TIME TO CELEBRATE OUR COMMON GROUND
It has been a rough summer on the front of racism, diversity, and indifference. Remarks from President Trump on the situation of the Charlottesville riots that happened in August have set off a number of similar protests across North America. Often we talk about these issues being in the United States only, but the truth is that it is happening around the World. We are seeing issues in Canada with the burning of churches, attacks on Muslim institutions, and the general public of various races being the target of hate writings. We think we are progressing forward, but on the human side we seem to be going back in time. For those of you that remember 60’s and early 70’s you will understand what I mean.
I started trucking in the 80’s and at that time it was a predominately white male industry as many were farm kids that had been driving tractors and were now long haul truck drivers. There was racism back then and I have my own stories of being a coloured kid in school and even in my career in trucking. I have never been subject to the type of racism seen in Charlottesville, but racism comes in many forms. My experience has always been lighter with jokes on colour and scenarios thrown around that can be quickly diverted. Certainly nothing like what we are seeing in the news these days, but of course I was a Canadian born kid.
In the early 80’s the industry started changing with people coming in from other countries such as India, Asia, and the Caribbean and beginning to work in the transportation industry. Sure, back then there were inappropriate comments from many drivers and a strong resistance to the jobs they were seemingly taking from Canadian born children. We didn’t know these people.
The same thing has happened to women in the industry. Back in the 80’s there were very few women driving trucks. It was considered a man’s industry. Truck drivers were tough strong men driving big equipment. Those days were different, you had to be strong to drive back then as we had manual steering. Women can’t handle trucks they said! That’s a lie of course. I know women that not only out drive some of the men, but do a great job on all fronts and have a softer component that wasn’t necessarily seen in the past. There is now a huge push in the industry to get women involved and many groups such as The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, Women in Trucking, and Trucking for a Cure have all been at the forefront of helping and celebrating women in the industry.
Today trucking is a very different place. There are all races and genders involved in the industry and I am proud to call many of them my friends. I have experienced the professionalism of women in the industry on the road and at industry functions. I have many friends from India and South Asia that I consider top quality people and I am proud to be part of an industry that allows for diverse communities to work together in one industry.
What changed for me over the years from those early days in the 80’s when I started in the industry
Bruce Outridge Bruce Outridge drove transport trucks across North America for over 25 years. He now runs his own business as an entrepreneur and is a professional cartoonist, author, and consultant for the industry. You can learn about Bruce on his website at www. bruceoutridge.com and you can improve your career by listening to his podcast for the trucking industry at www.theleadpedalpodcast.com
to today is that I have had the chance to know these people. I do my best not to paint everyone with the same brush. We still have problems in the industry and I am sure we will in the future. Let’s not allow the comments and actions of some to ruin the progress we have made over the years in our industry. September is Driver Appreciation Month and a time to celebrate the people that keep products on our shelves. If you are Muslim, a Woman, Black, White, or from another Nation celebrate the good work you do. You are an important part of the logistics chain and we need to work hard to improve that and not break it down because of race, colour, or gender. Thank you drivers for all the hard work you do in keeping our lives filled with the important items we need to survive. No matter what your role in the transportation industry, what your gender, or race we are working towards a common goal with one common denominator, delivering freight in a safe timely manner. We are the transportation industry!