Tag Archives: Ellen Voie Blog

Steering Toward Kindness – Women in Trucking

#SteeringTowardKindness

Remember the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum?  If you’ve never read it, let me give you a few of the author’s reminders

  • Share everything
  • Play fair
  • Don’t hit people
  • Put things back where you found them
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone
  • Live a balanced life

These are actually pretty simple to understand, even for adults, and I’m guessing you were told these “rules” when you were a child.  If not, I am truly sorry if you didn’t learn these effortless ways to get along with the people around you. Continue reading

You can help drive change through your association

American Author and Management Expert Kenneth Blanchard once said, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”

Too often we hear people complaining about their circumstances, but they don’t seem to make any effort to change the situation.  They’d just prefer to grumble and let others deal with the same issues.

How can YOU make the trucking industry a better place for all of us?  First, think about how your negative remarks invite more criticism.  Calling someone names or making harmful comments don’t help anyone.  In fact, it just puts the other person on the defensive which prompts them just to shut you out. Continue reading

What did you miss?

The Women In Trucking Association’s mission is simply to increase the percentage of women employed in transportation careers.  Whether the role is driver, technician, safety professional, engineer, manager or one of the many other positions in supply chain, our focus is to attract and retain more women at all levels.

The Accelerate! Conference and Expo brings this goal into one very educational, but motivational and fun-filled event and this year was no exception.  Although this was only our third annual conference, over 500 women and men were there to learn, network and relax.  If you missed it, here are some of the things we learned.

Our keynote speaker, Valerie Alexander, charmed and challenged the audience her insight in “How to succeed in trucking despite having female brains.”  Valerie also ended the conference with how to create happiness and engagement in the workplace.  She asked the audience to list ten positive things that might result from a negative experience, using industry examples to illustrate the case.

Admiral Robert Wray, CEO of Citadel Fleet Safety, talked about leadership and provided lessons he learned in his four decades of experience in both wartime and peace.  He challenged the audience to become more confident, but humble leaders in their organizations and provided numerous stories of action-oriented guidance from his years as a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

Former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA), Annette Sandberg, shared stories from her experiences as the youngest, and first female, State Patrol Chief in the US.  She encouraged the audience to maintain their sense of humor, but to establish boundaries and keep them intact without alienating others.  Ms. Sandberg currently is the Principal of TranSafe Consulting, LLC, which provides transportation, safety and security consulting services.

David Coleman, known as “The Dating Doctor TM” spoke about relationship issues at work and in social settings in his talk, “Positive People Produce.”  Coleman’s interactive presentation included a session with attendees talking about their strengths and weaknesses and using the conversation to build confidence in others and themselves.  The audience learned how their words and actions can turn relationships into a positive direction that is safe, empowering and affirming.

Returning speaker, Joel McGinley, of TranStrategy Partners spoke about how to “Elevate your Game: A message of Personal Transformation.”  McGinley gave the attendees an understanding of what holds them back from transformational growth and how to overcome these challenges.  He provided tools to empower and encourage each person to create the career they want.

Sirius/XM’s Road Dog Channel’s Freewheelin’ host, Meredith Ochs, moderated a panel of women who offered their insight into becoming successful leaders.  The three finalists for the Influential Women in Trucking Award sponsored by Freightliner participated.  Traci Crane,  Senior Manager of Fleet Services at CFI, Inc., Tana Greene, CEO and Founder of Blue Bloodhound and Daphne Jefferson, former Deputy Administrator of the FMCSA were the three finalists.  They were joined by last year’s Influential Woman in Trucking, Ramona Hood, of Genco. These four women shared their insight into how they succeeded in transportation careers and offered advice to not only believe in yourself and your professional goals, but to move beyond your comfort zone and achieve great things.  Daphne Jefferson was named this year’s Influential Woman in Trucking.

In addition to presentations that challenged and empowered the attendees, there were many panel discussions, lunchtime table topic conversations and plenty of industry-related talks ranging from driver health and wellness to ELD mandates.  The FMCSA held a Q & A session to offer the latest rulings affecting drivers. We also announced an initiative with Expediter Services to provide funding to 150 women starting businesses in trucking.

The Women In Trucking Association initiated a Best Practices Survey to better understand how carriers that employ a high percentage of female drivers attract and retain these women.  Keera Brooks of Sawgrass Logistics conducted the survey and presented the findings along with a panel of carrier executives who shared their strategies.  The attendees learned that women leave companies for different reasons than men and look for different things when choosing a carrier.  This research will be available to all corporate members of the association shortly and will be game-changing for carriers looking to hire more female drivers.

The entire conference was fast-paced, and jam-packed, but many attendees took the time to take a tour of the trucks feature new technologies from companies such as Autobon, Freightliner, Peterbilt, Volvo, and ZF.  The Women In Trucking 2014 Volvo VNL donated by Arrow Truck Sales was also on display.  This vehicle will be given away at the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

If you missed this year’s Accelerate! Conference and Expo, be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s event to be held in Frisco (Dallas) Texas November 12-14.  For more information, visit the Women In Trucking Association website at www.womenintrucking.org.  We look forward to seeing you there!

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Sharing Best Practices Around the World

As the trucking industry in North America looks toward women to create a more diverse workforce and to fill talent gaps, nations around the world look toward America to lead the way.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a conference in Hue City, Vietnam to share best practices the Women In Trucking Association has found in our efforts to increase the numbers of women in transportation careers.

The event was called the Women In Transportation initiative which was launched in 2011 by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) to address the growing need to identify barriers and share best practices in four core areas.  These areas include education, access to jobs, retention and leadership development. Continue reading

Honesty, Please

A recent report from Stay Metrics, a driver engagement platform, stated that of the 100 professional drivers hired today, 33 of them will quit within three months and another 22 percent will be gone within six months. These numbers should tell us something.

It’s not only difficult to attract and retain drivers, it’s expensive.  The American Trucking Associations reported a slight increase in recent turnover rates at large fleets, despite remaining at what they called, “historically low levels.” The turnover rate, or the percentage of drivers who leave a fleet on a calendar basis is at 74 percent.

What if 74 percent of your recruiters left every year? What if 74 percent of your human resource department left every year? Why do we accept this level of “resignations” from our drivers? Continue reading

Women In Trucking and Uber Freight

The word Uber means “very super.” Uber Freight is working to become a “very super” way to match carriers with shippers through its app.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Uber Freight’s offices in downtown San Francisco and speak with the team about the underrepresentation of women throughout the trucking industry, as well as ways to attract and retain more women into trucking careers.

The team at Uber Freight includes engineers, load planners, sales and marketing professionals and so much more. They seemed to be younger than a typical group of transportation professionals. Many of them came from a technology background, and since they are working to build an app that improves the lives of all truck drivers, they were eager to better understand the unique challenges female drivers face.

My talk focused on the need to raise awareness among women about opportunities in the trucking industry and other areas of transportation. I touched on the challenges in attracting and retaining women as drivers and leaders and offered suggestions as to how we can better address these issues. I also discussed ways WIT is working to improve conditions including truck cab design and ergonomics, harassment, and more inclusive recruiting advertising.

The presentation to the group was well received, and in addition to the four dozen or so folks in the room, the event was also broadcast to Uber Freight’s Chicago office. The questions from the Uber Freight team were focused and insightful, although I would have to admit that I learned as much from them as they learned from me.

As a separate effort from Uber Freight, Uber also has a group working on self-driving technology for both cars and trucks called the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). The mission of Uber ATG is to create safer roads and save lives with the use of self-driving technology that will remove as much opportunity for driver error as possible. I had a chance to also visit with the ATG team and ride in one of their trucks on the highways around San Francisco. A professional truck driver was in the driver’s seat the entire time while another employee monitoring the laptop was receiving information from the truck’s LiDAR sensors.

The separate teams at Uber Freight and Uber ATG trucks are both working hard to stay ahead of the industry with the use of technology, and WIT is excited to continue working with Uber to build a “very super” future for women across the industry.

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Women In Trucking advances its mission with a Girl Scout Transportation Patch

In October of 2014, eighty four young girls gathered at Olive Harvey School in Chicago, Illinois for the first Girl Scout Transportation event.  These girls heard from a (female) Navistar Engineer who talked about designing trucks to better accommodate women.  They also were given the opportunity to meet two female professional drivers and to climb into the cab of the trucks.

This was the very first Girl Scout event initiated by Women In Trucking Association. Since then at least fourteen more event have been held in the United States and Canada (where they are called Girl Guides.)

The purpose of the Transportation Patch is to expose young girls to careers in the supply chain.  From trucks, to boats and airplanes and pipelines, nearly 800 young girls have now earned the Women In Trucking Transportation Patch.  Inquiries continue to come in from all over the world.  Many are initiated by carriers, some are from truck driving schools, others are from dealers, but many are from Girl Scout (Guide) Troops themselves.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the University of Wisconsin Superior’s Girl Scout Transportation Day.  We started the morning with 21 young girls eager to learn about transportation.  We talked about how their Girl Scout cookies actually start out as grain in a farmer’s field.  The grain is transported, by a truck, to the bakery.  Then, from the bakery to the packaging center the cookies are moved by a truck.  The next step is to send them (via truck) to the distribution center.  After the cookies are transported to the regional Girl Scout office, the delivery is made by the Girl Scout to the customer.  The girls related to the supply chain lesson and will now identify trucks as potentially hauling their cookies.

We took a tour of the S. S. Meteor, the world’s last Whaleback Ship.  The girls were fascinated by the massive cargo holds, but took a special interest in the Captain and Crew’s sleeping and eating quarters.  The tour guide allowed each group to tug on the air horn!

The next stop was a ride on the North Shore scenic railroad.  The ride included a pizza lunch after a visit to the museum. The girls learned about trains and how steam locomotives transported workers to various locations in northing Minnesota.

After returning to the University, the girls were separated into three groups.  Each group had the opportunity to move between learning stations.  As one group of girls learned about airplanes and how lift and trust affect the way the airplane flows through the atmosphere, another group made a pipeline and watched it “erupt” like a volcano.  The last group met a female professional driver, Terri, who showed them her truck and let them pull the air horn.

By the end of the day, the girls had learned about all modes of transportation, but more importantly, they were exposed to people who operated these engines and what the job entails.

The Women In Trucking Association developed the curriculum and the patches with the Greater Chicago/Northern Indiana regional office.  The curriculum is free to corporate members of the association, and the patches can be purchased at cost for $1 each.

This project will also be supplemented by an activity guide depicting the supply chain path of the cookies from the field to the final mile, which is the Girl Scout.  This activity guide is currently being produced by the Women In Trucking Association and will be available for our members later this year.

For more information about the Women In Trucking’s Girl Scout (Guide) Transportation Patch and curriculum, please contact Char@womenintrucking.org or call 888-464-9482.

This project supports the organization’s mission to encourage more women to look at careers in transportation and supply chain and by reaching young girls through the Transportation Patch this mission is being accomplished.

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Being recognized by Todd the TSA agent.

The reports about airline incidents have been numerous lately and don’t seem to be stopping.  Maneuvering through a busy airport, like Atlanta or Chicago, is not fun. In fact, it’s frustrating and challenging, even for frequent flyers who know what to expect.

As President of the Women In Trucking Association, I spend a lot of time flying to meetings, conferences and speaking engagements. I stick with Delta, as there aren’t a lot of choices at my home airport in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Continue reading

JumpStart Auto Repair, a Garage for Good

While the trucking industry seeks more women to fill the roles of driver, technician and leader, the automotive industry has some of the same challenges. It’s still not common to see female mechanics working on your car.  Even less common is a shop run by women for women.

That’s the goal of JumpStart Auto Repair in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Their mission is to provide honest, reliable service to women, who reportedly make up 65 percent of all car repair decisions.

Their focus is even more targeted, as their partners are two domestic abuse shelters in the area, the Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs and Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services.  The number one reason someone will return to an abusive relationship. So, JumpStart LLC, a garage for good, was created. Continue reading

A decade of steering toward diversity

In 2007 a group of influential, successful women met in Las Vegas to create a mission statement for a new organization called “Women In Trucking (WIT).” These women knew what it was like to be outnumbered at every industry event where they would search the room for another female to make a connection.  Their goal was simple, to increase the number of women employed in trucking, from driver to board member, diversity was the challenge.

Although women are still a minority in trucking, the Women In Trucking Association is moving the needle. In the past ten years, we’ve made great strides in increasing the ranks of women through numerous initiatives.  To name a few….WIT-logo-10-year

The Girl Scout (Girl Guide) Transportation Patch was created in cooperation with the Greater Chicago/Northern Indiana Girl Scouts. The curriculum guide is available only from the Women In Trucking Association. Numerous troops across North America have learned been able to see a truck close up and learn about careers as drivers, managers and other roles in transportation. Continue reading