Oprah Winfrey once said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” We know that mentors are important to each of us in advancing our careers and finding the hope inside ourselves. The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is offering a program focused on matching female drivers who are new to the industry, with women who have been behind the wheel for years.
In an effort to understand the needs of female commercial drivers WIT partnered with Sawgrass Logistics to conduct research identifying their challenges. One of the questions involved their driver training and whether they were offered a mentor or not. Unfortunately, 84 percent said they had not been given the option to work with a mentor. Those drivers who were provided with a mentor reported that twelve percent were matched with a male mentor and only three percent were given a female mentor.
It’s no wonder the turnover rate hovers around ninety percent in the trucking industry. When a driver completes her training, she has so many questions about choosing a carrier, staying in touch with her family, or tips for financial and personal health. Where can she turn for answers?
Now, there is a place for recent female commercial drivers to get the advice and wisdom they are looking for. The Women In Trucking Association has partnered with the LeadHER Alliance to launch a ten-month program beginning this month.
Female drivers who are new to the industry will be paired with a more seasoned driver who is willing to take the time and effort to share her expertise, knowledge and skills with her mentee. The program fees are covered by WIT, so there is no cost to the participants.
Each month the women will work with their matched partner in one-on-one meetings as well as with the entire group through an online gathering. There will be a presentation by an expert who will cover various subjects each session. The topics will range from how to choose the best carrier, how to stay healthy on the road and so much more.
The program is called, LeadHER Trucking and the facilitation will be done by Sarah Hilton, Program Director of the LeadHER Alliance, an organization formed to empower women in various professions, trades and community leaders. The LeadHER Alliance team is experienced in working with women in their female mentorship programs. Cynthia O’Neill, Founder, calls the process, “transformative.”
While the first set of mentors and mentees will begin the program now, there will be future groups of matches in the future. The goal is to obtain sponsors willing to fund the ten-month programs so more women can secure the advice and wisdom of the women who have greater experience as professional drivers.
The Women In Trucking Scholarship Foundation invited many of their new or recent driver training students to participate in the program. The truck driver training associations are also in support of this initiative and will encourage their students to become involved.
Shirley Gray, a driver who has been in the industry since 1991 and has experience as a company driver, owner operator and now a leased driver, has signed up as a mentor. Her goal is to “give back” to others and help them become successful drivers and potential future fleet owners!
Women in the industry are still a minority and the LeadHER Trucking Alliance will help us elevate their experiences as we attract them into transportation careers. Interested drivers who would like to participate as a mentor, or a mentee can find the information on our website (www.WomenInTrucking.org) under the resources tab and complete a short registration form to start the process. For more information about the program or to sponsor a session, please reach out to Debbie Sparks, Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.