By Gino Fontana
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
There’s been a lot of talk lately about diversity, equity, and inclusion. It seems like many corporations are even appointing vice presidents to be in charge of their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. Perhaps it would help to start with a definition of diversity. Diversity is defined as the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, ages, etc.
While I think trucking has made some strides in trying to make the workforce more diverse, there is no doubt we have a ways to go. Just attend one of our many trade shows and you’ll see that the audience at most events is homogenous.
And I am not downplaying the contributions of people who are currently in the trucking industry because they have accomplished a great deal.
As the face of our nation is changing—according to the Census Bureau in 2020, 50% of U.S. children under the age of 18 were ethnic minorities—the trucking industry is going to have to change. We are going to have to understand what diversity and inclusion mean and adopt policies that foster those values.
Aside from the fact that the applicant pool will be changing, there are compelling reasons to diversify your workforce. When you bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences, you are likely to get more creative solutions to the problems you are trying to solve. The wider knowledge and experience base is likely to spark new, innovative ideas.
Studies have found that diverse teams make better decisions in part because they have a broader and deeper range of experiences to draw upon.
Inclusion is a key value of members of the younger generation. A survey by the jobs website Indeed found that 55% of job seekers indicated it was very or extremely important to work for a company that showed a commitment to diversity and inclusion. In today’s tight job market, you do not want to shrink the pool of people who would consider working for you by failing to have a diverse workforce.
Customers, too, are beginning to ask questions of potential vendors about what they are doing in terms of diversity and inclusion along with other social issues like commitment to the environment. Being able to enumerate the efforts you have made to bring a wider range of people into your organization can be a big plus when trying to win new business.
A good place to start with getting more hiring into your workforce is to review your recurring and hiring efforts. Make sure the words and images you use in your recruiting efforts and ads reflect your commitment to diversity. People want to be able to see themselves—or people like them—in a potential new workplace. Your recruiting materials can go far in making people feel like they belong.
To be clear, I am not suggesting you throw out your existing workers as they, too, are vital to your success. Just make sure that moving forward you look beyond your traditional sources to cast a wider net. You might be surprised at the quality applicants you’ll find when you do that.