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'No silver bullet' for inclusion, UK Automotive 30% Club conference hears

Delegates at the UK Automotive 30% Club's fourth annual conference celebrate inclusion in the Top 50 Inclusive Companies rankings

Automotive industry leaders were told there is “no silver bullet” to increase female inclusivity in the sector’s key roles as the UK Automotive 30% Club hosted its fourth annual conference.

The event, attended by more than 100 HR directors, MDs, chief executives and change leaders from across the automotive sector, was held at Auto Trader’s head offices at Kings Cross last Thursday (November 28) as the online car retail marketplace reached 9th position in the organisation’s Top 50 Inclusive Companies rankings.

Auto Trader said in a statement issued after the event that the sector’s leaders agreed that more action was required if the sector is to meet the UK Automotive 30% Club’s target of 30% of key roles filled by women by 2030.

Paul Philpot, president and chief executive of Kia Motors UK - the 2019 AM Awards' Franchise Partner of the Year - said that the Korean brand had bought into the principles of female inclusion, but said: “We know for it to be a success it has to come from the top, and to work with our dealer partners and suppliers to make sure that at all levels we’re moving forward in terms of diversity.

“There is no silver bullet, but rather, the whole of our activities being greater than the sum of our parts. We’re still on our journey, but we’re proud of where we are.”

Commenting on the need for more action to achieve the 2030 ambitions, Julia Muir, the UK Automotive 30% Club’s founder, said: “Starting in 2020 we need to take real action to accelerate and innovate, to do what is right for business but also for society.

“We need to put the foundations in place to ensure more women apply for jobs and promotions, and to ensure the barriers to progression are removed to ensure the capable and high performing women fulfil their potential and are retained, in order to achieve business growth and unlock productivity and profitability gains as soon as possible.”

Back in October the UK Automotive 30% Club hosted its Inspiring Automotive Women Awards 2019.

At last week's fourth annual conference included a full-day seminar featuring input from HR directors at Volkswagen Group, Jardine Motors Group, and Toyota GB.

A panel of automotive leaders including Alison Jones, managing director of Groupe PSA UK; Kristian Elvefors, managing director of Volvo Cars UK; and John Tordoff, chief executive of JCT600 explained how they are addressing the gender imbalance within their own organisations

The event included guest experts highlighting the level of gender bias that women continue to face, including within the automotive sector.

Caroline Criado Perez, author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, highlighted that various aspect of car design is still only being modelled on men.

Meanwhile, Auto Trader’s chief operating officer, Catherine Faiers, and agency and manufacturing director, Rebecca Clark, joined Dealer Auction’s chief executive, Le Etta Pearce, to discuss the impact of embedding a more diverse and inclusive culture into their businesses.

Faiers said: “As well as hosting this year’s event, it was a huge privilege for us to share our diversity and inclusion (D&I) story.

“Working with organisations like the Automotive 30% Club, which plays such an important role in bringing together like-minded individuals, has been instrumental to achieving our D&I ambitions.

“As a business we’re firm believers that creating a diverse and inclusive culture is about instilling a working environment that all our colleagues can bring their true selves to work.

“In doing so we attract a broad range of talent, skills and fresh thinking, which is so vital in today’s competitive landscape.”

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