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28. Do We Need Women In Trucking? Ellen Voie

Enter yourEllen Voie (0s):
83% of women who come into the trucking industry do so at the urging of a family member or friend

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (9s):
This week on the show, we are blessed to have Ellen Voie of Women in Trucking, and we're discussing about safety and women in trucking and the role that women in trucking the organization plays in getting more women into our organization to make us a more diverse and even safer. Listen to Ellen. Here we go.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (40s):
Welcome to the Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast. When it comes to trucking safety, the dawg is on it. Well, what do we do on this show? I get to talk to some of the most influential trucking executives in our industry so that we can pick up new tips and tricks to use in our everyday businesses. Hold it back. Let's get on with the show. Welcome to the dog trucking podcast.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 10s):
How in the heck are ya?

Ellen Voie (1m 12s):
I'm doing great, Chris. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 15s):
Well, you're one of the awesome people. So we have to have you on the show

Ellen Voie (1m 20s):
That works for me.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 23s):
Well, Ellen, I mean, I was just, just before we, I hit the record button, I was going to say, I've known you since you were a recruiter for Schneider. National is when we first met.

Ellen Voie (1m 34s):
Actually it wasn't really recruiter. I was a corporate level initiatives in the recruiting and retention area, but yeah, that's, that was quite awhile ago. I think 2006, when I was working for Schneider,

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (1m 47s):
We're here to talk about women in trucking. Why did you start such an organization?

Ellen Voie (1m 54s):
Well, I have to go back to when I was working at Schneider national and my job as manager of retention and recruiting programs. Again, those were corporate level initiatives was to figure out I was tasked with how do we attract and retain nontraditional groups. And that included Hispanics, returning military, seniors and women. And so I started doing my research on what do women look for in a trucking company? What do women look for in the industry? And I realized that the trucking industry, wasn't doing a very good job of trying to bring more women in which wouldn't make up half the population.

Ellen Voie (2m 31s):
Why not start, you know, recruiting women and Chris at the time I was working on my pilot's license and I belonged to an organization called women in aviation. So I thought, well, if there's a women in aviation, why isn't there a women in trucking? And so I actually did copy a lot of their, like their dues structure w website, a lot of things. And I told them that too. I said, you know, I'm copying you. And they're like, yeah, that's fine. And so I, I formed women in put together. A board of directors, got an attorney, helped me with all the legal paperwork.

Ellen Voie (3m 7s):
And I actually started women in trucking while I was still at Schneider. And they were very, very supportive because they, again wanted to figure out how to attract and retain more female drivers. So when I started it, I actually hired someone else to do the work. And I would start raising funds and getting, you know, members and things like that. And our first year in 2007, we hit 500 members. So I knew that there was a nerve that was struck in the industry and we were off.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (3m 38s):
That's awesome. And congrats because I, you know, we've had conversations, different places and the work that you do, doesn't just benefit women. It also benefits men. And I remember the one, sorry, go ahead.

Ellen Voie (3m 59s):
I'm glad, I'm glad you said that because about, I don't know, 13% of our members are men and they joined because they support our mission. So I like to say, we're not for women. We're about,

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (4m 11s):
Well, as you explained it many years ago, to me, you said something about, well, if I get, if women complain about lighting at a truck stop and you managed to get it improved, didn't you fix it for men as well. Like there was the example of designing of trucks. If you want to say that, cause you're much more eloquent than I am.

Ellen Voie (4m 39s):
Okay. Well, so we went to the mean, well, first of all, let me back up a little and we're not just about drivers. I have, I have to make that clear women in trucking is for all women in the industry. And so it's women, you know, we have manufacturers, we have truck drivers schools, we have truck dealerships, you know, carriers, truck drivers. We have individual and corporate members. So we represent the women who work in the trucking industry. But one of the things that we do is we want to be a resource.

Ellen Voie (5m 9s):
We want to take our members' concerns and then take those concerns and try to address the obstacles that they're facing. And so let's, let's say, you know, the truck stops, women have a higher standard of cleanliness and I'm, I'm, I'm not going to say all women have a higher standard of cleanliness, but typically, and so if a truck stop shower, isn't clean, they're, you know, they have a higher standard. So if we can get the truck stops to, you know, put in, they put in one checks, truck, stop chain at the request of our members, put in big shower heads and fucking towels and hairdryers, and even have flowers in the room.

Ellen Voie (5m 48s):
And they came to us and said, what else can we do to make it better? And our driver said, make sure you clean the ventilation system and you know, and they're doing it. Well, guy doesn't want big fluffy towels in a cleaner bathroom.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (6m 2s):
I think it sounds awesome myself, you know?

Ellen Voie (6m 7s):
Well, and let me, let me address the, the truck cab design and ergonomics. The manufacturers will be straight up front and tell you that a number of years ago, they would design trucks for the 95th percentile male. I still don't really understand what that means, but when they said, well, why should we design trucks that accommodate women when women are such a small percentage of the driver population? Well, now it's more and more women are coming into the industry and being vocal about it. The truck had manufacturers are saying, how can we accommodate typically shorter statured, shorter legs, shorter arms, wider hips, you know, shorter, typically females.

Ellen Voie (6m 48s):
And so they're looking at like making sure they can see over the dash and making sure they can reach the pedals and that the seats fit comfortably and made me a security alarm system. And one manufacturer even put in a pass through seat on the passenger side. So you can store a quarter potty underneath it. So they're listening. And, and again, it's not detracting from what's there. We're not designing a truck just for women. We're designing trucks that accommodate men and women.

Ellen Voie (7m 19s):
And thinking about this, Chris, most, a lot of women working in a team configuration with their husbands or boyfriends. So you might need to have a truck that fits a five foot, three female and a six foot six male. And so it's really about a depth of ability.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (7m 35s):
Well, and the other part of that is not all men are six foot six. Some men are free and some of us are a little wider than others. I mean, I make that point only because I really believe what you've got the manufacturers to become a little more adapt to all of us. And so congrats. I think that's awesome. So are you

Ellen Voie (8m 5s):
Aye. We make them think, and here's an example and I give this in presentations all the time when trucking companies, 13 years ago, when I started women in trucking from carriers, all I'd hear is, Oh, Ellen, we just hire the best driver. We don't care about their age, their ethnicity, their gender. We just want to go driver. And I'd say, really, okay, well then how come all your uniforms are built for men? How come you don't have restrooms in your facilities for women? How come you know? And I started pointing out things.

Ellen Voie (8m 36s):
It really wasn't a level playing field. And so, you know, and I'd say, and how many of you still give up big belt buckles for safe driving awards? And they go, Oh, okay. You know, it's just the trucking industry has been so male dominated that the mindset has been, we've always done it that way. So now when we say, Hey, have you thought about this? It's not that anyone minds it's like, Oh no, we hadn't thought about that. But thank you for bringing it to our attention. And by the way, we'll start buying female shirts or women's shirts for our female drivers.

Ellen Voie (9m 10s):
You know what I mean? How hard is that?

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (9m 13s):
Well, I just, you know, I'm in the safety side of things and we were talking earlier on that, sorry, everybody else, we did a webinar together this morning that I got to hear Ellen talking about mental health, but we were talking, or you had mentioned about how do you describe it? The built in mechanisms of a woman compared to a man, especially when it comes to risk taking,

Ellen Voie (9m 42s):
Right? So women activate the amygdala, which is the fear factor, much more quickly than men and women are driven by estrogen and estrogen encourages bonding and teamwork and collaboration. So that makes women look for different things in the industry and at a company. For example, Chris, the female driver has a much higher value for her dispatcher, the relationship with her dispatcher and the culture of a company, because think about it, she's team oriented, collaborative.

Ellen Voie (10m 17s):
She wants to feel like a part of the, you know, the, she wants the culture to feel inclusive. So research has shown that women will stay longer if they have a good relationship with their dispatcher, but they'll also leave more quickly if they don't. But the other part of that is that the American transportation research Institute found that men were 20% more likely to be involved in a crash in every statistically significant area. Meaning at night intersections curves, you name it.

Ellen Voie (10m 50s):
Men were 20% more likely to be in a crash. So women are more risk averse. And, and as we mentioned earlier, that means that if, if you're sending a driver out in roads that are like snow, or, you know, there's hurricanes or whatever, risky driving condition, that's a very huge negative to everybody, but even more so for women, because we don't want to take those.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (11m 20s):
Yeah. And I've always believed women are just playing safer drivers and, and the Ford wheelers right now, up here as I drive on the highway, I, I wonder if that is changing because I see it's mostly the younger women under 40 cause I'm an old guy and I see them taking what I believe are much more risks than typically women used to take. And I haven't seen that translate into trucking at all.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (11m 53s):
I still believe women, truck drivers are far safer than us males because they don't want to take risk, but

Ellen Voie (12m 2s):
Right. And I think you're right, that data doesn't apply to the general population as a whole. It, it was for commercial drivers. So I'm not sure what AAA has found with their, you know, the four wheelers. But I know in the trucking industry, women have found to be much safer.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (12m 19s):
Yeah. And the other part of the industry, and I know you represent, I think you said diesel techs or mechanics as well, but I've often thought about the difference in recruiting between having a female recruiter and a male recruiter. And I don't know if you've ever thought about this, but women's intuition I think is so much sharper than us men. And they know when a man, especially a man, but I think they know when anybody is lying or stretching the truth, which is such a powerful tool in recruiting.

Ellen Voie (12m 55s):
We are also going to find out that female drivers ask a lot more questions. And I just want everyone listening to know that I'm generalizing here. Okay. I'm not saying every female and every male I'm just generalizing, but recruiters have told me and women have told me that they ask a lot more questions so that they know what they're getting into. And so, and it's not just a female recruiter. Chris women want to see women in leadership at trucking companies. They want to make sure that there's visible women in the board room and his managers and safety directors.

Ellen Voie (13m 28s):
So when women see more women in leadership, they think, Oh, this is a place that's more, more gender diverse and more accepting of, of females.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (13m 41s):
And I'm glad to say that I've got several clients. One is one client. The trucking company is actually owned by the woman, but the spouse of the owner plays a very significant role in the trucking company. Basically the trucking company won't run the, if the female doesn't show up, at least won't run very well. So

Ellen Voie (14m 6s):
Well, and here's, here's another piece of data that really reflects. What, what, what brings women into the industry? 83%, we did a best practices study. 83% of women who come into the trucking industry do so at the urging of a family member or friend. So that means a husband or boyfriend, a dad, a brother, or a mom or sister. It's not necessarily male. So what does that mean to you in safety or to recruiting?

Ellen Voie (14m 36s):
It means that these women coming into the industry typically know what is expected of them. And they know what the lifestyle is. They know what's coming. And so women don't leave the industry because of home time. And that's a myth that I'd like to dispel right now, because mentally, because of home time. And I'll talk about that. But women leave because of safety. It's all about safety.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (15m 2s):
So you just brought up an interesting thing. If you were, if a woman walked up to you on the street and said, Ellen, you've, you've had a great career. Not that you're ending it anytime soon. And it just happened to be in transportation. What would you recommend for me? What would you say to a woman to try to convince or even a man really, to try to say, what's good about trucking?

Ellen Voie (15m 29s):
Well, first of all, women make the exact same amount of money as their male counterparts at their carriers. It's their pay by the mile, by the load, by the whatever. I don't know any company out there, who's got two sets of, you know, rate, pay scales for different genders. It's just, it just doesn't work that way. In fact, it's been proven that women actually can make more money and a lot of women will run more miles or be more productive miles. So the pay is equal.

Ellen Voie (15m 59s):
The other misconception is that a lot of women think that you have to be big and burly or physically, you know, a huge, a big and burly. And that's not the case, the trucks, these days with all the technology and automation on them, it's taken away a lot of the physical aspects of the job. So we need to make sure that people understand that women also think that they need to be mechanically minded. And Chris, how many guys are out there fixing their engines?

Ellen Voie (16m 30s):
I mean, remember, 20, 30 years ago, a truck would break down on the side of the road and all the truck drivers would stop and pull out their tool, kits, their toolboxes and help them. It doesn't happen anymore. You don't have to be mechanically minded. And the third one is women think, well, I can't do this because I don't know how to shift. Well, guess what? Not only do we have automated transmissions, but if they don't, you can shift, you know, and, and you can back it's, you know, it's not as difficult as people picture the job.

Ellen Voie (17m 4s):
And then the last thing I want to mention is it used to be that a driver would be gone for weeks at a time and run from East coast to West coast. Not anymore. Everything's regional local, you know, you're home a lot more because companies want you home a lot more and they want you to have more work life balance and family time. So I would say there are great jobs in the trucking industry and you can choose. I mean, you don't have to be gone. You could haul trash, or you could deliver parts supplies in, you know, maybe pick up milk from dairy farms and you're home every night.

Ellen Voie (17m 42s):
So that's, you know, there's lots of opportunities that will fit a person's lifestyle. And the biggest issue we have with bringing women into the industry as drivers is they think they need all the qualifications or they won't be able to make it. And our job is to say, you can do this, you can do this. And so we try to tell stories. We have a member of the month and we want to tell stories about women in the industry who loved their jobs and are doing it.

Ellen Voie (18m 13s):
And, and that's, how else can we share what the lifestyle and the job is like, if we don't tell stories?

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (18m 20s):
Well, that's how we all learn is through stories. You know, talking about repairs on the road, I don't know of a company any longer that wants a driver repairing their own equipment anymore. There's too much liability there. And shifting is not that hard, but many drugs, you don't have to do it anymore. Right? I mean, my background, I was with a company that's changed names several times. They were TMT when I was there and we did auto parts and a lot of our runs were a 10 hour drive down, sleeping your bunk.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (18m 57s):
And then you came home the next day. And there was no hand bombing cause was auto parts. It was, it was a lot of it was scheduled runs. So there's an awful lot of work in the transportation industry that is flipping awesome work. And it's decent pay that's right. There is no pay diversity, unless, you know, when you say that for drivers, that's absolutely true. I wonder if it's true in the office environment,

Ellen Voie (19m 31s):
I'm going to tell you it probably isn't. And I also think, I mean, I could talk for hours about getting more women in male dominated corporate settings, because again, I'm just going to go back to, well, we've always done it that way. And, and you know, you hire people that have the same values and who look like you. And so if it's all white males in the corporate, you know, the directors, you know, seats, then that's what they're comfortable with. So we need to see more women at higher levels.

Ellen Voie (20m 4s):
And we did a women in trucking index. We do it every year with the Memphis university and there's 15 publicly traded trucking companies in the United States. Half of them have no women in management and more and more are getting women on their boards, but about two thirds have women on their boards. And so there's still a ways to go, to get more women as leaders.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (20m 28s):
That's disappointing. One of the companies that I do some work for, not a lot, they, because they are a 500 truck fleet and they shouldn't need a safety consultant. And they don't. They asked me to do special projects from time to time. But that company it's a husband and wife that run the company. And the, the wife is the often is the one talking to the drivers and is largely the face of the management, just because that's how they've chosen to divide the roles, which is really good.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (21m 8s):
So at the driver meetings and everything, it's, she is always there. Sometimes her husband is there sometimes not because for him, that's not his role in the company. So a little bit different. Yeah. Next time. You're up. If you've probably heard the truck world got canceled this year, unfortunately, but the next time you're up. If I can get the two of you together, I think you would enjoy meeting her if you haven't already, but Ellen, I I've totally lost track of time.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (21m 41s):
There's timers going, but because I hit record way before we actually started recording, I got no idea. Have we, what else would you like to say to the listeners and the viewers about women in trucking?

Ellen Voie (21m 58s):
Well, since you're in Canada, a lot of people say, well, you're a us based organization and we are, but I will also say that a large percentage of our members are in Canada. We even have a Canadian image team. We have a scholarship foundation. We've given many scholarships to women in Canada, technicians, safety directors, you know, w w we feel that Canada is our partner, and yes, we're US-based, but we have a huge presence in Canada and our image team, we plan on doing more with them and have more ride alongs.

Ellen Voie (22m 36s):
And then as you mentioned to in truck, world got canceled, but we will, we would have had our salute women behind the wheel, again in Canada, which we always do at truck world. So, and our very first female driver of the year associate director is a Canadian. So we do have, we, we love Canadians. And so when people say, well, your US-based, I just want them to know that just because we're based in the U S doesn't mean we're only U S in fact, we're in 10 countries,

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 5s):
Which is awesome. But when we talk about being us based, there's some advantages to that for women, such as, you know, where are the trucks manufactured? So when you want to talk to a trucking manufacturer to change the design, or make it more inclusive of more people, you know, who do you want going down there? So I absolutely believe there's advantages to that. And I don't think I have to say, I think I'm assuming full at the moment.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 36s):
I don't know that I I'm a member of women in trucking. I was for years, and I don't remember renewing. So that's why I say I'm sinful at the moment. We can change

Ellen Voie (23m 46s):
That. Chris,

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 48s):
You can send me an invoice.

Ellen Voie (23m 50s):
You got it.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (23m 54s):
I am a member of the women trucking Federation up here in Canada, and which is a Canadian organization. I know, you know, Shelly well, yeah. And I know you collaborate from time to time on different issues, which is awesome. One of the pleasures I get by the way, Ellen, is I get to go to a truck driving schools from time to time back before we went virtual. I'm the auditor for PTBI. So I used to go to North American wide to different truck driving schools.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (24m 28s):
And thank God nowadays, almost every class I went into, there were women there. And every time I saw a woman, I would ask, do you know about wit like if it was in the States and, and if they didn't, I would introduce them and make sure they knew about the organization, because I do believe that you do absolutely wonderful work. So

Ellen Voie (24m 54s):
Wait, and I think, I mean, as a student membership is $10 us, which is very reasonable. And the reason we do that is because we want to provide mentors. We want to provide other drivers who can help them. We want to give them a community that they can come to for advice. And for asking questions, we have a Facebook page with about 11,000, mostly female drivers on it, and that's free. Anyone can go there. So I encourage people to do that as well, but we want to be the resource that people come to and say, we need this kind of information.

Ellen Voie (25m 29s):
How can you help us? How can you help us with recruiting ads? You know, what do women look for? You know, I'm going to give you something out of our recruiting guide, Chris, that you might be interested in on our Facebook page. I asked the question, how many of you have a motorcycle or motorcycle license? And almost 80% of the female drivers on our Facebook page had a motorcycle or motorcycle license. So think about where you should be recruiting, right? Put a, put a, a shirt on one of your happy female drivers and put her in a charity run back, or when we have them again.

Ellen Voie (26m 6s):
And, and let her talk about how much she loves working for your company. I mean, it's, it's, it's interesting. That's the kind of woman, a woman who doesn't mind riding a motorcycle is the type of woman who doesn't mind working in the truck.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (26m 21s):
I, I think we need, I know we need more women in the industry, both in the office and out there driving the trucks, because quite honestly, both of those groups would make the industry a heck of a lot safer. And, you know, at the moment there's an insurance, I'll say it's a crisis. I don't think it's going to change. I think it's a permanent change where all of a sudden insurance has become a very important and you can't afford to crash trucks. So one great way to control your insurance would be to crash less.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (26m 54s):
And you could do that by hiring more females. You know,

Ellen Voie (26m 58s):
That's true. Very true. One thing you didn't ask me about our conference yet, Chris,

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (27m 6s):
The conference. Perfect. I'm glad It was funny. We were scheduled to do this so that you could promote your conference and things have changed.

Ellen Voie (27m 18s):
Our conference was supposed to be towards the end of September in Dallas. And of course we had to cancel. And so now it will be a virtual conference and it will be the end of November. I think it's the 23rd, 24th, something like that. So, but we're really packing it with great speakers and we're going to have breakout sessions. We're going to have Brown bag lunches, quote unquote, it's going to be full of networking opportunities and educational seminars and presentations.

Ellen Voie (27m 53s):
And we think we're going to get secretary Chao. We're hoping that we can have her as well. So it's all in our website, women in trucking.org, and I invite people to check it out and attend,

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (28m 4s):
And I will make sure that link is in the show notes below so they can be taken right to the women in trucking registration page.

Ellen Voie (28m 12s):
Thank you, Chris.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (28m 14s):
Awesome. I'm glad you slapped me up the side of the head for that one. Ellen, last word. What would you like to say?

Ellen Voie (28m 24s):
I would like everybody who's listening, who believes that we need more women working in transportation supply chain to consider joining women in trucking and it's women in trucking debt, or because we're not just about drivers, we're not just about, you know, it's, it's for, it's about bringing more women in and making this industry more inclusive.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (28m 48s):
That's awesome. Thank you so much, Ellen, for being on. I appreciate you and your time for this.

Ellen Voie (28m 54s):
Thank you, Chris.

Chris Harris, Safety Dawg (28m 58s):
I hope you love the show as much as I did. Please leave us a, like a thumbs up a review, a comment, a rating. Thank you so much. And I do really appreciate your time and join us again next week for another exciting, interesting. text here...

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