- A group of senators reintroduced legislation that would create an advisory board within the FMCSA to help create opportunities for women in the trucking industry. When the legislation, called the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act, was introduced in 2019, it had the support of Women in Trucking, the American Trucking Associations, FedEx and UPS, according to a news release.
- According to the proposed bill, the board would review and report on policies and programs to provide education, training, mentorship or outreach, as well as to recruit, retain or advance women in the industry. Women account for less than 7% of truck drivers and about 25% of transportation and warehousing jobs, ATA said in a letter supporting the reintroduced bill.
- "At a time when trucking companies are struggling to find and retain workers, we must support and remove barriers to entry for women in this field," Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas, one of the two lawmakers who introduced the House companion bill, said in the release.
Women represent a largely unbroached area of recruitment to ease the driver shortage. Under the bill, the proposed advisory board would look at obstacles minority groups might face, where women live and any unique safety risks the trucking industry might present, among other objectives.
The bill also mandates the board file a report to the FMCSA administrator two years after it begins operating. The report would contain any findings, as well as recommendations for companies, associations, institutions, other organizations or even the FMCSA. After the advisory board files the report with the recommendations, the bills gives the FMCSA a year to submit a report to the transportation committees in the House and Senate.
Increasing representation at the federal level is one way policy leaders can get a better understanding of what has traditionally kept women from entering the industry.
In January, WIT announced four members had been appointed to FMCSA safety groups. WIT President and CEO Ellen Voie was appointed to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, which this year included a record number of women. Three members of WIT's Image Team — a portion of the group that holds outreach events for lawmakers, regulators and industry leaders — were appointed to the Driver Subcommittee.
Some fleets, such as Ryder and CFI, have created internal groups to support women in their workforce. Through social media and job boards, they're encouraging women to apply.
"Men and women work in different ways, bringing different strengths to the table, so it makes sense that gender diversity can lead to better business decisions," Lesley Kerr, Ryder's vice president of human resources, said in October.
Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas introduced the bill in November 2019, but no further action was taken after it was referred to committee. A new Congress means old bills must be reintroduced to be considered again.
This time around, Moran stressed the essential role trucking played during the coronavirus. The added visibility the industry received during 2020 could help the bill go further.
Along with Moran, the bill was reintroduced by Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Deb Fischer from Nebraska and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester from Montana — all members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Davids and Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin introduced the companion bill in the House.