23 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

How can automotive businesses be more gender inclusive?

The automotive industry is ready to race ahead with a raft of technological advancements, but in other ways, the sector is held back by a manpower crisis, a term which may in fact define the problem.

According to Deloitte’s Women in Automotive Industry Survey, 40% of women would choose a different industry if they could go back to the start of their careers, and 50% of women surveyed would leave the automotive sector for lack of promotion opportunities.

With this in mind, we spoke to Sarah Worthington Corporate Sales Manager at Select Car Leasing, who reveals her thoughts on female representation in the automotive industry in 2021.

Tell us about your current job and how you got into the motor industry
I currently head up the new corporate team at Select Car Leasing as Corporate Sales Manager, offering fleet customers an end-to-end cost saving solution for their vehicles.

I had a love for all things automotive from a young age – most of my childhood was spent on a pedal go-kart every weekend! My career in motors began in 2014 when I worked at BMW an MINI.

Working in automotive comes with many perks – I recently got the chance to drive the Tesla Model 3 Performance and Mercedes EQC, both very different EVs on the market and it gave an insight into what the future of motoring holds.

Is the industry more female friendly than it used to be?
The industry is still very male dominated, but I feel extremely accepted as a female manager and leader. In the last year, 60% of women working in the automotive sector saw some positive change in attitudes towards women employees.
Women currently only represent 20% of the automotive workforce in the UK and I’d love to see that rise to a 50/50 split in years to come.

What can automotive businesses do to close the talent gap?
One, focus on gender equality in recruitment and retention. Studies reveal that 90% of women in automotive feel they are under-represented in leadership positions. Opening promotional opportunities up to more women and working with them to progress in their automotive careers shows you’re investing in creating a better gender balance at work.

But how do you retain your current female employees? One of the biggest contributors to poor employee retention in the automotive industry is a poor work-life balance. One way you can improve this is by limiting the hours spent on overtime and weekend work so your employees are taking their needed two days off.

Two, promote an appealing environment for women. Alongside a better work-life balance, female employees want to feel comfortable and empowered in their working environment. Giving your female employees a platform by gathering insights by survey or private discussions so you can action the feedback and change up the environment.

Working on your company culture is one of the best ways to attract potential employees. Taking into account your employees’ demands outside of work, whether it be childcare or other commitments, can create a rewarding environment for employees to work in. At Select Car Leasing, we have policies that adjust to an individual’s commitments outside of work. We have employees that work different hours due to childcare and it really creates a happier working environment.”

Three, analyse and learn from other sectors. Other sectors in STEM are currently looking to recruit from those of a younger working age to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled workforce. Automotive businesses can work with schools and colleges to gather apprentices. However, choosing female representatives for your business to perform educational talks at these schools, colleges and universities can eliminate to gender bias and attract more young women into the industry.

In conclusion, employing an engaged and diverse workforce benefits all stakeholders in your automotive business. Having an inclusive workforce leads to increased employee morale, a better company culture and larger talent pool when hiring in future.