In today’s world, women account for 47% of the working population in Canada. When it comes to Canada’s trucking industry, however, there’s a noticeable shortage of women truck drivers: only 3% of Canada’s truck drivers, mechanics, technicians, and cargo workers are female. Addressing this gender gap sooner rather than later is imperative for many reasons. According to a recent study prepared by CPCS for the Canadian Trucking Alliance, there’ll be a shortage of 34,000 truck drivers by 2024.
One of the main contributors to this deepening shortage is the lack of flexibility the job offers. Long-haul truck drivers are often required to spend a lot of time away from home, which can make it more difficult for women to fill these jobs if they are the primary caregiver at home.
To address this issue, the Government of Canada has committed to providing more than $421,000 in funds to develop mentorship and educational programs to help further the careers of women in Canada’s trucking industry. The result, Women with Drive, was established in 2015 with a national advisory committee that includes female managers, directors, presidents and C-level executives from across the trucking industry.
Its objectives are simple:
- Raise awareness among women of the various career opportunities that exist in the trucking and freight transportation industry.
- Raise awareness among employers of recruitment and retention practices that can better support the integration of women into the trucking workforce.
- Develop practical tools to support connecting women with careers in Trucking and Freight Transportation.
Women mentoring women
“Mentorship is an important element in all of our lives,” said Nora Hillyer, SVP, Customer Excellence at Northbridge who sits as a Senior Advisor on the Women with Drive Committee. “Having someone available to guide us through what seem to be insurmountable obstacles is something that we can all benefit from at times in both our personal and business lives.”
Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada supports this view. “It’s not about affirmative action or employment equity audits, it’s about not overlooking 50% of the potential workforce in Canada,” said Angela. David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, championed the partnership with Women with Drive, and agrees that the industry has to start looking at the numbers and creating equality in the trucking industry. “We are still very much a male-dominated industry,” he said. “We have a shortage of drivers, managers, senior executives. We have the oldest workforce in the country. Why wouldn’t we look to fill those jobs with women?”
The second annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit wrapped up in March this year, bringing in many trucking industry leaders, along with human resource professionals committed to recruiting, retaining and mentoring women in Canada’s trucking industry.
Championing a new way forward
In its second successful year, Women with Drive continues to pave the way for women truck drivers who have been underrepresented to date. “Our time has arrived to both address and support the needs of our industry, while empowering our women to be all that they can be,” said Nora. “Knowing that carriers need to look at ways to recruit drivers from non-traditional domestic sources creates the situation for Women with Drive to accomplish their objectives.”