Women with Drive Leadership Summit offers help for recruiting women

Trucking HR Canada’s inaugural Women with Drive Leadership Summit has shed new light on steps to recruit, retain and mentor women in Canada’s trucking industry.

About 135 delegates attended the event in Toronto on March 5th, where they learned about best practices in other industries, mentorship programs, the national Women with Drive project, leadership skills, and insights from women who already hold senior industry roles.

Dr. Kellie Leitch, federal minister of labour and minister of status of women, hosted a roundtable with industry executives. She also announced $421,720 in funding to develop mentorship programs for women and build a formal business case to promote the hiring of other underrepresented demographic groups.

“Our government’s number one priority is to create jobs and opportunities for all Canadians. One of the ways we do this is by supporting community-based projects that support economic security and prosperity for women. We know that when women succeed, our entire country prospers,” Leitch said.

“CTA’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage identified the need for carriers to look at ways to recruit prospective drivers from non-traditional domestic sources,” said David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). “This work led by Trucking HR Canada will create practical tools that will assist fleets in their efforts to address future labour needs.”

The luncheon speaker was Brenda Andress, commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“The summit offered valuable insight that will help employers reach out to women and answer the intensifying shortage of skilled workers,” says Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada. The Conference Board of Canada projects the need for another 25,000 to 33,000 for-hire truck drivers as early as 2020.

“This event was one of the first steps in a three-year action plan we have adopted to address the shortage of women in our industry,” said Cavalier Transport’s Vicki Stafford, chair of the national advisory committee guiding the Women with Drive project. “Ongoing education around this issue will help to eliminate workplace barriers, promote opportunities, and open new career paths to women.” The plan includes commitments to create mentorship programs, identify best practices, and develop workplace tools and procedures for inclusive workplaces.

Women account for 48% of the workers in Canada’s labour force, but just 3% of the nation’s truck drivers, mechanics, technicians and cargo workers. They are also underrepresented among industry managers (11%), parts technicians (13%), dispatchers (18%), and freight claims/safety and loss prevention specialists (25%).

The Women with Drive action plan is guided by a national advisory committee that includes female managers, directors, presidents and C-level executives from across the trucking industry. In addition to promoting trucking as a career of choice for women, the plan will also educate employers about the steps that help to create an inclusive workplace.