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A Woman’s (Automotive) Touch

By Max Aldington

I think it’s fair to say, whatever industry we work in, every woman has experienced sexism in their workplace. Whether it has been on purpose or accidental, actions or comments are made and as a result lead to causing offence. As a female in the “male dominant” automotive world, I have many examples of my own.

Have I had customers who have looked away and avoided engaging me with? Mmm-hmmm. Have I spoken with customers who were genuinely shocked at the knowledge I could provide on cars? Yep. Have I had customers that refuse to talk to me and insist on speaking with a male colleague instead? Sadly, yes... 

However, did I also have customers who felt more comfortable to deal with myself, as a female? YES!

The truth is, we have EVOLVED. I've grown up in a generation where women are hungry and want to be independent to provide for themselves – whether it’s to buy a treat, socialise on the weekends or get onto the property ladder. My LinkedIn homepage is filled with beautiful women working in retailers selling cars, stood next to vehicles and posting their incredible units/stats for the month… women entering or being promoted into more senior roles within automotive companies… women, such as SuperCarBlondie and Abigayle André, creating content and vlogging worldwide on all social media platforms – I see you ladies and I SALUTE you!

We seem to have more presence growing across Sales and Marketing roles (I’d like to think I’m part of this growth, recruiting candidates in these departments in the automotive sector!) but how can we spread further across departments like engineering and manufacturing?

Increasing automotive awareness through education at a secondary school and/or college level, encouraging apprenticeships and graduate schemes, alongside development plans for working professionals already in the automotive space to inspire the future generations.

With organisations like The Automotive 30% Club, there are MDs and CEOs out there actively creating a network with an aim to better the gender balance within the automotive industry by filling at least 30% of key leadership positions with diverse women by 2030. Their strategy starts with “reaching out” to attract women, to “welcome in” and remove bias opinions in recruitment stages, “pull through” to encourage promotions within and finally “hold on” to retain talented women.

Carwow have recently joined The Automotive 30% Club and have launched their own “Wow Women” to focus on diversity within the business, allowing women to share knowledge and advice to build an inclusive environment. The best part, is that this was formed by CEO James Hind… a male! Changes he has implemented include: anonymised CV screening, gender balanced hiring panels as well as shared maternity and partner leave allowing flexibility to return to work. With diversity and inclusion goals, he gains regular feedback through employee surveys to make sure everyone has the opportunity to raise their thoughts to continue to improve the business.

With #InternationalWomensDay this week and nominations for AutoCar’s “Great Women: Top 100” awards now open, let’s recognise and celebrate women leading the way across the UK automotive industry for now and the future!

Professor Jim Saker told AM Online the automotive sector needs to drive its “cultural competence” to deliver levels of diversity and inclusion which could help solve its skills crisis.

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