Women in Trucking
The world is fast moving towards adapting the mentality of gender equality. Almost 50% of the woman population in the world are working women, but the transportation industry still struggles to attract and retain women on the job. Gender equality and gender diversity in the workforce can have a greater impact on economic growth.
To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the industry, Ellen Voie started the Women in Trucking in 2007.
Ellen has had a background in trucking industry that began back in 1980, when she got her diploma in traffic and transportation management while being the Traffic Manager for a steel fabricating plant. And then later she worked as a freelance transportation consultant to carriers in Wisconsin, licensing and permitting trucks for more than 16 years.
Women in Trucking Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, address obstacles that might keep women from entering, or succeeding in the trucking industry, and to celebrate the success of its members.
The goal is simply to increase the percentage of women in the trucking industry. WIT represents the women who design, build, sell, own, fix and drive trucks and is very proud that eighteen percent of the members are men who believe in their mission. The organization is not FOR women as much as it is ABOUT women.
To begin something new is always challenging. Ellen too faced hurdles in the beginning of Women in Trucking. 2007, the year when WIT was started, the country was facing a recession crisis and the trucking industry had been greatly affected by it. Ellen started the company with just two people, which included herself and her assistant. Initial years were hard as the conviction of a non-profit organization was not taken as smoothly. But in the first year they had over 500 members join!
As the organization grew, they needed more resources and hired an association management firm, and realized they had the ability to expand using their resources. That allowed them to manage the growth of the organization in a controlled and predicted way. As for a non-profit organization, the growth of the company is measured on the addition of the dues paying members. With just 500 members on board, there are about 5000 members today.
WIT is the ONLY organization devoted to bringing more women into the supply chain industry. They are a resource for nearly 5000 members. The company offers information to corporate members on how to attract and retain female driver, how to avoid and address harassment for truck drivers, best practices in attracting and retaining women in transportation and so much more. WIT works with truck stops on safety, security and amenities. They work with truck manufacturers on truck cab design and ergonomics. Currently, WIT is also working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration on issues involving safety and harassment for women in the trucking industry.
WIT is also working on a driver ambassador program where they will put a female driver in a tractor-trailer combination to visit schools, trade shows, conferences and truck stops to talk about the Women In Trucking Association and the benefits of joining.
WIT right now represents almost 11 countries, and although women only represent eight percent of the professional drivers in the United States, WIT is the leader in the world in regard to attracting and retaining female drivers.
The Women in Trucking Foundation is an organization that supports ambitious students, drivers, and professionals in the trucking industry who seek to grow their skills through classroom and vocational training. WIT is a community of corporations, foundations and individuals who value professional development in the trucking industry and are committed to seeing it grow.
They raise funds for scholarships, evaluate applications, and distribute funds to schools to ensure that women in the trucking industry have the support they need to grow their skills and themselves. In turn, the trucking industry benefits from a diverse and well-trained workforce that has continuous opportunities for development.
The reason behind this long-standing success is the fact that WIT never fails to listen to their members. The WIT team takes it to themselves to reflect their concerns, challenges and even frustrations.
“We listen and we act to make the transportation industry a better place for women.”
Breaking the Stereotype!
“The first reaction I get from people when I tell them I lead an organization called, “Women In Trucking” is “Are you a trucker?” People have a disconnect when it comes to trucks. They see them on the road, but they don’t make a connection to the items them purchase in the store or the gas they put in their cars, the clothes they are wearing or anything else. Everything comes on a truck!”
Women look at the world differently. First, we want to ensure that our contributions will have lasting effects. We want to work for a company that is making the world a better place for everyone. Secondly, we are very collaborative and team focused. We want our colleagues to succeed, because it makes us feel better about our leadership abilities. Finally, we are more risk averse when it comes to decision making. We look at all the options and consider the ones that reflect our values, our goals and our long term vision for the company.
Ellen Voie- The Driving Force
With a successful career trajectory, Ellen has been a recipient of many awards for Women in Trucking. She has received the 2015 ‘Distinguished Alumna of the Year’. She was also named as one of Supply & Demand Chain Executives magazine’s “2016 Pros to Know”. In the year 2016, Ellie was also chosen as one of the Fleet Owner’s Dozen Outstanding Women in Trucking.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Is what she strongly believes in.