British Columbia Trucking Association
The work of truck drivers is often underestimated and underappreciated, yet it plays an indispensable role in our daily lives.
Truck drivers are the backbone of the transportation industry, from delivering goods and supplies to ensuring the smooth functioning of supply chains. However, it is not only the crucial nature of their work that deserves recognition and celebration this National Trucking Week; it is also essential to recognize the diverse tapestry that exists within the trucking industry. Truck drivers come from various backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and cultures. They bring with them unique perspectives, experiences, and skills that enrich the industry and foster innovation. By celebrating and embracing this diversity, we will open doors to new ideas, fresh approaches, and better problem-solving techniques.
Our industry across North America has been predominantly male-dominated for too long and needs more representation from various ethnicities and backgrounds. However, this outdated narrative is gradually being challenged, and the industry is currently undergoing a transformation driven by the growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion.
A Driving Force in Trucking
Diversity in the trucking industry brings many benefits that extend beyond the notion of equal representation. Embracing diversity in the trucking industry gives way to opportunities for growth and progress. By bringing a range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table, a diverse workforce encourages innovation. It enhances problem-solving capabilities, as individuals with varied backgrounds can offer unique insights to tackle challenges. Furthermore, a diverse workforce reflects the multicultural societies in which we live, fostering a sense of inclusion and understanding among employees and customers. Companies that reflect diversity are better equipped to understand and cater to the needs of their diverse customer base.
With Canada’s driver shortage expected to reach almost 25,000 vacancies by 2025, our industry has directed its recruiting efforts toward the underutilized labour market. By promoting equal opportunity and fairness, individuals from all walks of life can pursue trucking careers, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or other factors. Initiatives to recruit and support underrepresented groups, provide equal opportunities for career advancement, and promote inclusive policies are gaining momentum.
Of Canada’s 1.5 million Indigenous peoples, 46% are under the age of 24, and more than half live in cities. Partnering with Indigenous communities, implementing pre-employment programs, advertising on Indigenous job boards, and developing educational partnerships to facilitate employment transitions and career development are some steps employers are taking to engage with Indigenous communities.
Over two million employed Canadians aged 25 to 64 years are disabled. Of those employees, 37% required at least one workplace accommodation to be able to work.1 Companies are adopting inclusive and proactive measures by developing accessibility and accommodations strategies and disability-inclusive policies. This includes providing reasonable accommodations during the application process and in the workplace itself to ensure equal access and opportunities for disabled employees.
More than nine million people identify as visible minorities in Canada, and companies that are developing diverse recruitment strategies, from sponsoring and attending community events to creating targeted outreach initiatives,
But by far, the largest underrepresented demographic in our industry is women. Based on BC Trucking Association’s (BCTA) 2022 Compensation Survey, 3.4% of drivers are female – a frightfully low number considering women represent 48% of Canada’s labour force. Efforts are being made to break down stereotypes, encourage women to consider trucking careers and address the unique challenges they may face in a traditionally male-dominated field.
We must continue to encourage the development of programs and initiatives to encourage underrepresented communities to join our industry. In June, the Ontario government unveiled a $1.3 million investment in the Bridging the Gaps in Trucking program to provide funding to women looking to join our industry. In BC, the Vancouver YWCA offers Changing Gears, a free 24-week training program designed to help women obtain a Class 1 driver’s licence. The next cycle begins in November, and those interested are encouraged to contact their local WorkBC Centre. For more details, visit www.ywcavan.org/changing-gears.
To help develop key initiatives to encourage diversity in employment and support women with issues such as training, safety, compensation, and professional development, BCTA’s Women in Trucking Committee was formed in June 2022.
One of the primary objectives of this committee is to provide comprehensive support and valuable resources to women. Through a range of events and programs, such as mentorship initiatives, networking opportunities, and exposure to training and development programs, the committee aims to foster a strong community of women professionals in the trucking sector.
Shifting Gears for Success
The trucking industry is undergoing a transformation as it recognizes the importance of embracing diversity and creating an inclusive workforce. By breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes and practices, the industry creates a more equitable playing field and paves the way for a stronger future. Although the operational benefits of a diverse workforce are undeniable, one thing is clear – trucking’s transformation toward greater diversity and inclusion is not just an opportunity for growth but a testament to the industry’s commitment to progress and equality.
And most importantly, that commitment plays a pivotal role in retaining truck drivers within the industry. Recognizing and addressing the unique needs and challenges of drivers from various backgrounds nurtures a sense of belonging and support, ultimately improving driver satisfaction and retention rates. As the lifeblood of the industry, drivers form a vital link in the chain that connects manufacturers, distributors, and consumers. Without their dedication and hard work, the smooth flow of commerce and the functioning of our society as we know it would come to a grinding halt.
The BC Trucking Association expresses our heartfelt gratitude to the remarkable trucking community here in BC and across the country. Whether enduring long hours on the road, navigating challenging weather conditions, or overcoming logistical obstacles, they exemplify resilience and professionalism. Their commitment to serving others deserves our utmost admiration. Thank you for everything you do.
1 Statistics Canada; https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/ n1/pub/12-581-x/2022001/sec5-eng.htm; Canada at a Glance, 2022 – Accessibility and persons with disabilities.