Ending the old boys club

Talking Turkey About Trucking

The trucking industry needs to get with the program and bring in fresh and diverse new blood in order to head into the future. The nature of the trucking industry is changing and society around the industry is also changing, fast.

Adapt or die, should be the motto. It is not enough to carry on doing things the way we have always done them. That will not cut it anymore. A major change in the industry’s culture is needed, and those who get on board first will succeed first.

If we need evidence about the need to change our culture and practices, we only have to look at the people lining up to become part of our wonderful industry. It’s not a very long line and many of the type of people we need, to take the trucking industry forward, would prefer to work anywhere but in road transport.

The Australian Logistics Council took the first baby steps in this direction this week by announcing a policy where it will concentrate on ‘people’. Isn’t this what the industry should be about anyway? When I talk to successful operators, one of the things they all say is how their success is based on the people within the business making it work.

So many are obsessed with procedures and processes, equipment and infrastructure. We loose sight of getting a culture and a feeling of an inclusiveness within the team. Get this right and safety and productivity will follow.

The ALC’s first step is to organise the first ‘Women in Logistics’ Summit in Melbourne on November 25 to discuss and map a series of strategies ALC will adopt to encourage and retain more women in the logistics industry. This follows the Finding the Balance Conference organised by Transport Women Australia, held in Melbourne last month.

Another small sign of improved inclusion is the appointment the ATA 2015 National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year, Julie Russell, as the Chair of its industry Skills and Workforce committee. She is an excellent example of the kind of people we need more of in the industry, a young woman with smart ideas and the motivation to bring on change. Our problem is, there aren’t enough Julie Russells out there to bring about culture change more broadly.

Our industry desperately needs to work out how to talk to the young people coming though and ensure their perception of our industry is different to what it is now. Trucking is, by and large, the preserve of older white males, many of whom expect to retire in the next few years.

Of course, we older white males have grown up in the industry and we are comfortable with the culture, to an extent. However, the next generation do not think like us and have vastly different expectations and aspirations to those held by the current crop of old timers, when they started out in the game.

Change is always hard, but the trucking industry has to accept there is a problem. There aren’t thousands desperate to get into our industry. Once we accept there is a problem, then we can go about finding a solution. Without a solution, the industry could decline.

Progress is all about embracing change. In this case, change is all about embracing new people, this includes women, the young and people from different cultures. It’s either diversity, or just die….