Spotlight News

Women In Expediting: A Conversation with Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women in Trucking

Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women In Trucking

Over the past few months, we’ve shined the spotlight on the importance of the role that women play in Expediting. As more women enter into the industry, their skills and talents have become essential to building and maintaining successful businesses for many Expediting teams.
As a proud supporter and sponsor of the Women In Trucking organization, Expediter Services, is honored to feature in this issue of Spotlight News, the foremost advocate for women in the trucking industry: Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women In Trucking, to get her insights concerning women in the industry, and the new opportunity for women offered by WIT and ES.
Learn more about Women In Trucking.

SLN: Tell us about the Women In Trucking organization?
Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is a nonprofit organization formed to increase the level of women employed in the trucking industry.  Specifically, our mission is to encourage the employment of women in trucking, address obstacles that might keep women from either entering the industry or succeeding within the industry, and to celebrate the success of our members.  We were formed in March, 2007 and have grown to include nearly 4,000 members in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  Seventeen percent of our members are men who join because they support our mission.

SLN: What was your motivation for creating WIT?
My motivation in forming WIT was due to my role at a large carrier.  I was responsible for corporate level initiatives to attract and retain nontraditional groups, which included women.  I realized this industry didn’t do a good job in understanding how to introduce women to the great careers within transportation.

SLN: Who is WIT’s audience?
Our audience includes nearly anyone.  First, we want to attract drivers as well as women in management roles, so that includes the non-trucking public.  Our efforts there are to break through any negative stereotypes they might have about trucking, which includes our image.  Secondly, our audience includes carriers as well as suppliers.  We are a great resource for carriers who want to attract and retain more women, but we also have suppliers who support us because they believe in our mission to increase the number of women working in the trucking industry.

SLN: Can anyone join WIT?
Anyone can join!  The dues are divided into both individual and corporate segments.  A student can join for $10 annually.  A driver’s dues are $25 annually and a non-driver pays $50 each year.  A corporate membership is either $500 or $1,000 each year, depending on the size of the company.  Our members include everyone from retired drivers to huge companies such as Walmart, Frito-lay, Daimler and more.

SLN: What are the hurdles women encounter in the trucking industry?

The hurdles, or obstacles, that women encounter can be divided into the driver population and women in leadership roles.  For drivers, everything from truck cab design to safety on the road to harassment from other drivers can be an issue.  For women in leadership, some of the challenges are working in a male dominated environment, ensuring diversity in management and creating a career path for success.

SLN: What specifically does WIT do for women in the trucking industry?
We have many projects that support our mission.  We created a Girl Scout Patch to teach the next generation about the trucking industry.  We work with truck cab designers to create a more ergonomic and driver friendly truck.  We have an anti-harassment employment guide for carriers as well as a recruiting guide on how to attract female drivers.  We formed an Image Team to speak to the media and more importantly, to give legislators and regulators rides in a truck so they can get a glimpse into the challenges a driver faces on the road.  We have a sister organization that provides scholarships for education in any field related to transportation, including safety, driving and technical areas. We are always looking to our members for guidance on how to be a better resource for them.

SLN: How can companies benefit from addressing women’s roles/issues in their businesses?
Companies who hire female drivers will enjoy a very productive and safe group.  Women take fewer risks and so accidents are less severe due to their safe driving behaviors.  Woman are often better with customers, better with their paperwork and better with the equipment.
For women in leadership, women bring a different perspective to the team.  We are more collaborative and more inclusive in our decision making styles.  Again, the less risky behavior results in a more focused view regarding decision making at the top levels.
Numerous studies have found that a greater level of diversity brings in higher profits to the organization and that’s a great reason to hire and promote more women!

SLN: What is the latest Opportunity you’ve found for Women in the trucking industry?
We are so excited to partner with Expediter Services (ES) to attract more women into the industry.  ES has a higher percentage of female drivers than the industry average (six) because of the collaborate and inclusive culture.  The turnover rate in the trucking industry as a whole should be an embarrassment because a typical carrier does not adequately prepare a potential driver for the challenges he or she might face in this industry.  ES ensures the driver not only understands, but is prepared for these challenges.  This is something we feel will help attract and retain more women in transportation careers.

SLN: How can women benefit from Women in Trucking and ES’s Women in Expediting opportunity?
Expediting is something many women enjoy because they don’t want to operate a truck “that bends.”  The smaller straight trucks are easier to learn to operate and a driver can be productive in a shorter time after deciding on this career opportunity.  The expediting segment of the industry can offer women (and men) a way to earn a good wage in a job that gives them more independence than sitting in an office and offers a sense of adventure along the way.
WIT and ES will be working together to give potential drivers opportunites to drive for a living, become owners, and start their own businesses in a supportive culture that encourages, mentors and offers services to make them more productive and successful.  Between our two organizations we have the resources and the expertise to create an environment for success.

SLN: Where do you see the WIT/WIE opportunity going in the near and far term?
As we develop our partnership in the expediting segment we can grow beyond and move into the class A part of the trucking industry.  We have the systems in place to change the way the industry attracts and retains all drivers, but more importantly, to increase the number of women who are not only employed in the trucking industry
but who are successful and happy with this environment.

Thanks Ellen,  for sharing your experience about Women in Expediting with us.
Stay tuned for another edition of Women in Expediting in a future issue of Spotlight News!

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