Lana Batts moderates a fleet panel during this year's Truckload Carriers Association meeting.
"Lana R. Batts and trucking are joined at the axle."
So reads the opening sentence of a profile of Batts in DC Velocity, a magazine for distribution center managers and executives. The story, titled "Queen of the road: interview with Lana Batts," continues:
Reared in a Montana trucking family, Batts came east 40 years ago to take a job with the American Trucking Associations. She spent 20 years there, rising to the post of senior vice president for government affairs. Batts helped guide the industry through an unprecedented multiyear transition to deregulation, becoming the voice of the profession in the process. Her legacy at ATA remains unmatched despite her being gone since 1994.
She notes that when she started at ATA as a junior analyst, "I was the highest-paid female and the lowest-paid professional." When the energy crisis of 1973 hit a few weeks after she started, however, it became a high-profile job.
From there, she went on to head up the Truckload Carriers Association from 1994-2000. That's where she was when I met her in my early years in my career covering trucking. She was, and remains, one of my favorite people to interview, not only because she's a wealth of knowledge, but also because she speaks her mind in plain and sometimes colorful English.
Batts has served on the board of directors of a number of companies, for a number of years has been a partner in the merger/acquisition consulting group Transport Capital Partners, and today is co-president of Driver iQ, a Tulsa, Okla.-based company that conducts background screenings of drivers. The start-up is challenging the longtime giant in the industry, HireRight, formerly known as DAT.
Batts spoke recently with DC Velocity's Senior Editor Mark B. Solomon about her work and the industry's outlook, as the story notes, "peppering her comments with the sharp wit and candor that has long endeared her to the folks behind the wheel."
A few highlights:
Q: This has long been a male-dominated field. However, women have made inroads in recent years. Where has the most progress been made, and in what areas does progress have yet to be made?
A: Women who have made inroads have not been afraid to volunteer for tough jobs. But the surest way for women to make progress is to work in areas such as sales that have measurable goals. Too many women still find themselves in women-dominated fields, such as human resources, where there are not objective measurements. Unfortunately, until women move into operations with line positions, they will never make it into the front office.
Q: It is no secret that truckers face significant regulatory headwinds on various fronts. Does this reflect aggressive policies of this administration, or was this bound to happen regardless of who occupied the White House?
A: Most of trucking's issues are on the political agenda, regardless of the party in power. This means energy, environment, and safety. Many of the issues addressed by the Obama administration such as truck driver hours of service and CSA [the Compliance Safety and Accountability initiative for rating drivers] began under Republican administrations. But this administration always seems to "balance" the scales against business, and by extension, trucking. In essence, this administration likes employees, not employers.
Q: Pre-employment screening is a basic component of the hiring process. What has changed to make screening more difficult?
A: Pre-employment screening has changed because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have stepped up their regulation of background screening companies and perceived discrimination against ex-felons.
Read DC Velocity's full article here.
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