In The News
Women in Trucking, with Ellen Voie: Q&A
The following Q&A session between Expediters Online and Ellen Voie of Women In Trucking focuses on the organization’s fledgling days, the mission embarked upon, and the state of current affairs within a company that has shown tremendous growth and influence over the past 15 years.
Expediters Online: Ellen, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today about Women In Trucking and all that you and your organization bring to the transportation industry. As with any conversation, I’d like to start at the beginning. Talk about why you started Women In Trucking.
Ellen Voie: Thank you, Brandon. I went to school for a two-year diploma in Traffic and Transportation Management, which led me to a Traffic Manager position at the age of nineteen. After that, I started working as a trucking consultant where I helped companies keep drivers and their trucks legal, and I did that for 18 years. Eventually I went back to school for my Bachelor’s in Journalism and my Master’s in Communication, which I put to use with Trucker Buddy in 2000. Six years later, Schneider recruited me, and I worked there as the Manager of Retention and Recruiting Programs.
EO: So, what does the Manager of Retention and Recruiting Programs do?
EV: I was responsible for figuring out how to attract and retain non-traditional groups. Those groups were folks who were returning military, Hispanics, women, and seniors. My research in that role led me to ask why women enter the trucking industry, and why do they leave.
EO: So, you were still working with Schneider at that time?
EV: Yes. And while I was working there, in 2007, I put together a board of directors and created Women In Trucking. In just over 15 years we have grown to over 7,000 members in ten countries.
EO: Wow, that’s really impressive! So, with the beginning of WIT what became the goal or focus?
EV: Well, the mission of WIT is to encourage the employment of women in the industry, to address obstacles, and to celebrate success. That mission has never changed. I’d still like to see more women looking at careers in transportation, and not just as drivers.
EO: Well, let’s talk about a big focus in today’s world, and that’s diversity and inclusion. What is the role WIT plays in this realm of representation?
EV: Data is important, and I’d refer anyone to check out our website, www.womenintrucking.org, and take a look at the numbers and data found under the resources tab and then click on whitepapers. You’ll find loads of information regarding gender bias and harassment in the industry, plus information on recruiting and protecting female drivers. Also, our WIT Index was recently finished, and it includes up-to-date information on women in the trucking industry.
EO: All great information for women to take a look at, or any company out there looking for ways to increase the level of diversity within their organization. What’s something else that you’re really proud of? What else can you share?
EV: Oh! Our newly created Professional Driver Hub. It’s for anybody, any driver, male or female. It’s our way of helping drivers be informed before they come into the industry. It’s all free information, right there on the website!
EO: Wow! Well, information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. Right? But what would you say is your most important achievement, overall?
EV: I’m going to give you two. The most important thing we’ve ever been recognized for is when President Obama invited us to the White House in 2012 and we were named Transportation Innovator Champion of Change, part of President Obama’s “Champion of Change” series. The other is our extensive list of board of directors, companies (Amazon, Walmart, Daimler, etc.) with high-level executives who believe in us and our mission. It’s both breath-taking and flattering!
EO: You also have a new Driver Ambassador, KayLeigh McCall from Schneider, who is currently traveling the country and pulling WITney. Who, or what, is WITney?
EV: WITney is our fully-interactive trailer that KayLeigh takes to various events across the United States, and it’s used to promote jobs and careers in the trucking industry to women. There are interactive kiosks, a wall mural that tells our story, headset kiosks where people can listen to women’s trucking stories, a female-designed women’s trucker uniform, and our popular driver simulator. What’s really cool is that Walmart donated the trailer for us, and ATS (Advanced Training Systems) donated the driver simulator!
EO: Wow! What else can we share with our readers, that maybe they’re not aware of?
EV: We have the WIT Scholarship Foundation; it was founded in 2009-2010. We have given over $100,000 in scholarships in four different areas: CDL, Safety, Technicians, and Leadership. We encourage any woman in transportation, no matter their career path, to apply for our scholarship.
EO: Ellen, what you and Women In Trucking are doing is simply incredible. Any other news you’d like to share before we wrap things up?
EV: Well, I’m retiring. Haha!!
EO: What?! Congratulations! What does this mean?
EV: Well, next July is when I’m walking away from the day-to-day operations of the organization. But I don’t plan on leaving everything, I still want to speak and write, but I want to hand the reins to someone who will maintain what’s been built and keep it going strong.
EO: Okay, well that was unexpected. Haha!! Is this information we can divulge to the reading public?
EV: Definitely! I mean, I’m not going anywhere. I just want to step away from the daily operation of things. Let’s allow someone else to do that.
For more information on Women In Trucking, check out the website at WomenInTrucking.org