On Dec. 3 in Ottawa, Trucking HR Canada, along with partners from across the country, wrapped up our Women with Drive Hits the Road tour.
The initiative builds on the success of the national Women with Drive leadership summit that takes place in March each year, in Toronto, as well as the popular Western Women with Drive event hosted in partnership with the Alberta Motor Transport Association.
From St. Bruno, Que., through to Surrey, B.C., our Hits the Road tour delivered full rooms and fulsome conversation. It gave us the opportunity to connect, converse, and celebrate women in the trucking and logistics industry.
I asked my team members at Trucking HR Canada to highlight some key takeaways from the 2019 tour, and here they are:
Mentorship, sponsorship, and support
We heard from successful women that it is vital to be in an environment that encourages relationships with mentors, sponsors, champions, and others who can provide a strong support network even outside of work.
Managers and leaders should consider how they can provide latitude for staff to take calculated risks that move outside what is easy for them so they can develop and grow. Workplaces need to be inclusive, with one panelist talking about something as simple as having “female-friendly” fitting uniforms. Another talked about policies and training to ensure that all staff – both men and women – have safe and appropriate options for sleeping while on the road with a co-worker.
Focus on opportunities
We talk a lot about the fact that trucking is a male-dominated profession. But during our tour we also heard that we should stop emphasizing it. Women are not only filling jobs in the industry, they’re taking prominent roles and showing others how to make the most of their opportunities.
In St. Bruno, a panel of female truckers contributed their perspectives about how carriers can make workplaces more welcoming to women drivers, while retaining women who are already there. Camo-Route presented its Women Drivers: Objective 10% project to increase the percentage of women truck drivers in Quebec from 4% to 10%. The company rolled out two trucks completely wrapped in pink, which made a splash.
In Surrey, B.C., one woman brought her teenage daughter to our event. She said she would pay for all of her children to get their licence to drive because the trucking industry has good jobs that will always be there. (Wow! If we could only get our governments to do the same.)
Female entrepreneurs in Regina commented that women need to “just do it” and have the confidence to propel themselves forward in their workplace, whether it’s behind the wheel or stepping up to bigger roles in the shop or office.
In Ottawa, government representatives from a number of agencies had their own myths dispelled as we highlighted the progressive and modern approaches our industry is taking when it comes to gender diversity.
Communication is key
Numerous panelists, including our Toronto stop, spoke about the need for young women in particular to seek support when they need it, and that all women in the industry should see themselves as ambassadors for their profession.
Another recurring theme, elaborated on with our panelists in Manitoba, is that conversations about mentorship, opportunities, and diversity aren’t for women only. Everyone should have a voice.
My favorite comment during our tour came in Surrey when one of our panelists was asked, “What question are you most tired of hearing on the topic of women in the workforce?”
Her response: “There isn’t one.”
The conversation continues on March 12 in Toronto at our national Women with Drive event. Learn more here.
And, stay tuned about our Hit the Road tour in 2020.