Suzano, a global reference in the manufacture of bioproducts developed from cultivated eucalyptus, and LOTS Group, an innovation and technology company independent of the Scania group that operates in the transportation sector, will train women drivers for the forestry transportation sector in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. With 15 spots available, the initiative called “Elas no Volante” (Girls Behind the Wheel) will be totally free to participants and has the support of SEST/SENAT (Social Transportation Service and the National Transportation Learning Service) from the city of Três Lagoas. The purpose of the course is to promote social inclusion, gender equality, and employment and income generation by increasing the number of qualified women in the transportation sector.
According to Rafael Azevedo, Forest Logistics Manager at Suzano, the initiative is in line with the company's long-term goals to promote gender equality across its operations. “Suzano is committed to social development in the regions where it operates, which is directly associated with promoting diversity and gender equality in our operations. Our goal is to provide the means for women and men to compete on an equal base in the labor market. And this is the objective of ‘Elas no Volante’: we want, in partnership with the LOTS Group, to provide professional qualification for women who wish to enter the sector. After all, it's only good for us if it's good for the world,” he points out.
Today, women account for only 0.5% of the total number of truck drivers operating in Brazil (approximately 2 million), according to a survey by the National Transportation Confederation (CNT). At LOTS Group, Suzano's partner, this indicator is 4.9%. The Swedish company's goal is to have at least 20% of women in its driver staff by 2025.
The person responsible for the “Elas no Volante” project, Geane Giglioti, HR coordinator at the LOTS Group, explains that this project, a pioneer in the Três Lagoas (MS) region, was born out of the need to train female truck drivers. “This initiative was created by the need for gender equality within the logistics operation and the difficulty we face in trying to attract new female drivers. We also aim to achieve social inclusion and job creation,” explains Geane.
It is expected that this qualification will help reduce the bias that still exists toward the profession. Marcela Costa Coimbra Lopes is one of the women who have collaborated to break the notion that trucks are for men only. At the age of 38, she is one of the drivers of Suzano's hexatrain, the largest truck in Brazil, and one of the largest in the world in the wood transportation sector. Marcela has already worked in other areas as a salesperson, production assistant, but it was in her career as a driver that she found her professional calling. “Trucks are gender neutral. Today, anyone can drive a truck. With so much technology, they can virtually talk. So, there is no reason why women cannot participate. And now, companies are training women. That's very important,” she adds. She's the pride of her father—she is the youngest and the only daughter to follow in his footsteps, who works as a bus driver in Rio de Janeiro—and of her friends.
“People who drive trucks are always expecting to get a bigger one. Today I drive an hexatrain! So, it is a source of great satisfaction. And it’s a mistake to think that a referral is needed or that companies don't hire women. I applied online myself, sent my resume through Suzano's website and, shortly afterwards, I was called. I was so happy. If you have the confidence and are qualified, the opportunities will come,” says Marcela.
Angélica Rodrigues de Oliveira Fernandes, Forestry driver at LOTS Group, one of the most experienced of the team, shares some details of what it's like to work in the logistics operations. “I've been a trucker since 2014. I've always enjoyed driving. Even with extensive experience in this line of work that I do at LOTS, I spent 15 days in training before starting at the operation. Here, we pay close attention to safety procedures, it is a very strong culture,” says Angélica. About the day-to-day work she adds. “I like to work at nights and I have the help of three colleagues who joined with me. They are my friends... we are four female truckers in the countryside, I love the work and so do my colleagues. I hope that many, many more women come to work with us."
The “Elas no Volante” initiative also addresses the Sustainable Development Goal #5, of the United Nations: Gender Equality. “This action is in line with the strategy of Suzano's Procurement area to involve supplier companies in promoting equality in the workplace, which will be intensified throughout 2021. And, in order to achieve the gender equality that we believe is possible and that is included in the company's long-term goals, we are bringing Suzano's suppliers, such as LOTS, into this movement,” says Carolina Araujo, Procurement Coordinator at Suzano.
In 2020, Suzano's Procurement Intelligence area approved the Responsible Supplier Management (RSM) Program, which will be implemented in up to four years. The expectation is that the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) topic will be considered a decisive factor in the company’s supplier evaluation and selection matrix. “This means that, in the case of suppliers on equal terms, the one who is best positioned in terms of social, environmental, and governance aspects will be preferred by the organization,” she explains.
Women interested in participating in the training course must have an E-category (Professional) Driver's License, be over 21 years old, be able to read and write, reside in Três Lagoas and region (proof of residence needed), have availability of time, and be interested in entering the forestry transportation sector. Registration, as well as the course, are free of charge and must be made in person at the SEST/SENAT unit, at Avenida Júlio Ferreira Xavier, 2640 - Jardim Alvorada, Três Lagoas (MS), from July 19 to 23.
The Training Program for Female Drivers is scheduled to start on July 27. The course is broken down into three phases: theory, simulator, and practical lessons.
More information can be obtained through firstname.lastname@example.org.
About LOTS Group
Created in 2016 in Sweden, LOTS Group, an independent company from the Scania group, was born with the mission of optimizing logistics flow operations using technology and innovation. One of its main goals is to prepare customers today for tomorrow's autonomous, electrical, and digital future. Present in Latin America since 2018, LOTS Group has introduced new software solutions to better analyze flows, find bottlenecks, and improve deviations. Focused on three sectors—agribusiness, mining, and forestry—the company works to improve the quality of deliveries with a focus on innovation.