development. Why have companies deprioritized their talent development efforts in a discipline that has become so
relevant to their competitive standing?
A The supply chain discipline has yet to find a consistent place in general business structure. In some companies,
it is a subdiscipline of the purchasing or procurement function, where cost is paramount. In other firms, it is part of
operations, the final step to getting the company’s product
to market. Often, the supply chain is a problem child. It is
moved to a senior management oversight level to work out
kinks and bottlenecks that threaten strategic goals, yet once
the problems are addressed, the function is pushed down
to lower management levels to be maintained. Until the
supply chain function secures a stable role in the business
management structure, it will be difficult for companies to
prioritize talent acquisition or development for that skill.
Q Female truck drivers represent only 5 percent of the U.S. commercial driver population. Is this a demo-
graphic that companies are beginning to pay attention to?
If so, what needs to be done to attract and retain qualified
women as drivers?
A During the last recession, government data showed women made up half of the total work force. That
number fluctuates a bit, but we are closer to parity than
ever before. With the growing concern about the con-
sequences of a driver shortage on economic growth, the
trucking industry needs to figure out a way to tap that
segment of the talent pool. Groups like the Women in
Trucking Association are driving changes in the industry
that affect how women see career opportunities and, by
extension, help companies develop recruiting strategies
that target women. This includes working with vehicle
OEMs to make seating and driving controls better suited
for less burly physical specimens, to increase personal secu-
rity options while resting or sleeping in a truck cab, and to
build more automatic transmissions. It also encompasses
gender-neutral objectives such as creating a better work-life
balance and higher earning potential.
Q The same UT paper advised companies to hire “for the supply chain,” not the specific job, making the