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October 2, 2019 2:45 PM, EDT

Want More Female Drivers? Include Them in Ads, Experts Say

How to attract more female drivers. Allison Geist, operations support manager at NFI, asks the crowd who feels affected by the driver shortage. (Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics)

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DALLAS — Companies can attract female drivers by showcasing women on the job in their advertisements, according to experts assembled at the Women In Trucking Association’s annual conference.

Beth Potratz, president of Drive My Way, said smart advertisements can help people envision themselves at a certain company. Potratz on Oct. 2 led one of a couple of sessions dedicated to recruitment. Based in Cleveland, Drive My Way is a recruiting platform that matches drivers and owner-operators to trucking jobs.

NFI, a New Jersey-based carrier specializing in transportation, warehousing and intermodal services, created a marketing campaign featuring female drivers to attract more women. Launched in August 2018, the campaign involved a video starring Katherine Powell, one of their drivers. NFI has released a video per month since then, and team representatives said those that feature women have become their most popular.

“There was a thirst for this in the market,” Alexa Branco, senior operations support manager at NFI, said during a session Oct. 1. “Representation matters.”

Allison Geist, operations support manager at NFI, pointed out that women can play an important role in offsetting the driver shortage. American Trucking Associations has reported the industry was short 60,000 drivers as of last year. Although they make up about half the population, women hold less than 8% of truck driving jobs.

Besides advertising campaigns, Potratz said companies can appeal to women by recognizing and addressing their concerns, ranging from equipment to safety issues. Potratz identified ergonomics, such as a seat that better suits a woman’s body, and cabin accessories as equipment concerns frequently voiced by female drivers. She experienced truck driving firsthand through a two-day ride-along with Carol Nixon, a driver for Walmart Transportation.

“It’s not like your living room,” Potratz said about the inside of a truck cab. “You want to be comfortable.”

Meeting with a driver to hear his or her concerns shouldn’t be a rare occurrence, Potratz said. She recommended employers schedule regular meetings and conduct performance reviews to get feedback. Often, she noted, concerns may be small, such as a new uniform shirt.

“It’s a constant conversation,” Potratz said. “It’s not a once-a-year check-in.”

Nicole Chukreeff, a representative of job site ClassADrivers.com, said companies can retain female drivers by listening to concerns and offering extra vacation time or bonuses. She suggested bonuses marking work anniversaries or safe driving miles may be more effective than sign-on bonuses. She compared bonuses for safe driving miles to giving her 7-year-old daughter a piece of candy only after she cleaned her room.

Female Truck Drivers

Branco, Potratz and Chukreeff highlight ways for companies to attract female drivers. (Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics)

Chukreeff also encouraged companies to use targeted and truthful messaging in their job board posts. For example, instead of placing a notice for a generic trucking position, firms can specify whether a job will require flatbed or dry van driving. She urged fleets to explore other marketing tools, such as social media platforms, noting that truckers particularly like Facebook.

“Those are other ways that you can get applications and the flow of applications,” Chukreeff said.

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