Women should put themselves forward for leadership positions and support other women to do so to help break bias in the automotive sector.
That was one of the main messages from the Heycar ‘Break the Bias’ panel discussion, held in recognition of the 2022 International Women’s Day theme, with influential women in the automotive sector.
Men currently occupy most board level roles in the automotive setor, with women representing only 10% of the workforce at executive level and 20% overall, according to a study by Deloitte.
Heycar said a more diverse workforce will help make car dealerships more inclusive for customers and help address the skills shortage the industry faces in transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) with the Government’s 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans.
These are points made by Automotive 30% Club founder in her panel discussion at AM Live 2021 and in a recent AM News Podcast discussion with Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) president Prof Jim Saker, who is currently heading-up the IMI Diversity Task Force investigation into D&I in the sector.
The Heycar event included an expert, all-female panel made up of: Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles; Katie Black, joint jead of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV); Kirsten Stagg, head of marketing at Skoda UK; and Moyosola Fujamade, national contract hire relationship manager at Kia UK, with Heycar’s marketing director Maren Coleman as moderator.
Howarth said: “Women are slightly more reserved in terms of being willing to take those riskier positions. We need to be braver, to take the risks.
“We need to back ourselves and back each other. If there's a situation where a woman in your team might be less likely to take that more risky job, but you know that they could, why don't you just reach out to them and say, ‘have you thought about putting yourself forward for that?’”
She said that the increase in flexible working due to the COVID-19 pandemic will help enable more women to take on some of the riskier jobs.
Heycar said having the support of male colleagues can also be instrumental in women’s careers.
Fujamade said: “You need to be willing to put yourself out there to a degree. You might aspire of becoming a director but if you never tell anybody then nobody is going to open those doors for you.”
Maren Coleman, marketing director at Heycar, said: “Our panellists have all carved out fantastic careers in the automotive sector and show what can be achieved.
“But our discussion also highlights the need for more diversity in the automotive workforce.
“Breaking the bias is something we all need to consider and work on every day - both personally and collectively as businesses.”