Changing Workforce: The Case for Diversity in Canada’s Trucking Industry

Canada’s growing trucking sector is facing significant shortages in such key positions as drivers and mechanics, owing to turnover, ageing, and insufficient supply. To help meet the industry’s current and future labour needs, this report by Trucking HR Canada makes the business case for hiring workers from diverse communities, including women, visible minorities, new Canadians, youth, Indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities.

Based on past research and consultations with major trucking employers, the main finding of this report is that employers that fill job shortages by reaching out to a more diverse range of employees benefit not just from reduced vacancies, but also from lower turnover and absenteeism, as well as improvements in employee health, productivity, competitiveness and image, often because these employees bring a unique set of attributes to the workplace.

Specifically, the report identifies the following benefits of diverse and inclusive hiring practices for the Canadian trucking industry:

  • Higher retention and lower turnover: Many employers across all industries find that retention rates for employees with disabilities are better than for employees without disabilities. Women are often committed to staying in their communities over the long term, making them a loyal and stable workforce. Groups that might face barriers in other industries will be more likely to be loyal and committed and stay with their current employer.
  • Improved health and wellness: Ensuring that a workplace is welcoming to those from under-represented groups who typically face additional challenges and stresses will reduce stress and the associated risks to health and wellness for all Many Indigenous peoples place a high value on consensus and respect for others which can permeate the organization, creating an environment that supports health and wellness. A more diverse workforce can have a positive impact on empathy, engagement, morale and teambuilding.
  • Greater productivity and innovation: Many people who have faced barriers to employment are eager to work. Many employees with disabilities are used to navigating the world in different ways, which can make them adaptable problem-solvers. Indigenous truck drivers are often more familiar and experienced driving in desolate areas and Northern winter road conditions.
  • Increased market and competitiveness: Visible minorities can bring added-value skillsets, such as language skills, which could be useful attracting customers from diverse communities. A company can gain a competitive edge by showing that it helps to break down barriers thus making the industry more accessible to diverse customers, clients, suppliers and partner companies. Indigenous drivers working on traditional lands are likely to have insights into the local market and community context.
  • Improved employer branding and public image: The reputation of the industry overall can be improved by helping jobseekers see how the trucking industry increasingly reflects the new “face” of today’s society. Many Indigenous peoples are known to have particular respect for the land and knowledge of their natural environment which can assist employers in promoting environmentally sustainable practices and giving the industry a “green” image.

The report then describes best practices in the areas of recruitment and retention, health and productivity improvement and training that have led to real gains for the transporation companies consulted. Examples of best practices for three key diversity groups include:

  • Indigenous peoples: advertising jobs in community organizations, creating schedules and routes allowing employees to stay in touch with their communities; partnering with an Indigenous organization to fund a truck operator development program for Indigenous candidates.
  • People with disabilities: working with local disability organizations to help with hiring; being responsive to disability accommodation requests; providing sensitivity training to managers and recruiters on working with people with disabilities; attending particular awareness-raising events in the community.
  • Visible minorities: working with immigrant-serving organizations; having multilingual recruiters; investing in enhancing communication skills; having cultural awareness programs for staff; attending cultural events in the community.

The report concludes with links to useful resources and supports for recruiting and training workers, including visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities.

This report will be useful to employers in general, but particularly those in the trucking industry who are interested in learning about recruiting from diverse populations.