Here’s a question the team at The National Transportation Institute hears often — and it’s likely one you’ve asked internally at your fleet, too: How can we make driving jobs more appealing to women?
And a corollary to that: How can we better retain women drivers when we do bring them on?
While there’s plenty of work to be done in attracting a younger female demographic (see our post from last week for some thoughts and ideas there) to the industry, right now, the vast majority of women who enter trucking and are on the road today are in their 40s and 50s – and they’re in the back-half of their career.
Their children have grown up. They’re looking for independence after that stage of their life. They want the adventure and opportunity to see the country that trucking offers.
Knowing that’s the demographic, the answers to the questions above, about how to recruit and retain more women into your fleet, aren’t as complicated as many make it out to be. And by checking the right boxes, you make it more likely to get referrals for other new entrant drivers, too.
Here’s a winning formula — rooted both in NTI’s data and in our team’s extensive work developing programs with fleets and engaging with female drivers week in and week out:
Financial security and independence: Women entering trucking usually are looking for financial independence and security, first and foremost. So any benefits package needs to start with competitive compensation – and no confusion about pay rates from the recruiting process to their actual paychecks. Many women joining the industry often are providing for themselves and they see trucking as a career path that offers them a paycheck to build that foundation.
Good healthcare at an affordable price: Since most female drivers are middle-aged, they need elite healthcare packages, and they’re looking for affordable yet comprehensive healthcare options. Look for plans with affordable premiums, but also with modest deductibles and copays, as well as a wide network of providers to choose from. And try to be generous in covering the costs of their monthly premiums.
Solid retirement benefits: With drivers in their 40s and 50s trying to close the gap on retirement savings, and many likely making up for lost time from their 20s and 30s, providing strong retirement benefits in the form of 401(k)s or another similar program is paramount, as is providing a competitive match to their contributions. Also, a great kicker would be offering no-strings-attached financial coaching to help them navigate their path to retirement on an individualized basis.
Same-gender training policies and other safety protocols: Trainees and new entrant drivers want to feel safe and secure, and that’s often simply not the case if they have to do in-cab, behind-the-wheel training with a male colleague, especially on overnight trips. While this may complicate the logistics of training, it’s an important component of fleets being able to hire women drivers and to ensure their training is handled properly and safely. Also, be cognizant of other situations that may pose safety risks, such as overnight parking. Women often feel unsafe leaving their truck at night to use the restroom, so providing in-cab toilets for female drivers, or even regular hotel stipends, could be a major boost to your fleet’s efforts to recruit and retain female drivers. Lastly, if all of your cabs are keyed the same, consider the security risks inherently contained within your own fleet.
Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear your approaches to trying to recruit more women into trucking and to your fleet: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case you’ve missed it, The National Transportation Institute has devoted blog coverage all month to celebrating Women’s History Month. Our first piece celebrated prominent figures in trucking history. Then, NTI CEO Leah Shaver penned this farewell note to her time on the Women in Trucking Board of Directors. And last week, we covered ways that trucking can be a leader in offering creative childcare policies and family benefits.