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'Employ more women or risk missing out on millions of pounds', dealers told

IMI chief executive Steve Nash

Dealership bosses need to work harder to diversify their workforce and make their business female friendly, says IMI chief executive Steve Nash.

The results of a survey commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry found that 96% of female drivers want to see more females in dealership in order to arrest a trend which sees 31% of women uncomfortable about organising maintenance work.

Just 1% of vehicle technicians are currently female, according to the IMI, yet the number of women drivers set to outnumber men.

This week the IMI launched a campaign at the London Motor Show to warn the trade to employ more women or risk losing business.

Nash said: “The number of women drivers in the UK continues to increase year on year. It is important businesses understand and develop their methods, behaviour and attitudes to reflect the changes in the consumer landscape.

“There is a massive knowledge gap between the professional and the customer (whether they are male or female), in this industry so it’s important businesses enforce changes such as diversifying their workforce, introducing transparency when describing faults and pricing to ensure all their customers feel as comfortable as possible.”

The IMI’s survey showed women were four times more likely to get someone else to take their car to a garage than men and felt reluctant to go to a professional technician due to the fear of spiraling costs.

Nearly 40% of drivers said they didn’t notice any females working in their local garage on their previous visit, and also said how they did not know what they were being charged for and would not know how to challenge a bill if they felt it was wrong. 

When it came to choosing a garage in an emergency most said that without knowing the difference between a professional and a rogue trader, they simply went for the closest available and hoped for the best.

The IMI’s campaign will aim to address these issues and help women care for their cars, give them the necessary knowledge to confidently deal with garages, and direct them to skilled and trustworthy technicians’ in their local area through the online IMI Professional Register.

But Nash said that more needed to be done to attract women to jobs within the automotive industry too. He added: “With over 250 different job roles and automotive technology continuing to develop there is a wide variety of career choices available.

“The IMI are working with organisations to encourage females to consider the automotive industry as an exciting sector to be a part of.”

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