Clean, Safe Operations Key to Recruiting Women, Experts Say

Danielle Bansch
Danielle Bansch by Noël Fletcher, Transport Topics

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DALLAS — Expressing a clear desire to hire women and maintaining a safe, clean work environment are keys to expanding their representation in the trucking workforce, experts said.

“Women look at safety differently,” said Danielle Bansch, national account manager at commercial driver license staffing and recruiting firm TransForce Group, during a Nov. 14 discussion at the Accelerate! Conference and Expo hosted by Women In Trucking Association. She stressed that they look not only at a safety culture that promotes avoiding accidents, but also safety while traveling and sleeping on the road.

“They want clean trucks and nice facilities. If you have that, advertise it. If not, fix it,” said Bansch, a 12-year veteran at TransForce.

Bansch presented key findings from a survey of female truck drivers conducted by her company and WIT titled “Unlocking Driver Recruiting Success: Understanding How They Seek New Career Opportunities.” She noted that women “want to know what they are getting into” before they spend time completing lengthy job applications.

Their top concerns in deciding which truck driving jobs to apply for are pay, company reputation, schedule flexibility, route type (local, regional, over-the-road), health benefits and the ability to be home at night and on weekends, she said. She noted that carriers seeking to hire women should publicly highlight their culture for safety.

It is also important to highlight female drivers on websites and in ads and marketing materials, and to use inclusive language in job postings that emphasize clean, well-maintained equipment and facilities.

“What does your website look like?” Bansch asked, noting how some companies seeking female truck drivers show none on their website and few women in leadership posts, even if there are women working in those roles.

Advertisements should include the company name and rating, recruiter name/contact, freight touch level, route and equipment types, CDL and endorsement requirements, weekly pay rate, work hours, paid time-off policy and health benefits, she stressed.

“Hire women in groups so they don’t feel alone,” Bansch advised. “If you can’t, introduce female drivers to other women at your company working in other areas.” She noted that immediate introductions between new female drivers and other female employees (such as trainers and dispatchers) help promote a sense of belonging at a time when women still comprise a small percentage of those working in the transportation industry.

Bansch said the first 30 to 60 days are a crucial time, when new hires will decide whether to stay or go.

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Employers are more likely to retain female drivers by developing a culture where they feel a sense of belonging, and on par with male counterparts. Also vital is maintaining frequent and open communications, and sharing positive feedback when earned, she said.

Survey results also outlined the steps truck stops can take to make life easier for women on the road. These include a focus on safety measures, clean facilities and availability of items for women such as feminine hygiene products, underwear, shirts, socks, shoes and hats.

In addition, women said they appreciate accommodations in trucks like safety monitoring electronics for time spent in sleepers, vehicle accommodations for shorter people, and larger refrigerators to help store ingredients for preparing healthy meals.

Small changes like these, Bansch said, can make a big difference for female drivers.