Ellen Voie: Spearheading a Change in the Transportation Industry

Ellen Voie_Leader of the Month

When the vision and the mission of an organization stems from the intention of helping others and brings about a change in society, there emerges something that is far beyond conventional. Something that was spearheaded by Ellen Voie and her team and resulted in the formation of Women In Trucking Association.

Women In Trucking is a non-profit organization created to bring more women into the trucking industry and to remove gender inequality. Over the years, the organization has bought about an unprecedented change in the transportation industry and has built a platform for women’s success.

However, much of what the group has attained and been able to achieve can be attributed to Ellen Voie. Her vision and unwavering commitment towards her goal have been the biggest ‘driving’ factor for WIT. Ably supported by her team, Ellen has been able to create a community that believes in her vision and goals.

Commitment to Integrity

According to Ellen, a great leader is one who leads by example. While at the same time, the leader must always be aware of what he or she is doing. For her, an effective leader is one who has integrity.

She asserts, “Living by self-imposed expectations sets an example for others to raise themselves to the same level.”

At the Women In Trucking Association, Ellen and her team ensure that everyone is aware of the association’s goals, missions, and activities.  This includes the staff, the board of directors, and the members.  The organization has an internal platform wherein all the documents are stored and updated for easy access. In addition to this, WIT makes sure to communicate with its members on a consistent basis.

“From our weekly e-newsletter to our print publication and through the use of social media, we stay connected to all stakeholders as well as potential affiliates,” she points out.

The Changing Landscape

Every large trucking company started with one man and one truck. However, now, more carriers are started by women. This is due to the awareness created by WIT over the need for greater gender diversity. She looks forward to the day when women are no longer seen as a minority.

Over the years, one of the most innovative things introduced by the organization has been how it has targeted its next generation. “Typically, parents don’t teach their children about the importance of the trucking industry, and every item they own was once on a truck.”

After learning that the Boy Scouts had a transportation patch and Girl Scouts did not, the team at WIT worked towards changing the disparity. The solution came in the form of a “Trucks are for Girls” transportation patch and the accompanying curriculum to earn the award.

They also created an activity book to explain how grain from the field is moved to the bakery on a truck. From there, it is hauled to the packaging facility and on to the distribution center on a truck. “Our goal is for every child to have a personal connection when they see a tractor-trailer on the road.”

Also, the introduction of “Clare,” a truck driver doll, was a big step as it enabled both boys as well as girls to imagine themselves in the role when they grow up.

Ellen Voie Quote for Exeleon magazine

Breaking the Shackles of Gender Bias

When WIT was formed, one of the biggest challenges faced by Ellen was the prevailing attitude that the industry already provided a level playing field for women and that hiring was done without regard to age, race, or gender. However, Ellen and her team made sure to showcase how women bring a different viewpoint at all levels. “From the cab of a truck to the C-Suite, women are more risk-averse, and this is reflected in the decision-making process. As drivers, women are safer, and in the board room, women more often weigh all options before determining the best path to follow.”

She stresses how difficult it was to motivate companies to accommodate women. They felt that women in a male-dominated environment should be the ones to adapt to the industry, instead of the other way around.

“It took a lot of time and a lot of data to create a culture of inclusion, and although we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go,” said a determined Ellen.

Today, as the President and CEO of Women In Trucking, Ellen Voie shoulders the responsibility for leading the direction and implementing the goals of the organization. However, as a non-profit group, the organization works closely with its board of directors who establish the vision and determine how to represent the 5,300+ members best.

Making the Industry Better

WIT spends considerable time and energy on being a valuable resource for the industry. The WIT Index is one such essential contribution that the organization provides for the industry. The index offers vital insights to track the percentage of women as drivers, managers, and other positions. Aside from this, WIT works with many groups to identify various gender-specific data in the trucking industry. Whether it be accident ratios to retention and turnover, the organization offers a statistically-backed understanding of what attracts women in the industry and what makes them leave.

Today, various trucking companies are seen turning toward WIT to understand better how to attract and retain women workers, for which the results have been amazing. “Instead of turning over the company to a son, a father is just as likely to hand the reins to his daughter. Our focus on highlighting the positive attributes women bring to the trucking industry is evident and rewarding.”

The organization is going through a transitional phase, wherein it’s bringing-in the successor of Ellen Voie. For years, Ellen has been the face and voice of WIT; however, there will be a shift in identity for the company in the coming years. Irrespective of that, one cannot ignore the pioneering role that Ellen has faced over the years as a leader and innovator.

Visit Website – https://www.womenintrucking.org

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