MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The show floor at the 2014 edition of Truck World saw parades of Hooters girls and more than one booth populated by spokesmodels in micro-skirts and child-sized T-shirts, but it was in the conference meeting room where the women who actually work in the industry met with the goal of advancing the role of women in Canadian trucking.
Over 20 women attended the inaugural meeting of Supporting Women in Trucking, a new national advisory committee established by Trucking HR Canada. The goal of the committee is to educate women about careers in trucking, identify challenges and barriers to career paths and to promote recruiting and retention practices which support women in the workforce.
To that end, members established the first steps for the committee’s action plan, set timelines for its list of planned activities and named its first leaders: Vicki Stafford, vice-president of resource development at Cavalier Transportation Services, was named the chairperson and Linda Young, vice-president of HR/people development at Bison Transport, was named vice-chairperson.
After the initial meeting, the committee hosted a reception, attended by a variety of industry representatives. During a presentation at the reception, David Bradley, president and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and president & CEO of Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) commented on the need for a women’s centred organization, and promised the CTA and OTA would be very supportive of the committee.
“I come from the generation where equality for all people became part of the consciousness,” he said. “I’ve always been surrounded by, worked with and worked for strong female role models, so I have questioned if we need this, but I don’t walk in your shoes. And the numbers don’t lie.”
The numbers he referred to include some of the employment statistics that show just how under-represented women are in the trucking industry.
As Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada pointed out, “Only three percent of Canada’s truck drivers, mechanics, technicians and cargo workers are women.
“Any solution to the trucking industry’s intensifying shortage of personnel will clearly involve reaching out to this largely underrepresented group. Women also account for just 11% of managers, 13% of parts technicians, 18% of dispatchers, and 25% of freight claims/safety and loss prevention specialists.”
In addressing the crowd, newly chosen chair Vicki Stafford told the audience about her experience entering the industry from a non-related profession (teaching) and spoke about the range of skills women offer the trucking industry.
“As women, we don’t necessarily understand what we can bring to the table,” she said.
As for the first meeting, she was pleased with what the committee had achieved.
“We have laid some great ground work for future success,” she said adding that it will “definitely achieve great things.”