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THE LAST WORD The Road to Diversity

By Jeff Fleming Guest Writer

Recently I was

interviewed by Arkansas Business for an article entitled “Trucking Firms Work To Diversify Industry.” I talked about

how minority representation in the industry was lacking and we have a long way to go to close the gap. I am a believer that if you identify a problem, you should offer a solution. Let me share with you a few

thoughts on how we can attract and retain diverse talent in the trucking industry. First, the commitment to diver- sify the workforce must come from the people seated at the highest levels of the organizations. They must give the green light and be an active sponsor to build the roadmap to make this happen. The first step is the easiest. Utilize

your college recruiting efforts to identify potential candidates for internships and entry level management positions. This will allow you to diversify your workforce from the ground up. The next phase of your recruiting

efforts should focus on injecting experi- enced talent into middle management or director level positions. This phase may be a little more challenging. Just hiring diverse talent from other carriers is not going to add talent; it just moves it from one seat to another. We must find talent that has been successful in other indus- tries that may have transferable skills

that can be applied to trucking. Talent from other transportation industries like airlines or railroads may have experi- ence that can be applied to trucking. Candidates from other industries that have experience with leading cross-func- tional teams, operations management, and developing strategies and a proven track record of delivering results can add value in trucking. Attending conferences for professional organizations in logistics, supply chain and engineering are a great opportunities to engage talent. Finally, hire talent at the officer or

executive levels within your organiza- tion. Leveraging executive search firms for this level will help you find diverse candidates. Now, if you are thinking, you

haven’t read anything in this article that you aren’t already doing, that’s great. Diversity recruiting should be easy. By making minor tweaks to your current recruiting strategies, you should see a more diverse applicant pool. If you are doing college recruiting, add universities that cater to females and minorities to your list. You can also ask the universi- ties that you currently visit to make sure that the students that you interview are representative of the entire student popu- lation. If you are already attending confer-

ences, expand your list to include those that you know target minority attendees like those for traditionally African- American fraternities and sororities, National Hispanic MBA Association or Women in Engineering.

If you are already using executive

recruiting firms, make sure diverse can- didates are in the pool. Regardless of which level you are

hiring for, ensuring that you have female and minority candidates in your pool gives them the opportunity to compete. Once that happens, you will be surprised at just how quickly your road to a diverse workforce will actually get paved. Once the hiring decisions are made,

you must have a strategy to keep the tal- ent. If you are truly starting at ground zero, you may need to hire multiple can- didates at the same time to help them have a sense of community within your organization. These candidates will be looking for leaders within your organiza- tion that they feel that they relate with and aspire to be one day. Not having diversity in your leadership roles may be discouraging, and you will have to work harder to keep them. They have to see a possible career path that will be support- ed by sponsors, regular feedback, mentor- ing and developmental opportunities. So this road to diversity may seem

long. It will have its share of hills, curves, and even a few potholes. As you are trav- eling, the faces in your organization start to change. You will see new perspectives to solve problems, develop solutions and a positive impact to your bottom line. At the end of your journey, you should see that diversity is just good for business.

Jeff Fleming is the chairman of the ATA’s 40 Under 40 Council and the senior manager of regional transportation operations at Walmart Transporation.

Opinions expressed on this page may not reflect official policies or opinions of the Arkansas Trucking Association or the American Trucking Associations.


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