Everyone’s looking for answers to The Great Driver Shortage. There’s certainly no silver bullet to cure what ails the trucking industry, though attracting a more diverse pool of drivers seems like an excellent place to start. Women, who make up more than 50% of the U.S. population but account for just under 6% of America’s truck drivers, are of particular interest.
Or at least they should be. It’s no secret that female truckers could be the resounding answer we all seek to the vexing driver dearth. And yet many recruiters are simply not doing enough (or anything in particular) to get more women behind the wheel.
So how about you? Do you have a strategy to reach female drivers? Are you doing enough to reach, recruit, and retain them? You could be missing out on an abundant source of dependable, skilled drivers if not.
How Do You Reach Female Drivers?
For starters, it helps to know something about them. In an effort to do just that we recently surveyed readers of She Drives — our publication devoted to female truckers — to gather demographic data and personal perspectives of their lives in trucking.
Here’s a slice of what we learned from the 300+ respondents.
- 68% identified as company drivers; 29% were owner-operators.
- Nearly 60% were between the ages of 35-54.
- 62.5% said they primarily drove long haul routes.
- 31.3% had driven a truck less than 5 years; while 22.6% had helmed a rig for more than 20 years.
- 54.6% of respondents said they ‘love their job.’
- The top two reasons they’d leave their current job for another gig: More Pay (50.7%) and More Home Time (30.6%).
- Just 1.6% indicated they ‘fear for their personal safety’ while doing their job.
- 23% bring a dog along for the ride.
- 68.1% have received praise for the way they drive.
- When asked what truck stops could do to make life on the road better, 77.3% of respondents identified ‘healthier food options.’
- 98.4% know how to drive a manual transmission.
- 88.5% said they would recommend truck driving as a career to other women.
As mentioned above, this is just a snippet of what we learned about women in trucking. The respondents also provided thoughtful comments about the unique challenges female drivers face on the job, including plenty of straight talk about what their chief concerns, annoyances, and motivations are.
This, of course, is valuable information for anyone hoping to reach and recruit female truck drivers, and a great start toward targeting prospects online and in person.
Relationships, Perks, and Empathy
That said, no two truckers are alike. And data can only do so much. If you’re trying to recruit women — or anyone else for that matter — you need to consider the living, breathing human beings you’re trying to reach. Connect with (and learn from) women in trucking. What motivates them? What are potential barriers that might prevent folks from wanting to work with you? What things do they care about most?
Take the time to get to know women in the industry and pick their brains. Subscribe to the She Drives newsletter and read content by and for women.
In addition to the things everyone wants (more pay, home time, nice signing bonus, etc.), try to create new perks and small comforts as much as you can. Think outside the box. Take, for instance, the stat mentioned above about truckers wishing for healthier food options on the road. What can you do to make that happen? Gift cards? Equipping rigs with Nutribullets? How about crockpots?
Thoughtful, empathetic perks can give you a major edge over your competitors.
It’s a Competition Issue
The takeaway here is that there is, in our midst, a pool of superb truck drivers who are more than fit for duty. Recruiting female drivers is not so much a diversity issue as a competition and profitability issue. It’s a matter of your loss and someone else’s gain.
Recruiters should be intentional and proactive about reaching out to women, as well as working toward dispelling outdated notions that driving a truck is ‘man’s work.’ That mindset is not just silly, it’s costly.
Plus, let’s be honest, women are better drivers anyway.
Give us a holler if you’d like access to the full 2016 She Drives Reader Profile, or if you’d like to know more about our other industry research. And if you have a minute, this profile of two veteran truckers is worth a listen!