When I first joined the motor trade as a graduate trainee, it didn’t strike me as odd that the industry was male dominated. I had been part of a business degree cohort where 60% of the students were women, at a time when the Prime Minister was a woman, and I naturally assumed that from this point on, things would change.
Fast forward 25 years and have we closed this gender gap in the motor trade? No.
Yet the customer base we serve is becoming increasingly female. This year there will be more women licence holders than men in the UK. The gap between male and female car buyers has narrowed, with 40% of buyers being female, and Frost and Sullivan famously asserted in their research that 80% of car purchases are influenced by women, and that women drive more miles, and spend more time in their cars than men.
So, we have cars largely engineered by men, sold mainly by men through businesses led by men, to an increasingly female market. Intuitively, a business which understands and empathises with its customers is better equipped to provide a good customer experience. Add that to evidence that shows that businesses with women leaders on boards are more profitable and make better decisions and there is a compelling reason to act to close the gender gap in the motor trade.
The skills needed for the new digital retailing environment are changing and we do not have enough of them. We are competing with industries with better images, for talent which is in short supply, and we are not attracting applications from enough women who at 51% are the majority of the population.
So we must take action now.
The UK Automotive 30% Club are committed to the aspirational aim of filling 30% of key leadership positions with women by 2030 through a “30 by 30” strategy.
Because that is the tipping point at which the minority in a group gets a voice and is listened to, and begins to influence change.
Because it is necessary to take the time to attract, recruit, develop and promote talented women.
For our 2016 Reach Out campaign we are collaborating with the government’s Inspiring Women programme, organising “career speed networking” events. The first one will take place with 100 girls and 20 female motor trade executives at the CDX16 event at Silverstone. We are also partnering with the Speakers for Schools Charity, giving inspirational speeches in schools and offering work experience opportunities – at least 50% of which must be to girls. Finally, we are creating a digital work experience matching platform in partnership with getmyfirstjob.co.uk, which will enable motor trade employers to post opportunities free of charge and connect with local school students looking for work experience.
The Reach Out activities are open to all who want to support and there is no cost to participate. I would urge all women in the industry to register with Inspiring Women and volunteer an hour of their time a year to inspire girls to join us. I would also be grateful to any employer who is willing to offer work experience to post vacancies on the soon to be launched getmyfirstjob.co.uk site.
If you would like to learn more about the closing the gender gap or the UK Automotive 30% Club please get in touch at email@example.com or follow me on twitter.