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Podcast

Why More Women Are Choosing Heavy-Duty

Discussing the role of diversity, and the shift to more women choosing to go into the heavy-duty industry.

Episode 296: At The Heavy Duty Parts Report, we believe that diversity is something every business should embrace, but we are not so naive as to think that it isn’t a complicated endeavor with inherent challenges that should be openly discussed to achieve the best possible outcome which in our opinion is measured by human flourishing. 

In this candid conversation with Alexandria Uribe, Senior Director of Total Talent Management at WM, and our Podcast Director Diana Cudmore, we shine the spotlight on women in frontline roles. We discuss how technology and the pursuit of productivity have enabled more people to join our industry. Join our discussion on the economic advantages of a diverse workforce in the heavy-duty industry.

Finally, we navigate the complex terrains of diversity, equity, and inclusion, offering balanced perspectives on these sensitive issues. Don’t miss out on the chance to learn how DEI initiatives can be a common-sense way to improve your business.

Discussing the role of diversity, and the shift to more women choosing to go into the heavy-duty industry.

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Transcript of Episode

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.

Welcome to another episode. Today we are going to talk about a subject that I think is very important. We’re going to have to be very careful how we talk about it so that we don’t get the moderators on certain platforms upset with us, but we’re going to try our very best to provide, I would say, some balanced views on women in trucking, women in our industry, and I’m really looking forward to this conversation.

So Women in Trucking is an association, and according to their website is dedicated to bringing gender diversity to trucking. And they have an annual expo called the Accelerate Conference and Expo. It is hosted by Women in Trucking, and it was back on November 5th – 8th, 2023. None other than our podcast director, Diana Cudmore went and attended the show and we’ve got lots to talk about, and we’ve also got some great clips from the show floor.

So this is a discussion that needs to happen. It’s one that I think is important for our industry. I think we are at the crossroads of some sweeping changes in things like demographics. And our industry just historically needs to do a better job of attracting more people, and I use that word very specifically, more people.

We need to attract the right kinds of people to the industry, people who can add something, who can bring their talent and their ability to this industry. It is something we have to do a better job on if we’re going to continue to flourish. And as most of you know, I am a big proponent of human flourishing. I think this is the measurement that we need to take when we are making these big decisions that affect huge groups of people, that affect policy, that affect the way as industry we go about doing things right?

So human flourishing is the measurement that needs to be taken, and that helps us to stay away from making decisions purely on the basis of political or other ideological basis. And I think that’s how we stay common sense, right? It’s not rarely common practice, but here at The Heavy Duty Parts Report, we’re going to champion common sense. So this is a great opportunity for us to talk about one facet of this much larger issue. Diana, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Diana Cudmore:

Hi

Jamie Irvine:

For those of you that are listening who maybe aren’t familiar with Diana, Diana is a individual who has been with our organization from nearly the beginning. She’s not employee number one, but she’s pretty close, employee number two.

Diana, you’ve been with us now over three years, and just for those who are listening, tell us just a little bit about your journey. What position did you have when I hired you, and what position do you currently have now?

Diana Cudmore:

Yeah, so when we first met Jamie, you had put out a job request for a graphic designer. I believe it was for like eight hours a week. So we quickly surpassed that, and I’ve been involved in the marketing of the podcast, in the production of podcasts and social media, and now I am the Podcast Director.

And so everything that comes out of the podcast has to go through me first.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, so for those of you listening who might be curious, what criteria did I use when I was looking to hire Diana? Did I go into the job place and say, I’m going to balance out my staff and meet a quota.

I have already hired one man, now it’s time to hire a woman to balance things out. Is that what I did? That’s not what I did. So for me, my perspective on this is I don’t look at things like gender, race, religion. I really don’t care about any of those things. What I’m looking for is competency.

I’m looking for people who the best person for the job. Now that being said, I do think that having a diverse group of people working for you is a very good thing. It’s very smart, and we’re going to go into why that’s so smart in a little bit.

So I hired Diana on the basis of, one, she had excellent educational background. She’s on her way to getting her master’s in marketing. Two, she was someone who, her work in itself was one of a quality that I felt was going to do a really good job for us. And the third thing was that she had family in the trucking business.

So I actually was looking at her versus another candidate, and basically they were equal when it comes to skill and ability. But when it came to that one component of knowing the trucking industry that put Diana over the top, it was almost like only then did I realize, oh, and she’s a woman. Because it was not relevant to my decision-making process.

Now that is the way I’ve always approached my businesses, Diana. I had a contracting business. We had many different people from all over the world, different genders. None of that mattered. We were looking for the best people. It’s probably fair to say not all employers approach it that way, especially when we look at historically.

I think we’re going to have an opportunity to talk about that a little bit later. But before we get into the nitty gritty details, I’ll just tell you this. You and I have talked about this a lot. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a subject that is filled with minefields.

Not that there isn’t great things about it and awesome opportunities, but there’s also some challenges and some things we have to watch out for. But before we get into that, I first wanted to get your first impressions of the show because was this your first time attending?

Diana Cudmore:

Yes, it was my first time attending the Accelerate Conference. I was really looking forward to going, first of all to go to Dallas. I actually never been to Texas before, believe it or not.

Jamie Irvine:

So first time to Texas, first time to the show. So as you were getting ready to go, I know you were excited, you were pumped. What was your general expectations of the show?

Diana Cudmore:

Every trade show that I’ve been to so far has been heavily weighted towards there being more men present, and I was really looking forward to getting a bunch of women who are all passionate about this industry together.

And it was just so much fun, like the energy of all of us coming together saying, we are women and we love big trucks and shiny things and things that go fast. It was awesome.

Jamie Irvine:

So that was your expectation, once you got there did it meet your expectations? Did it exceed your expectations? What was it like?

Diana Cudmore:

It blew me away. The quality of the breakout sessions that we had were amazing. A lot of them were focused on professional development as well as personal development, which was something that was different from any other trade show that I’ve been to. But it was so needed.

Things like how to sell in your company as a woman and how to have self-confidence in that. That was an excellent session. I really enjoyed that. There was so much room to have fun. There was a Las Vegas themed night where people could do mock gambling. There was roulette, there was blackjack, and there was dancing, and there was a DJ.

It was so much fun. It really blew me away. And really the pinnacle of the conference for me was hearing from the Director of Women in Trucking talking about their women in trucking index survey, where it showed that more women than ever are in this industry and that more women are in middle management and leadership positions than ever in history. So that was an excellent way to top off the conference.

Jamie Irvine:

So that’s something worth celebrating, right? Let’s celebrate that. Diana, it’s interesting you talk about some of the things you got to enjoy at that trade show, and you talked about how much fun you had. Let’s face it, we as guys, we have a heck of a lot of fun, probably different kinds of fun, but we have a lot of fun at trade shows. I’ve been to trade shows where they’ve done the Vegas night.

That is a blast, and I’m glad you got to experience that, but there definitely are some differences in what you experience at that show to what I normally experience when I go to a trade show that has more men. One, I can honestly say I don’t ever remember dancing breaking out at any of the trade shows I’ve been at with a bunch of guys in trucking and two, you said something really interesting to me.

You said that in a lot of these sessions there was actually tearful expressions from people. There was the whole audience, the speaker, everybody kind of breaking into tears. Is that true?

Diana Cudmore:

Absolutely. I mean, I don’t think there was a single session where we weren’t all in tears.

Jamie Irvine:

So that is something that is 100% different than the man’s experience because God help one of us if we actually did shed a tear and be like, oh, we’re in Texas. There must’ve been some dust in my eye. So I just find it interesting because men and women, even from a scientific point of view, men and women are like 85% the same.

But then on the margins, on the outsides of the differences, that’s where you really see different behavior. And I think that plays into the importance of creating a work environment that is a place where both men and women who are mostly the same but have some very distinct differences, can come to work and have success and can flourish and do well, and God help us, we need that. We need that in the industry.

So I want to talk about some of the conversations that you had, and in particular, we’re going to focus in on one interview that you conducted in today’s episode, Diana. So first of all, let’s talk a little bit about the conversations that you had in general terms. You had some pretty great conversations, correct?

Diana Cudmore:

Absolutely. I got a lot of great perspectives from multiple women and even some men on how women in the trucking industry are very much needed and how we can help make this industry more accessible to women.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break, and after the break, we’re going to hear from one of those people that you interviewed, because I think that that particular interview kind of showcases and frames all of the issues.

I think you did a fantastic job with the interviews that you did conduct, but that one in particular I think is worth us really taking some time to go over. So let’s take a quick break. When we get back, we’ll get into that interview. We’ll be right back.

Commercial Break:

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Jamie Irvine:

We’re back from the break. Okay, Diana, before the break, we talked about the expo that you went to that was put on by Women in Trucking, the Accelerate Conference and Expo. It was held November 5th-8th, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. It was your first time at the show.

Thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences, and I know how excited you were to be at the show. But while you were there, you did get a chance to talk to a lot of different people. One of those interviews that you did, first of all, let’s set up who was it that you interviewed.

Diana Cudmore:

I got to speak with Alexandria. She was so open and so bubbly, and she was just awesome to interview.

Alexandria :

So my name is Alexandria Uribe, and I work for WM, formerly Waste Management, for those of you who are getting used to our new branding. And I am the Senior Director of Total Talent Management. So that’s just a fancy way to say talent acquisition, talent management, and employee experience.

Jamie Irvine:

So Diana, in this interview, one of the things that Alexandria said that really jumped out at me and really resonated with me personally was something about the historical experience that her company has had. So let’s listen to that clip and then we’ll talk about it.

Alexandria :

Up until probably about maybe five years ago, you would typically see it’s men, the folks who would naturally be drawn to the driver position. We have a lot of technicians as well in our organization, and it’s just a more popular job opportunity for men in general across the enterprise.

Now, I will say that is for more of our frontline roles. If you look at our corporate spread, definitely have much more of a diverse population even throughout our historical time period. But even there, we did need and have been very deliberately trying to infuse diversity in general into our pipeline of leadership positions and even at the individual contributor level in the corporate space.

Jamie Irvine:

So Diana, I’ve been in this business a long time, and I can tell you something, when I was younger, when I was a kid, I don’t remember a lot of women kind of sitting around the table talking to each other and saying, you know what’s wrong with the world?

My dream of becoming a sanitation worker or bricklayer or rebar or being in combat in the military, or I don’t ever remember women sitting around talking about those specific vocations and really feeling like people were blocking them from fulfilling their dreams.

But then when you fast forward to when I started in the industry, it was in the early, sorry, the late nineties, I was in a manufacturing environment and we actually had a lot of women on the plant floor remanufacturing right along with the men.

So maybe my experience was a little different, and you and I have talked about this, and it is possible that my experience was a little different than a lot of people because I’ve always worked for companies where there were women working for the company.

But I do remember in the late nineties, the fact that we had so many women on the plant floor was unique. Most of the companies in heavy-duty at that time, if there were women, they worked in administrative roles in the office.

And I think that’s what she’s kind of alluding to here, where she’s saying, look, historically speaking, their corporate offices had more women in them and the frontline workers and sanitation and things didn’t.

Why do you think, as someone who represents a younger generation and the women’s perspective, why do you think in the last five years, Waste Management or WM has noticed this shift?

Diana Cudmore:

So I think a big reason is the integration of technology into these frontline jobs. If you’ve noticed, maybe your trash truck in your neighborhood has changed from usually having two men holding onto the back. Now there’s a mechanical claw arm that grabs your trash can and flings it back into the trash truck.

And I understand that there may have been reasons for WM or for your local trash company to start doing this. Maybe it’s efficiency, maybe it is the amount of time each stop takes, but that advancement has had the happy consequence of allowing more women into this frontline position because they don’t have to lift heavy things, which may have been out of their abilities previously.

But in the last five years, that really has opened up this job that was traditionally more geared towards men. Now, anyone can be a trash truck driver.

Jamie Irvine:

And that probably is a big part of it. I also think that there’s just a generation of kids now that are just looking at everything from a different perspective. One of the things that I don’t think we fully have understood yet is the full impact of Web 2.0 on children.

You go back 20 years and there’s a whole generation, your generation, Diana, grew up with technology and cell phones and smartphones and the internet, and it was abundantly available for everybody, and it changed the way your generation looked at careers and how to be an entrepreneur and what success actually looks like.

So I also think that while technology has made the equipment perhaps, or the physical demands of the job, something that a wider group of people would be interested in doing, I think that’s only part of it. I think there’s also just this different way of looking at work, and all of a sudden I think you’ve got a lot more women going, I can do that job and actually having interest in it, which I think is important that we have to really try to somehow harness that interest.

So let’s talk about what Alexandria had to say about the best way that they have found to attract more women to the industry.

Alexandria :

We have women already in the roles in the company, and they are our best advocates to bring more women to us. So we’ve started intentionally looking to our women who’ve been here with the company in whatever capacity, whether it’s a corporate capacity or it’s a frontline position, and using them as our campaign to drive more women to WM so that it’s in their words, their voice, their experiences.

We’re not needing to go get actors and put together pretty scripts or folks. We want them to tell their stories about what their experience has been so that they can attract folks that look like them to our company.

Jamie Irvine:

So Diana, this is something that you’ve expressed a real interest in, is becoming an advocate for others to attract others to the industry. How did you feel when you were talking to Alexandria and she brought up this point about women being advocates for attracting others to the industry?

Diana Cudmore:

I think that she had the perfect strategy for how women can help more women coming into their companies after them, just by existing in your position, and by being a woman in this position, you show other women, maybe even your daughters and granddaughters, that this position, this company that you’re in is for them and it’s for everyone.

Just being in that position is an active advocacy for other women.

Jamie Irvine:

I don’t like that.

Diana Cudmore:

You don’t like that? Okay.

Jamie Irvine:

No, I don’t like that at all. Just existing in the job is enough. I disagree with that wholeheartedly.

Diana Cudmore:

Alright, go ahead.

Jamie Irvine:

I think succeeding in the job, if you just exist in the job and it’s a horrible experience and you hate your job. So for me, again, I think we need to look at human flourishing. We need to look at what is the definition of a human being flourishing and what impact does that have on others?

I agree structurally with what you said, it’s just that one word of existing in the job, one thing is not enough. So to me, if I want to see people succeed, their success inspires me. So we don’t need women just to come in and fill a spot. We need talented human beings who have something to offer the industry to come in and provide their perspective and to do their job at a high level and to have lots of success.

To me, that sets us up for second, third, maybe even fourth generation of people who they’re connected to looking at our industry and going, that could be me. That could be me. So what you think about that, you see where I’m coming from?

Diana Cudmore:

I absolutely see where you’re coming from. I agree that existing was maybe not the best choice of words, but I also think that being successful in a position looks different than maybe it traditionally has. I think that maybe if you go back to the fifties or sixties, being successful in your job means doing what you’re told and bringing home money.

And of course, that’s completely different depending on what job you’re in. But I would say that generally if you are going to work every day and bringing home money for your family, you’re succeeding. For me, in this position as a young person, as a woman, my way of being successful is by having new ideas and bringing those ideas into existence.

That’s what drives me. It’s not necessarily the money. It’s not necessarily being known by all of our podcast audience as an amazing podcast person.

It’s by taking something that’s an idea and bringing it into existence. And that specific act that is success to me, then opens up the door of what success could look like to other people. Maybe success to someone else means, oh, I attracted a woman into my company and that’s what I’ve been planning to do this whole time, and that’s successful.

Of course, we are business people. We need to support our business making profit, which I’m very happy to do, Jamie, and I really do think that having diverse people in your workplace also means having a diverse definition of success.

Jamie Irvine:

True. But at the end of the day, businesses have to be profitable, right? To your point, there’s still that need for profitability. So I disagree with nothing that you said, but we can’t ignore the economic realities of making a business successful. Alexandria actually spoke about that.

Alexandria :

First of all, we all know, I mean, every researcher who has studied this topic will tell you that a more diverse population leads to more productive results. And so, I mean, bottom line, if you think about what’s in it for WM, it’s a more productive, more lucrative bottom line, and that’s what we as an enterprise to stay afloat. That’s what we look at.

Jamie Irvine:

So Diana, as you can see from Alexandria’s comments there, there’s this balance that gets struck between widening out into who you have in your company and then also the direct impact that can have on results. We’ve talked about this before off air, but roughly speaking, every million people, I think the number is there’s about 2000 geniuses for every million people.

You’ll have to fact check that. But I believe that that is an accurate quote. That is really important to me because to me, that’s why we need diversity because look at what Oprah Winfrey or Steve Jobs, or just pick a handful of people who have done incredible things, and maybe there was a genius behind them.

Maybe the real genius wasn’t Steve Jobs, it was Steve Wozniak, and maybe there’s someone in Oprah, Oprah’s the face of it, but there’s someone who’s working with her.

I don’t know who the genius behind all of that is, but I guarantee you there’s somebody pretty smart who came up with some amazing idea, and then a team of people went to work on bringing that idea forward and it changed the world, right?

Arlene Dickinson is an entrepreneur from Canada and probably not well known to the American audiences that we have, but she is a phenomenal human being. I am such a fan of hers and the things that she’s accomplished in her career, truly incredible. If we don’t diversify, we don’t get even a chance at getting those people into our industry and other industries do, and then they win.

And so since we’re in a situation where we already have a shortage of people and we need more people, to me, if you can improve profits and if you can attract people who help you do that faster, where is there something bad in this idea? Right?

Diana Cudmore:

Absolutely. I think that the word diversity or DEI can be a triggering off putting word to some people because it has been politicized. But I think what you’re saying, Jamie, is that it doesn’t have to be. Human flourishing can be for everyone.

And if one person calls that human flourishing and another person calls that diversity, that’s the beautiful thing that both of these ideas are generally the same thing in that when you have more people involved, when you have the best people, whether they’re whatever race, whatever gender, whatever background they are, when you bring those people together, amazing things happen and that supports business initiatives.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. One of the things Alexandria said, I think is an important point, I’ve said this for years, is that if you’re going to get more people in the industry, you’ve got to reach the families. Let’s hear what Alexandria had to say about how WM is doing that specifically.

Alexandria :

We go beyond, we’ve got benefits that are intentionally trying to build roots into the families of our employees. So as an example, we have something called your Tomorrow Benefit, which is an education benefit that is not just for the employee, and you’ve heard of tuition reimbursement or tuition support, but this is for your dependence as well, right?

Because we’re not interested in just having you for your timeframe at WM. We want to extend into the generations to come because we know that with more diversity comes, a better product comes a better services.

And that as an enterprise, when you look to the left and right of you in our actual demographics in our country, I mean, diversity no longer is an option. It’s an absolute must have to stay vital and relevant. And so we want to be an employer of choice in that space.

Jamie Irvine:

So I mean, Diana, this is something that we’ve talked about in the past. There’s very few families where people are sitting there around the dinner table and they’re looking at their children and they’re saying, God, I just hope you become a heavy-duty technician. I hope you become a parts person.

I hope you become a sanitation worker. That’s not been the experience of children for the last 40 years, and it shows in our industry, generally speaking, it shows in our industry and we need to change that.

So I like what she had to say about this of making it an initiative of the company to help the family members of their employees see the success they’re having and saying, I could have that too. That’s smart to me.

Diana Cudmore:

Absolutely. And not only is it great for the people who are working for WM, it’s also guaranteeing WM’s success into the future. They are educating the future workforce, which they can then harness for their own business purposes and for the flourishing of everyone.

And so I think that that’s a really smart business move. Even though as Alexandria said, these initiatives do cost money. They are a long-term investment into the company’s future and into the future of humanity.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, I just want to say, Diana, thank you so much for covering this show. Thank you for bringing back a great interview with Alexandria. I know you had conversations with others that we’re going to feature at other times on the show, and I think it’s fair to say that Diana’s returning next year to their show?

Diana Cudmore:

I am.

Jamie Irvine:

there’s more to the conversation and there are some pitfalls and some challenges with DEI that we want to talk about specifically. So Diana, let’s listen to what Alexandria had to say about the best ways to improve work conditions and attract more women.

Alexandria :

So they need to be listening to their women. So I know that sounds simple, but it’s actually very impactful because one thing is coming up with ideas that you think are going to drive women to you. The other is taking a moment to really actively listen to your female population and find out what are some low hanging fruit opportunities, because there always are, and what are the things that you need to build a strategy around?

And so some of the low hanging fruit opportunities, as an example, is an employee resource group for women. Create a place of community and belonging at the workplace where women can spend time together and advocates of women too. It’s not just women. Bring in those male advocates and create a space where talking about driving diversity in the workplace is a commonplace discussion, and it’s something that isn’t happening.

I always say it’s not the cherry on top of the sundae, it’s in all the ingredients of the sundae too. So that’s an example of a low hanging fruit. You can, if you were to go ask your company right now, some of the women in your company who wants to start an ERG, you’d see hands fly up all over the place because it drives belonging and community with the people you already have in your enterprise.

Jamie Irvine:

I get what she’s saying, Diana, but I think this is where we get into where we have to be careful how we approach things. So let me just put out my thoughts here. If a company has to go to great lengths to modify the work environment, to bring in a more diverse group of people, it’s possible that the work environment sucked and needed an overhaul.

And it’s probably not that the work environment needed to be changed specifically for a board diverse group. It’s probably that all the employees would appreciate some common sense changes, right? And this is where I think we have to be careful because you start a slippery slope.

So for example, there are certain things that women need that biological men don’t need on a regular basis, and things happen biologically that need to be addressed. Those things should be there to support that more diverse group.

But there are differences, and that’s okay. But what I have a concern about is where is the line and how far do you subdivide human beings? And you and I have talked about this before, how far does that go? And you could see where this could actually become crippling to a company if they allowed every request from every subgroup of human beings working for them.

It could get to a point where literally nothing could get done. So from your perspective, you’re a young woman in this industry, you’re advocating for these changes. Where’s the line? Where could diversity and making concessions for employees go too far?

Diana Cudmore:

I’m going to use a somewhat different argument that also involves diversity, not gender diversity, but disability diversity. So in the US, we have the ADA, which is an act, which is supposed to make workplaces more accessible to disabled people.

And when a company is considering making an accommodation for someone who is disabled, the exact terminology is a reasonable accommodation. Now, that term has been litigated to here and back.

And it turns out that reasonable is something, a cost that the business can absorb without dramatically affecting the profits. And this is something that I’ve looked deeply into in getting my bachelor’s and my MBA as well.

So that reasonable accommodation could be something like a specialized office chair that costs $2,000. Generally, if you’re an employer and you have more than 50 employees, you can absorb a $2,000 cost without greatly affecting profit. That is my litmus test for gender diversity as well. Something like having bathrooms that are accessible to women and that are private. We also have in the US.

Jamie Irvine:

Agree, except there’s another group of people who would violently disagree with that in some cases and say that bathroom should be available to everyone. Right? So that’s exactly what I mean. Everything you said a hundred percent, except the word reasonable, like you said, is subjective.

Diana Cudmore:

Yes, absolutely.

Jamie Irvine:

And then how we start to cut this start, we do this for this group, and then this group’s mad, and then we, well, okay, we’ll do something for you. And then they’re mad, and then another group is mad. So this is where, just from my perspective, I’m thinking, let’s do it. Let’s do it. But then all of a sudden I realized the realities of that, and it’s not so easy, is it? This is really complicated. Really fast.

Diana Cudmore:

It really is. So if we’re specifically talking about bathrooms, I look at how a lot of rest stops have started doing their bathrooms. They are individual stalls, completely enclosed with a door. So anyone can go in, have their own private bathroom that makes bathrooms more accessible to everyone.

Every one of those bathrooms is handicapped friendly. Every one of those bathrooms is private, and every one of those bathrooms can be used by everyone. So that to me is a solution that works for everyone. I hope nobody’s mad about that, right?

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. I think if we’re going to be honest, we just have to acknowledge that while this stuff, that’s why I say some people use buzzwords like diversity as like a virtue signal. And then you go just a degree under the surface.

And let’s face it for a large group of people, when they say diversity, they mean let’s make a fair opportunity for everyone. They’re not trying to control the outcome. They’re not trying to make it so that everybody has the same outcome. They’re just saying, give everybody the same opportunity.

Make it good for everybody. Human flourishing, right? But boy, does this get complex very quickly. I think there’s one more point that Alexandria made that we need to talk about, and that is how a company should approach this. She specifically said something that caught my attention. Let’s listen in.

Alexandria :

Ultimately, it starts at the top. You definitely want to make sure that you’re having those conversations and sometimes difficult conversations to say, hey, what does the data show us about our employee population? Are we happy with that? If we’re not, then let’s actually make an investment.

It takes money, and sometimes you have to plan in advance for this, like I said, but it starts at the top. You’ve got to build an investment to get something out of that. So I would just say it can’t be an afterthought. It’s got to be built into your corporate strategy and then filter its way down to your frontline population. Don’t let it stop just at the corporate. You’ve got to start finding ways to build that connection to your front line.

Jamie Irvine:

So I agree with her, these initiatives, and what’s funny about this is that whether we’re talking about diversity or we’re talking about transforming the business model over to a digital sales channel, it starts at the top. It starts with leadership.

So from your perspective, you’re just now in a management role in the first time in your career, I believe you have aspirations for future leadership positions. From your perspective, why do you think it’s so important that it starts at the top?

Diana Cudmore:

I’ll give an example, which I really appreciate, which is working for you, Jamie. You want to give everyone an equal chance. For me you gave me the chance to take on more hours, take on more responsibility, and after I prove myself, to literally take over the production of your entire podcast. So that wasn’t driven by any quota, by any virtue signaling by anything like that.

Jamie Irvine:

Or federally government mandates or something like that.

Diana Cudmore:

Right.

Jamie Irvine:

That was an extension of me operating in the free market and exercising my rights to build a company the way I saw fit and to try to achieve the best possible result.

Diana Cudmore:

Exactly. And I know for you, Jamie, one of the things that you said to me was that it’s important to you that men and women at the same position are paid equally in your company. That was something that was important to you and something that I really appreciated.

Jamie Irvine:

And it’s funny, it’s funny that you say that. I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as men and women need to be paid to same. I look at it like a human being doing this job and another human being doing the exact same job should be paid the same amount of money.

Diana Cudmore:

Exactly.

Jamie Irvine:

It translates. I get what you’re saying. It translates into you’re a woman in the company, there’s a man in the company. You guys are getting paid. You do the same job, you get paid the same amount. But it’s just so funny to me that people say that to me about me, and I’m not even thinking about it from that perspective.

I’m just like, well, of course, if you have the position marketing assistant, you’re going to get paid the same as if you have the position marketing assistant.

Diana Cudmore:

Right.

Jamie Irvine:

Exactly. Yeah.

Diana Cudmore:

But it’s funny, Jamie, because you’re not doing this on purpose, as you said.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s just, yeah, this is not part of a, I am not part of the radical left. This is not some result of me pushing an agenda that’s ideologically based. It has nothing to do with any of that. I just care about humans and want to see everybody do well.

Diana Cudmore:

And going back to the top of the episode, it’s common sense, right? People do the same job, they get the same pay. Of course, experience plays into that. Things get complicated quickly.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and outcomes, outcomes complicate this quickly too, because the reality is you can have two people who start at the same position regardless of their backgrounds, regardless of their gender. That’s irrelevant.

There are two people starting at the same spot, same starting spot, same experience, and one of them outperforms the other consistently. Guess what happens? That person gets promotion. That person makes more money. It’s a meritocracy, right? It’s like if you make a bigger contribution to the company, you’re going to get more opportunity.

That’s different, in my opinion, than, guess what? We’re going to hire this person. And because this, they’re that, we get to pay them less. To me, those are two different things. I don’t think everybody sees it that way though.

Diana Cudmore:

I don’t think they do either. I think that some people on some certain ideology think that there is some great plan at play that, oh, all the business leaders get together and they all decide to pay these people less or pay these people more.

Jamie Irvine:

Let’s figure out how to keep women out of the bricklaying business. I’m sorry. I don’t think there’s a cabal doing that.

Diana Cudmore:

Watch what words you use, Jamie. You’re going to get us censored.

Jamie Irvine:

I know. I know. I just got to be careful here.

Diana Cudmore:

You got to be careful, but I just don’t think that’s there. At least it’s not here today that I’m aware of. And I think that people who are running businesses who want to help the economy, who want to generate profit, who want to see human flourishing are using common sense, and I really hope that that’s true.

I know it’s true for our company, Jamie, and I know that it’s true for a lot of the companies in the heavy-duty industry. I think that it’s time that we put the D and I word out of the trigger warning. I think that now that we’ve explained it, now that we’ve shown what common sense people think about diversity, that it’s generally a good thing, but it’s not necessarily something that needs to be politicized or even idolized.

I think that it’s time that we can accept that diversity is a good thing and that it’s common sense to open up your job positions to the people who fit them best.

Jamie Irvine:

And on that, we agree a hundred percent. And I thank you so much for your efforts on this episode. This was an important one. The heavy-duty parts industry needs people.

We need good people, quality people, people who are smart, people who have new ideas, and people who are going to come here and work hard and care about the industry as much as we do. So let’s get there, working together, and let’s continue as an industry, both in the trucking and the heavy-duty parts side.

Let’s continue to use common sense and move forward as a group, and please continue to make human flourishing the centerpiece of the decision-making process when looking at anything that you’re doing with your company and anything that you’re advocating for in your country.

My name is Jamie Irvine. I’m the host of The Heavy Duty Parts Report. My guest today has been our podcast director, Diana Cudmore, and Alexandria from formerly Waste Management, now known just as WM.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. If you want to follow the show, don’t forget, head over to heavydutypartsreport.com. Follow the show for free. You can also get it wherever you get your podcast or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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