Why Diversity in the Trucking Industry Matters

Much has been said about the labor shortage across the country over the last year, but that shortage is nothing new to the trucking industry. The driver shortage has been a challenge since before COVID and has only gotten worse. Trucking and transportation companies are doing everything they can to recruit people who are willing to take on one of the most challenging jobs in the world, and in doing so, they are looking to a diverse audience of potential employees along with an approach that is inclusive provides equal opportunities for people with all abilities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020 trucking transportation data shows that women make up just 12.4% of trucking’s workforce. In addition, 76.6% of the industry is white, 17.1% Black, 3.6% Asian, and 22.6% Hispanic or Latino.

The conversation around diversity and inclusion (DI) has touched every sector. The trucking and transportation sector is just one of the many who are leaning toward equity in ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and more. It’s not just a move toward legal compliance but many are seeing it as simply the right thing to do. Attracting a more diverse workforce is good for the company and great for the company culture. It might also just boost your profitability.

The Benefits of DI for Your Company

Hiring a diverse workforce reflective of your community not only improves the internal culture but also improves the perception of your company and bolsters the local economy. While some trucking companies have been slow to embrace inclusion as a business strategy, many have looked to the statistics that show the overwhelming benefits of DI in the workforce.

A 2020 Mckinsey study showed that while the sentiment on inclusion scored a 61% (negative) to 29% (positive) impression, the overall sentiment on diversity showed very different numbers with 53% (positive) and 31% (negative). The challenge is that diversity does not necessarily encompass inclusion. While diversity can be represented by a concrete number, inclusion is moral behavior. Companies with strong values and cultures are implementing strategies for inclusion as well as diversity, and it needs to be strongly supported by the leadership to be successful. At the 2021 ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition in Nashville, US Xpress, CEO, Eric fuller put it simply regarding employees and DI.

Without inclusion, then diversity goes away when they feel they have no support,” You can’t have one without the other. Unfortunately, you see a lot of companies that go with the diversity piece and don’t follow through with inclusion.

John Stomps, President and CEO of the Jackson, Mississippi-based, Total Transportation of Mississippi, suggests culture comes from the leadership first.

Inclusion, however, is a culture, and you’ve got to have that from the top down. You’ve got to have a commitment from your people, and it better start at the top. If your people don’t believe in it, then you will have a problem keeping people around.

What the report and industry experts are saying is clear. The more diverse the company, the stronger the health, reputation, and position of the company in the competitive arena as well as improved profitability and performance. The benefits have been measured as follows:

  1. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile
  2. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity have 36% greater profitability than companies in the lowest quartile
  3. Companies with executive teams that are at least 30% women outperform companies with fewer than this amount, creating a 48% difference in performance between the two
  4. Companies with low ethnic and cultural diversity are also outperformed by their more diverse counterparts

How to Apply DI to your Operation

Even though the benefits are proven, there may be resistance to implementation based on the lack of recruiting strategies or clear know-how. McKinsey has helped by laying out the best approach for balanced employment efforts and techniques to embrace inclusivity in meaningful ways. They are as follows:

  1. Enforcement and Accountability: Define what it means to be inclusive and enforce the behavior.
  2. Create a task force for promoting Inclusion and Diversity (DI) and make conscious decisions when building teams, hiring for any position, and promoting from within.
  3. Train your internal team on unconscious biases and deploy recruiting tactics and tools to de-bias hiring techniques and advancement processes.
  4. Tackle discrimination in all aspects of the business including communications and culture and foster an open and trusting environment where employees are comfortable talking about the issues.

In the trucking industry, DI speaks to more than just drivers. The entire company should work together in creating a culture that is representative of the community in race, age, sexual orientation, and those with cognitive or physical impairments. The best recruiting tactics for creating a diverse workforce start with an honest culture and then awareness around it.

• Utilize employment sites that show diversity. Leverage those resources for recruiting. • Incorporate a DI strategy as outlined above and implement those strategies into the hiring and recruiting process. • Offer internships or apprenticeships to capture a diverse younger workforce. • Develop a reward-based referral program for capturing diversity and those most underrepresented.

Overall, what studies like McKinsey show is that DI is a way to attract talent and a way to keep the teams you have. A younger recruiting pool will not only be looking for it in the culture, but they will also demand it. College graduates today are looking for culture first and that is represented in the diversity of the workforce. Xpress CEO, Fuller goes on to say, “You will not make it for the next 20 years if you don’t have an intentional approach around inclusion and diversity. It is a business imperative. If you don’t set up that environment within your company and people start to retire, those younger people are not going to want to work for you, and it’s going to have an impact.”

So, stay ahead of the demand and start your diversity and inclusion strategy now. Leverage the strength of differences to do better business.

If you are interested in working with D&D trucking and transportation, we have multiple opening that might be of interest. Visit our careers page online today.




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SmartWay Transport PartnerIdaho Private 100 Award WinnerTransportation Intermediaries Association MemberMcleod SoftwareIdaho Trucking Association MemberWomen in Trucking Member