When Liz was six years old her mother sold her into the sex industry with the advice to “smile, look pretty, and do whatever he says if you love me.” For the rest of her childhood, she endured constant abuse until she was able to escape.
Now, Liz shares her story as the Field Trainer at Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), which is a resource to combat human trafficking in the trucking industry. TAT has a presence in both the United States and Canada and offers numerous ways to educate those of us who work in transportation careers.
The Women In Trucking Association strives to be a resource for the trucking industry. This means we spend a great deal of time collecting data from our members. Everything from recruiting and retention to harassment is analyzed and the results are either White Papers, webinars, or benchmarking information.
Late last year we conducted a survey on harassment and over 400 drivers responded. The results were disturbing. Nearly seventy percent of drivers claimed verbal harassment and nearly half said they had been verbally threatened at least once. Shockingly, 57 percent reported receiving unwanted physical advances and six percent claimed they had been raped.
The word turnover in the trucking industry does NOT mean a flakey pastry filled with fruit. Unfortunately, it describes a reality pertaining to the revolving door for our professional drivers. Current estimates place the turnover rate at large carriers at 89 percent. That means a trucking company with five thousand drivers needs to HIRE almost 4,500 drivers EVERY YEAR to maintain their current fleet.
The American Trucking Associations explains turnover as a number that, “accurately measures drivers moving within carriers.” They stress that these drivers aren’t leaving the industry, but just finding a different company.
Recently the Department of Labor held a “Day of Action” to promote safety and address these issues in the trucking industry. Since our inception in 2007, our mission has included the goal to address obstacles that might keep women from entering the trucking industry, or from succeeding in a transportation role. For over fifteen years the Women In Trucking Association has already been addressing the subject of sexual harassment and sexual assault against professional drivers.
Before you read the title and jump to a conclusion, I want to start by saying that I hope you agree that we are all different. It’s not just about gender, but it encompasses so much more, such as age, ethnicity, and both mental and physical attributes.
However, I would also like you to think about why we sometimes continue to treat everyone the same by avoiding conversations that showcase our differences.