Actionable advice from 2021 Top Companies for Women to Work For in Transportation
How To Be Inclusive in 4 Not-So-Easy Steps
Grace Sharkey, Reporter
Oct 29, 2021
On Monday, nonprofit association Women in Trucking (WIT) announced its annual Top Companies for Women to Work For in Transportation.
The list showcases companies that took actions to not only increase the number of women in their organizations but retain and develop them into leaders as well.
Transportation companies are judged and voted on by fellow Women in Trucking members in areas including corporate cultures, compensation, benefits, professional development and career advancements.
A recent study from Congress found that while 46% of the national workforce is made up of women, females hold only 24% of transportation and warehousing jobs. Of that 24%, 12.5% work in truck transportation, 8% own logistics firms and 6.6% are truck drivers.
Women in Trucking believes that recognizing these top companies will help teach others better business practices for developing a strong female workforce in transportation, and more importantly, retain that talent to help lead generations of women to come.
Below are four ways that industry leaders have recruited and maintained high levels of female engagement within their companies, creating a more inclusive workplace for future thought leaders.
Create an Employee Resource Group
One of the most common trends among WIT’s Top 100 companies was the establishment of employee resource groups (ERGs), often employee-led voluntary committees that represent a specific group of individuals.
These groups are not always based on gender — there are employee organizations on race, disabilities, military service and sexual orientation.
While on the surface this may not seem like a way to recruit more women into the transportation industry, it is a way to foster and maintain a dynamic, open-minded culture.
In an interview with FreightWaves, Charlie Saffro, founder and president of CS Recruiting, described how focusing on retaining employees first leads to organic recruitment.
“You won’t be able to hire females unless you have a good environment for females to thrive in,” she explained. “For example, when looking at freight brokerages, if the sales floor is full of swearing, on-the-floor arguments, creating a hostile environment, you are going to lose females and they are going to tell other females not to go into logistics because of it. … Instead, you need to create a safe workplace that they can see themselves thriving in, no matter where they are in life.”
That is just what these ERGs do: create a safe place for women to be heard and to become a part of the culture.
Digital freight network Convoy was listed on the WIT Top 100 and has recently created its own ERG, known as the [email protected]
The company has used this group as a source of development and empowerment for its female employees, who like many digital brokerages, balance working between two male-dominated industries: transportation and technology.
“In 2021, we’ve been focusing on strengthening this culture of inclusion, mitigating bias and fostering a diverse employee community through several initiatives,” said Sunita Solao, vice president of people at Convoy.
“Convoy’s ERGs are a great example of this effort and are at the heart of our community and key to fostering a sense of belonging at the company. We currently have eight employee-led groups, which offer a forum and opportunity to network internally, build a diverse community and create opportunities for learning and development,” Solao said.
Often these ERGs can affect how women in the workplace are treated as well, building that inclusive atmosphere a company is looking to achieve.
BlueGrace Logistics, also listed in WIT Top 100, uses its diversity-focused “Lunch and Learns” to engage all employees, showcasing the different lives women and those of minority status live outside of work, along with monthly engagement surveys to ensure company events are properly supporting women in the workplace.
BlueGrace’s No. 1 core value is ‘Be Caring of All Others,’ and this has been just as vital in our professional success as it has been in shaping our inclusive culture
“BlueGrace’s No. 1 core value is ‘Be Caring of All Others,’ and this has been just as vital in our professional success as it has been in shaping our inclusive culture,” said Ledora Brown, senior public relations manager at BlueGrace Logistics.
Brown explained that BlueGrace does more than promote these initiatives within its four walls, the company encourages its employees to attend and promote outside events that could contribute to the growth of the company’s inclusive culture.
“BlueGrace advocated for me to present at a conference in New York recently for a PR News award-winning program I helped create called ‘Identifying the Elephant in Room: Critical Communications Strategies in the Face of Racism.’ Leadership recognizes equity and inclusion is an on-going process and I look forward to contributing to our continued growth,” she said.
For many women, the key concern when entering a workplace is not to just feel included in the group but to be sure that equity is important to the organization. Equity is achieved when everyone has access to the same treatment, opportunities and advancement as all other employees and aims to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent all minority statuses from participating.
One of the simplest ways to help achieve equity in the workplace is through education, whether that comes from providing tuition reimbursement, in-house mentorship programs or development opportunities.
Global logistics provider XPO has championed this through both its XPO University classes and its employee resource group #SheIsXPO, which encourages the development of midlevel female leaders.