( ENSPIRE She Did That ) The Organization Helps Women Connect and Succeed in the Male-Dominated Industry
ENSPIRE Contributor: Abby Ladner
The trucking industry might be a male-dominated field, but, now, one group of women is working to change that. The world of logistics and transportation has attracted more women in recent years, and many companies are making an effort to create a more welcoming environment. However, there are still some issues faced by women in the industry, including a lack of upward mobility. A 2018 survey found that women make up only 14% of executive-level positions in the industry. Despite improvements, women still make up only 23% of the transportation and utilities workforce. That’s where the Leading Ladies of Logistix step in.
The Leading Ladies of Logistix is a Black- and woman-run organization that supports women in the logistics and transportation field. The organization, founded by Tristen Simmons (TS), Samantha Smith (SS), Tawana Randall (TR), and Vanessa Gant (VG), guides women to success with their mentorship program. Since its inception in 2017, the Leading Ladies of Logistix has mentored nearly 3,000 women and helped over 500 women start their own transportation business. In our interview below, the founders of Leading Ladies of Logistix talk about their career paths, making connections, and succeeding in a challenging industry.
How did you first get into the logistics and transportation industry?
TR: The funniest thing I tell people is the industry chose me at first. Earlier in my career, I noticed there were so many people I knew in the industry, so I was looking to learn more and create new opportunities for myself and my family. The best part about it was I began to see people that looked like me and women like me, and I just knew I had to master this. After trials and lessons, I’ve really grown, and I’ve continued to grow my business.
When did you decide to combine your experience and start mentoring others in the industry?
TS: Before I started LLOL in 2017, I felt alone, and I felt like there were no women in the industry that looked like me that could help me achieve the success I wanted in my business. I knew I had resources and opportunities, but what are those resources and opportunities if you don’t have anyone to share them with? In 2017, I knew I wanted to create a safe space for women to share the same frustrations, challenges, and resources in one space, and that’s what I did. I then later asked Samantha to be the co-founder to help propel the mission of connecting women together.
What particular challenges are faced by women in the industry, and how do you work to combat those?
VG: The biggest challenges are income gaps and the lack of leadership roles, which are the top disparities that women face in the transportation industry. Women are faced with the tough task of breaking the leadership and management barriers in the industry that has been male-driven for many years. No more hiding behind the desk and completing mainly administrative duties. We are speaking up, networking more, and increasing our knowledge base, no longer afraid of being in charge of the entire operations division of a transportation company and being successful at it.
A large part of your mentorship program is helping women in the industry connect with one another—why do you think that connection is so important?
TS: As Black women, we are stereotyped that we can’t get along and that we are angry, and that’s just not true. Black women are brilliant, we are creators, we are nurturers, and we will think and work for hours to make things work, but it’s much more powerful if we just come together and do it together. The best part of the mentorship program is teaching other women not to make the same mistakes as you and being a preventative method as well as a solution for other women in this industry.
You each have other businesses besides Leading Ladies of Logistix. How do you balance your mentorship work with your own individual careers?
TR: Life is all about balance. We all have families, other businesses, and the work we do in the community. But we also made a commitment to help women and to make a difference in this industry. It’s about planning and time management; we dedicate days where we have our monthly meetings, respond to posts, and have calls. It takes a team, and we have a team of mentors that assist us to make this work as well. Our commitment and time are important to the organization as well as our commitment to our families. It gets rough, but we have work to do, so we work it out and get it done.
Do you have any advice for women wanting to get their start in logistics and transportation? Or for anyone trying to succeed in an industry where they’re not the majority?
SS: I would advise women to look at the different opportunities in the transportation industry that they can learn and conquer. Even though it is a male-dominated industry, don’t be intimated. A woman who wants to make it in this field is just as capable of doing this as a male counterpart. And, with all the opportunities in this industry and millions of jobs out there in logistics, it’s certainly an area where there is room for advancement. I would also recommend to attend conferences and join associations so you can network with people in the industry and ask every question you can if the opportunity presents itself. If you can figure out the “why” and the “how,” not only will you learn more about the overall logistics process, you’ll understand how you can use it to prevent problems or how your services can be a solution to your customer. Last but not least, never assume, and always confirm the details to prevent any confusion.
The Leading Ladies of Logistix are shaking up the logistics and transportation industry. To learn more about the Leading Ladies of Logistix, visit their website here. Keep up with them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.