As an experienced inland marine underwriter, I am keenly aware of the impact of risks in the trucking industry. Besides the risks and exposures to motor truck cargo, another major risk I see is the ongoing driver shortage. One solution to that problem should be obvious: hire more women.
Trucking firms of all sizes are seeking qualified drivers, due to turnover and an increasing demand for freight services in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Without enough drivers, the industry cannot meet their customers' existing demand for freight, let alone pursue growth opportunities. A driver shortage also increases the potential for cargo losses. I discussed some of these issues relating to motor truck cargo in an earlier blog post.
Research and experience show that women drivers can make a difference, but the trucking industry still has struggled to recruit and retain women. According to a survey by FreightWaves, and data from American Trucking Associations, in 2019 women represented 10.2% of the nation's 3.5 million over-the-road truck drivers. In 2000, they accounted for 4.5%. That is certainly progress, but even at that rate, it will take almost 100 years to reach a level where 50% of truck drivers are women. The trucking business must ramp up its efforts to bring more women into it.
In addition to reducing the talent shortage, recruiting more women into commercial truck driving can help firms reduce risks and increase safety. According to the National Transportation Institute, women drivers tend to take fewer risks on the road, have fewer accidents, work more efficiently, choose motor carriers more carefully and stay on the job longer than men.
What trucking firms can do
In spite of those facts, it’s surprising that 35% of trucking companies have no programs designed to recruit and retain women, according to a survey by DriverIQ. Whether a trucking organization has a formal recruitment program for women or not, there are several steps the trucking industry can take to recruit and include women as drivers. These steps include:
- Making compensation commensurate with skill and experience.
- Allowing male drivers to train their spouses.
- Increasing the number of female trainers and mentors.
- Recruiting women retired from military service.
- Creating clear mission statements, resource groups and recognition programs supporting women in trucking.
- Training employees to identify and stop sexual harassment and discrimination.
- Providing equipment that’s comfortable and suitable for both men and women.
- Improving safety at truck stops around the country.
- Offering flexible work schedules to allow more time at home between hauls.
- Funding scholarships for female high school graduates to obtain their commercial driver’s license.
Trucking firms that commit to gender diversity are likely to see above-average financial returns, a result observed across other industries that have high percentages of women employees. With historically thin margins, trucking businesses cannot afford to miss opportunities to improve their growth and profitability – or to reduce their risks.
Statistics show that women are generally safer drivers than men, and they are less likely to commit hours of service violations or skirt safety regulations. In addition, women tend to be more prepared for work assignments and work well as part of a team. Companies that promote opportunities for women and nurture women’s need for connection and belonging are more likely to retain women as drivers. That’s clearly good for the trucking industry over the long haul.
Tokio Marine America can help motor carriers and their risk advisers navigate the complexity of motor truck cargo. We’re a digitally savvy insurer that understands transportation logistics and cargo risks. We help manage conventional and emerging risks through our expertise and proprietary needed coverages. During times of change and stress, we prove our value by focusing on delivering Anshin, the Japanese word for safety, security and peace of mind.
Talk to us about the risks your business faces. To learn how Tokio Marine America can make a difference in your business, visit www.tmamerica.com or contact me at email@example.com.
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