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Trucking companies are taking steps to expand and reaffirm their commitment to a diversified workforce, and to promote trucking as an inclusive industry.
XPO Logistics on July 28 announced that LaQuenta Jacobs assumed the newly created role of chief diversity officer, where she will help lead the company’s strategic direction as an advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion.
An internal hire, she joined XPO in 2018 as head of human resources for the company’s last-mile business unit after holding senior HR roles with Delta Air Lines Inc., The Home Depot Inc., Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc. and Georgia-Pacific Corp.
“I’m delighted that our first chief diversity officer is such a qualified candidate from within our own organization,” said Bradley Jacobs, CEO of XPO Logistics, which is based in Greenwich, Conn., and ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies.
“LaQuenta is a unique talent,” Jacobs said. “She cares deeply about the human aspects of diversity and also knows how to advance cultural development within a public company of XPO’s size.”
Civil unrest and several high-profile cases of minorities being killed by law enforcement have turned renewed attention to the subject of racial justice.
Fleets throughout the industry have in recent weeks focused more closely on diversity, and have discussed publicly how their companies are reaffirming and expanding those efforts.
“As part of our commitment to our employees, we have also spent much time thinking about what is happening across the country as it relates to race, justice and equity,” U.S. Xpress CEO Eric Fuller said during a July 29 conference call with investors. “As a management team, we believe it is important to stand up for what is right and the need to make more progress toward equality and social justice.”
U.S. Xpress is forming a diversity and inclusion council made up of employees to achieve that goal. The council will make recommendations to a strategy team about how to be more inclusive. That includes having a diverse applicant pool.
“This council is a significant and meaningful first step for our organization and we believe it’s the right way for us to begin to contribute resources and create an impact,” Fuller said. “We are confident this will live up to that responsibility.”
Werner Enterprises is a member of the Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity and Equity program that is organized by the Greater Omaha Chamber in its home city in Nebraska.
“Werner Enterprises is dedicated to further strengthening its focus on diversity and inclusion,” Jim Schelble, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Werner Enterprises, told Transport Topics. “Our executive leadership’s focus on enhancing our diversity and inclusion programming within the organization is paramount and at the forefront of our operations to ensure we are a place that attracts talented candidates.”
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“Recent tragic events have intensified the national discussion for diversity and inclusion,” CEO Derek Leathers said during a July 29 conference call with investors to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings. “Our core values continue to be based on respect and inclusion in everything we do. Our team is continuing to take steps by our words, deeds and actions to further strengthen our diversity and inclusion program.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 there were 3.6 million people working in the employment category that includes trucks drivers. Of them, 20.5% were Hispanic or Latino, 18.1% were Black, 6.7% were women and 2.9% were Asian. On a percentage basis, the BLS data from 2016 shows that there has been growth; that year, when the sector had about 3.5 million workers, about 14.8% were Black, 6% were women and 2.6% were Asian. Around 21.3% of the sector was Hispanic or Latino that year, higher than 2019 numbers.
“We’re working with our internal diversity council to heighten awareness internally,” said USA Truck CEO James Reed during a July 28 conference call. “We will continue to recruit diverse candidates in our new college graduate program as we always have. We’ve also recommitted to being a more thoughtful, more aware and more engaged community.
Reed added the company is also focusing on developing diverse talent into leadership roles. That includes recruiting from historically black colleges and universities.
J.B. Hunt CEO John Roberts said during a July 16 conference call that the subjects of inclusion and diversity were increasingly top-of-mind at the company.
“While this is not a new topic here at J.B. Hunt, the level and quality of dialogue has elevated in recent weeks,” he said. “I can report that the entire executive leadership team is actively engaged in understanding where we are and determining where we want to go in improving these vital elements through all levels of the company.”
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