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Does the Motor Trade need more of a Woman's touch?

By Kieran Rudrum on the 02 May 2017 in Automotive News

Last year, Gaia Innovation CEO and automotive management veteran, Julia Muir, launched a campaign with a number of nationwide dealership groups with the aim of making getting talented women into 30% of management positions within the motor trade by 2030. In the 21st century, this figure would seem if anything conservative, after all, the gender of people, like race or sexuality, should have no basis on ability to lead or not.

Too add to this, In 2016, 60% of all new car buyers, were women, but, as anybody who has gone into a dealership would tell you, the motor industry is still dominated by men. 96% of these women wanted to see more women in dealerships, with 31% citing that the overly masculine environment made them feel uncomfortable. There is also the very fair suggestion that men and women should be paid the same wage for doing the same job. In the end the government have recently brought in a law forcing companies to publish their gender pay gap including bonuses, from which men are getting an average of £1,000 more per year than women.

Unfortunately one of the realities of the motor trade is that there is still a 17% pay difference between men and women, and that within the motor trade the workplace is still a male dominated zone. In 2010 only 1 in 5 employees within the European Automotive industry were women, and in the workshop, women make up less that 1% of staff. There is evidence to suggest that open discrimination continues. The Doncaster GTA use the example of Technician Faye Gates, whose reasons why service departments rejected her applications genuinely included "you'll be too worried you’ll chip your nail varnish", "you'd be more suited to a job on reception" as well as the more blunt "we don't employ women in our workshop", demonstrates the problem with some of the motor trades attitude towards women.

Yes, some would argue the stereotypes of family life, and the outdated idea that women should give up careers for family are attitudes that are unfortunately still ripe in some sections of the trade, but this still should not mean that women should get any less of a chance or value than men, and the fear of 1 year of maternity pay should not deter employers from giving talented women roles in the motor trade. The truth is that common differences in personalities and perspectives actually mean men and women do offer different things in the motor trade and it strengthens the idea that there should be a more equal gender balance in the motor trade, as these differences should actually be exploited for the good of the industry. Mixed management composed of both sexes can bring lots of benefits, adding new perspectives to situations, and improve the running of the dealership. Similarly, a mixed Sales or Service teams can broaden techniques and help create a better balance and can make the dealerships far more friendlier places for those who feel uncomfortable with being in dealerships now, whilst sex should definitely have no bearing on who can or who cannot be in the workshops.

Taking nothing away from the brilliant work men in the motor trade do already, a more diverse workforce could very easily reap greater awards for the motor trade...

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