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The trucking industry in Canada offers plentiful opportunities and the potential for career progression and growth for both men and women. However, freight transportation remains a male-dominated industry. The good news is that the tides are slowly, slowly changing. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be large or strong to drive a truck or transport trailer. You do need to have a personality suited to being on the road, and that personality is gender neutral! Further, there are many off-the-road career opportunities in the industry beyond drivers, mechanics, and technicians.

Currently, the percentage of women working in freight transportation is well below the Canadian national average of 48 percent. Women make up just 3 percent of truck drivers as well as 3 percent of mechanics, transport trailer technicians and cargo workers. However, 11 percent of managerial staff; 13 percent of parts technicians, 18 percent of dispatchers, and 25 percent of freight claims and safety and loss prevention specialists are women. These numbers are slowly growing as a female-friendly workplace is created and programs are designed to attract women to the industry.

Women with Drive 2016 Leadership Summit

Designed to encourage this trend, the 2nd annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit took place on March 3 at the Crown Plaza Toronto Airport. Women with Drive is Trucking HR Canada‘s national project which is dedicated to promoting women in freight transportation.

*Who Attends?

The event is attended by anyone who recruits, retains or mentors women in Canada’s trucking industry. More specifically, trucking industry managers come to learn about programs specifically designed to support women in the workplace. Industry leaders come learn to how to effectively develop a female-friendly work culture. Finally, the event is an incredible opportunity for women in the industry to learn from human resource professionals and get useful career advice and guidance. CHET and our parent company, Musket Transport Ltd., sent representatives to attend the Summit for the second year.

*The Objective       

The Women with Drive project aims to raise awareness about various career opportunities available to women in the trucking and freight transportation industry. It also educates employers about how they can more effectively recruit and retain employees, especially women, as well as better integrate women in the workforce. All attendees walk away with practical tools they can use to connect women with growth-oriented careers in the industry.

*The Highlights

A well-executed event, the Women with Drive 2016 Leadership Summit was jam-packed with valuable content and inspiring speakers. The event kicked off with opening remarks by former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, who expressed that Mississauga is the capital of trucking and that women should have a presence in all areas of the economy.

The schedule moved into a diversity discussion panel, with such industry pros as Kelley Platt, President of Western Star Trucks and Chief Diversity Officer of Daimler Trucks North America; Jennifer Laidlaw, Senior HR Executive at CIBC; and Shannon MacDonald, Chief Inclusion Officer, and Deloitte. One of the key points expressed was that diversity and inclusion are only achieved when there are leadership initiatives implemented at the executive level. The evolving definition of diversity was also discussed. The speakers promoted diversity of thought and collaboration of ideas, in addition to surface-level diversity. Further, the women explored issues of gender equality and the structural and societal barriers that still women face in the industry.

Keynote Speaker, Angela Mondou, addressed the crowd and made the powerful insight that nobody has a vested interest in your life or your career as much as you do. After her speech, Steven Osiel gave an informative presentation on compensation. He discussed how different factors should be considered when deciding where to seek employment, including base salary, benefits, satisfaction with the role, determining whether the work will further your career and deciding if you want to be affiliated with the company.

Later in the afternoon, a “Women on the Road” panel of women drivers spoke to attendees about what attracted them to the industry and the challenges they personally faced along the way. The inspiration of the event was further ramped up at the “Emerging Leaders” panel, where attendees heard words of wisdom from emerging leaders in the trucking industry.

*Next Steps

Spearheaded by Trucking HR Canada, a national advisory committee has been formed to develop an Employment Action Plan for women in the trucking industry. The plan will position the trucking industry as a field of choice for women seeking careers, as well as identify existing barriers, best practices, and a national employment strategy.

Stay tuned for next month’s article, where we’ll explore the actions CHET and our parent company, Musket Transport Ltd., take to support the integration of women into the workforce.

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