How an Advocacy Association Works

Associations, such as the Women In Trucking Association, who want to affect changing long embedded policies and beliefs, at times have to go about the process the long way instead of charging in like the Marines taking a hill.  This is especially true of young associations like WIT who has had to both build membership and start off trying to live up to its mission statement.  Many people do not understand this process.

Let us break it down to some scenarios that all can understand.

  1. You move into a new house.  You have a neighbor whose tree hangs over your fence and drops ripe black walnuts in their hulls onto your yard, onto your concrete driveway and your car leaving nasty black stains everywhere.  You have two choices, you can either get a chain saw out and when the neighbor is away and cut the tree down (the sledgehammer effect) or you can go over, make friends with your  new neighbor and open a dialog with them about the problems with the tree (the tack hammer effect) finding an equitable solution.  Both would solve the problem.  Which one will allow you to remain friendly with your neighbor and bring resolution to both of you and effect the greater change in a positive manner, of course, the tack effect.
  2. Your community passes an ordinance that affects you adversely.  You have three options.  First is to go to the city council’s next meeting and address the issue (tack hammer).  Second is to decide to run for city council yourself so you can make sure that the council only passes ordinances that are for the benefit of the most people (again tack hammer).  Thirdly, you can take your gun out and go shoot at the city council members…definitely sledgehammer!  Yes, that one is radical, but you get my meaning.  Of course, unless you want to sell your house and/or move or go to jail, you would use either of the tack hammer solutions.
  3. Your child goes to a new school.  He has two choices to get the other kids to work with him and get to know him so he can work on projects with them, engage in sports, and make friends.  The problem is that your child is larger than most having moved repeatedly and having had to repeat some grades.  His two choices are he can be a bully (sledgehammer) and try to get weaker kids to follow him to do the things listed above or he can just be pleasant and work with others to achieve his goals (tack hammer).  Which would you rather he does?  Of course, the tack hammer approach.


Now you can see clearly the differences in using tack hammer approaches and sledgehammer approaches.  An advocacy association must use the appropriate approach, which is usually the tack hammer way of doing things.  Going into any situation where changes are needed with a sledgehammer will not work, instead it will only cause hate and discontent with the people (corporations, government) you are trying to get to change.

WIT is not a political activist association, it is an advocacy association, and the two are very different in the way they go about effecting change.  An activist association or organization uses a sledgehammer approach more than a tack hammer approach.  Ellen Voie, WIT’s CEO/President/Founder chose the type of association from the get go that she wanted WIT to be; that of an advocacy association who would assist in changing the way women are perceived in the trucking industry and try to get obstacles removed for women to be able to advance more easily.  To do this, she knew that she would have to associate the association and herself with the corporate world of trucking and get on a friendly basis with them to affect change where it needed to start.  As you can imagine, corporations do not change rapidly or respond positively to sledgehammer tactics; you can lead them, but you cannot push them.

In this, Ellen has been highly successful and WIT has attracted many corporate members who see value in associating with WIT because both they see the need for change and they support the mission statement.  Some of those corporate members have joined WIT to solve problems they face concerning women’s issues and need help and direction in solving those problems; again, Ellen has been highly effective in working with those companies.  Ellen came out with a white paper last year available to corporate members in conjunction with JJ Keller concerning solutions to training issues for both genders.

With Ellen’s involvement in trucking issues for the last 25 years or so, both as a trucker’s wife and in working within the industry itself, Ellen founded WIT with ideas and concepts in place that she wanted to work on.  The White Paper on training, a crisis line for truckers, the Salute to the Women Behind the Wheel event, recognition of women who have achieved milestones in their careers both as drivers and in the office, increased safety for all drivers at truck stops, doing away with discrimination and sexual harassment against women in trucking and many others; Ellen had a long laundry list of things she wants to achieve. 

Rome was not built in a day and the start that Ellen has begun with WIT in the last four years will take years to complete.  Ellen Voie is positive she will achieve completing that list of tasks and any others that may arise, and she will with all of our help and assistance; bring your tack hammers though, no sledgehammers allowed.








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