Driver shortages? Recruiting (and hiring) female drivers could be the answer
Attracting and retaining drivers has been a long, uphill battle for the trucking industry. As freight volume increases and waves of seasoned drivers retire, motor carriers struggle to move cargo across the country.
An untapped labor reserve that could help solve this problem is female drivers. Traditionally, the trucking industry has skewed heavily toward male drivers.
According to a 2019 report from the American Trucking Association (ATA), only seven percent of truck drivers are women. The percentage of female drivers has remained consistent throughout the past 18 years.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has been tasked in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to establish a Women in Trucking Advisory Board to review and report on policies that provide education, training, mentorship, or outreach to women in the trucking industry; and recruit, retain, or advance women in the industry.
To help increase the number of female commercial truck drivers, industry leaders say motor carriers need to make a greater effort in recruiting and marketing to women. ?
Tips to recruiting female drivers
Here are a few tips to help motor carriers accomplish this goal:
- Inspect the current facilities. Before diving in with a new marketing campaign geared toward recruiting female drivers, take a hard look at the terminal and the trucks. Look for areas of improvement to ensure the accommodations suit all potential new drivers. Is the terminal clean and welcoming? Does the terminal have male and female bathroom facilities (and gender-neutral options)? Are there inappropriate posters, calendars, or sexist décor around?
- Audit policies and procedures. Review company policies and procedures to ensure they’re updated, gender neutral, and inclusive to all (i.e., they do not exclude women). At minimum, update any policy language that’s written to only address male drivers. Look to add and improve policies on benefits such as: family/medical leave, vacation time, retirement planning, health insurance, wellness programs, etc. This may make your company more attractive to ALL drivers. Also analyze pay scales to ensure female and male drivers have the same earning potential.
- Incorporate sexual harassment training. Several states require that employers conduct sexual harassment training, and many employers in other states have taken the lead on mandating this training on their own. Incorporating sexual harassment training might go a long way to protect all employees from inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
- Expand social media efforts. Look for new ways to reach untapped labor markets – in this case, female drivers. Use social media to share stories about the benefits of being a truck driver. Highlight driver success stories. Get creative! The sky is the limit from an audio/visual perspective. If needed, work with a creative company to spruce up marketing campaigns.
Hiring and recruiting new drivers — particularly female drivers — is a challenge. But by incorporating some of these tips, drawing from a wider base of applicants may improve and help solve the driver shortage problem.
Michelle Higgins is an Associate Editor on the Human Resources Publishing Team and she creates content on a variety of employment-related topics including benefits, compensation, overtime, wage deductions, exempt/nonexempt employees, health and retirement plans, independent contractors, and child labor.
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