Tag Archives: equality

Proud to be equal but different

pinkbusWe’re a long way off gender equality in the UK, be this to do with boardroom roles, pay & career opportunities, the way we are treated in the media, our share of domestic roles and sexist attitudes that always amaze me.

But until we women vote for equality for ourselves (why do so many women waste their vote?) it’s the actions of the few banging the female drum for the many that are making a difference today.

Why is it that female apathy thrives at the ballot box? Take Harriet’s pink bus, for example. Castigated for a ‘pink-it’ Labour election strategy, too many women bickered at each other rather than getting behind the big issues then used this as a ‘patronising’ excuse not to vote.

Could it be that ‘pink-happy’ females feel unable to stand up to the ‘pink-stinks’ brigade for fear of social media ridicule? Or that some women are too selfish to care about ‘lesser’ others? Or, heaven to Betsy, that some women are content to live in a society dictated by men?

The disadvantages of equality

On the other hand, equality may mean the end of treating women with respect. As in opening doors for us, doffing one’s hat in a ‘you go first’ gentilesse or giving up bus seats to pregnant women. Why would young men treat us with this sort of old-fashioned respect in future if they’ve been taught we’re all the same? And why should women do men’s ironing, lead re: grandchildren care and so on? Maybe we’ve moved on from all this already…

Sadly, as females get wealthier, more independent and equal, a repercussion is that in creep the bad behaviours that used to be exclusively male. Increasingly women drink and drive, commit fraud, have affairs, are violent towards partners and slag off their gender for not choosing the same gender lifestyle path as they have…

Which is a serious gender crime best explained by Madeleine Albright,the first female Secretary of State in the United States, who said

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

As I see it, too many females forget how tough it often is for others, being expected to outbloke men in today’s society but without an appreciation of the opportunity cost.

Where equality doesn’t figure

Gender equality rarely retains its relevance when it comes to relationships and parenting roles. As I see it, men and women are stronger together when they’re complementing each other with a view to a happier family whole. In that instance, surely we should ALL be happy to relinquish perceived equality and put ourselves second, where necessary, not vie for parity or centre stage all the time.

Needless to say we aren’t equal when it comes to giving birth or breastfeeding nor are we in our relationships with our children. Mums are different from Dads, no matter how hard we try to challenge any stereotypical technical or domestic roles. And no matter how hard single parents try to be both…

Rewriting equality rules

On the other hand, men who used to think that women can’t be bin-men will have to think again as will any women thinking that men can’t be midwives. All good examples of how gender jargon, job descriptions and customer expectations will need to change…

Then there’s the issue of equality in toy shops which for some means stocking Barbies and Action Men together on the same toy shelf. Surrounded by liberal Mums encouraging Alfie and Lily to buck the old fashioned gender toy trend.

But you’d be wrong if you thought that ‘Toys for Girls’ searches would have disappeared from Google – there are some 345 million listed entries here (with a mere 219 million for ‘Toys for Boys’). So the gender status quo remains alive and thriving although these businesses mightn’t be shouting about this for fear of offending the ‘everyday sexism’ lobby.

And I think this is also true when it comes to selling to grown up men and women. For example, many businesses tell me they treat men and women the same, thinking that’s what they should be doing. But that’s commercial nonsense in areas like the motor industry when you know who is the gender spender and what they think about cars and garage services. You’d want to address that in the customer’s mind, surely? And in 80% of all cases, the decision influencer is female and, by and large, she’s critical of the status quo, hence the opportunity for the best businesses to become her choice…

The fact remains that men and women are equal but DIFFERENT as customers. And whilst there will be ‘pink-stinks’ women who think equality means treating boys & girls as well as men & women the same from childhood, you can be sure they’re also among the most fussy shoppers when it comes to purchases they make/influence on behalf of their male partners.

And what’s wrong with that? Don’t we need MORE fussy customers, not FEWER, to drive up standards for ALL customers wherever they are flagging?

Doing things the female way

Which is what FOXY does of course, benchmarking quality standards in the motor industry then encouraging competition among the best to benefit females (and males) alike. In short we empower the female business choice, recognising that women are usually the gender spenders. Automotive businesses that get customer service levels right for us are more likely to meet our female friendly approved standards, delighting most men in the process.

womens_equality_party_250And why wouldn’t this method work for the UK on a macro scale as well. Far fetched perhaps but why wouldn’t men be better off were we to do politics the female way for a change?

I’m looking forward to seeing how the new Women’s Equality Party sets about this in future. I’ve just joined. Have you?

Vive La Difference…

Fashion-led feminism or the female business case?

f_t_shirt As ill at ease as they looked wearing these T shirts I suspect that Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg probably had a better idea of the meaning of the F word than most.

A TV programme last week, A Fair Deal For Women, showed a classroom of boys and girls being asked two questions in the classroom.

Firstly if they were feminists and secondly if they supported equal rights. Almost all answered no to the first question but yes to the second.

And yet both questions were the same, couched in different terms.

The definition of feminism

My personal definition of feminism is gender equality in terms of education, training, job opportunities, pay and parental rights/responsibilities. This is based on common sense thinking influenced more by the school of life rather than eminent Suffragists or academics.

My sphere of special interest and influence here is the UK motor industry but it doesn’t stop me marvelling at the work that Malala is doing on a global stage. Not does it stop me wondering how a £45 T shirt promoting feminism might allow The Mail to claim sweat shop factory associations that go against the very fabric (pun intended) of such an intentionally informative communications campaign.

Equality confusion

But there are other areas of misunderstanding here. That this is a feminine issue. That there is no place for equality in some work environments. That men and women should be treated alike as customers and employees…

Equal rights as previously stated? 100% yes, to benefit men and women alike. Thank goodness that most of the enlightened influencers in the motor industry are male.

Categorically ‘no’ to those ostriches who think men and women are the same when it comes to shopping or looking for employment…

Inevitably when you mention gender there is a price to be paid, often in terms of abuse using the anonymity of social media. Someone, somewhere will surely feel the need to express their male superiority in some way or (because it isn’t always just men that object here) women expecting other women to be treated the same as men and not needing special treatment.

Clearly neither camp has my experience of being a regular female motorist (by which I mean neither petrol-headed nor mechanically adept) when it comes to shopping across the board in the motor industry. And if it were the case that all garages and car dealers were qualified to do their jobs (mechanics and car sales staff aren’t licensed to do their job but that’s another issue) there would still be huge gaps between those businesses that provide a female friendly environment as in their cleanliness, comfort and time-saving services.

If businesses in the motor industry want to court the best young recruits they’ll know that these include females who are outperforming their male counterparts in most academic subjects at GCSE level. So they need to address their working conditions with women in mind, with a view to competing with more female friendly industries and employers. And those females that make it to the top need to be seen as role models and actively court females in their wake to follow in their footsteps.

My research among female apprentices tells me that you have to be a special type of individual to get on in the motor industry. Just imagine being the first female mechanic in an unwelcoming macho workshop or the first female selling cars in a showroom, or the first ‘token’ female into an overly complacent all male Boardroom.
Much easier running your own business perhaps (as I do!) because you can do things the female way, not be expected to behave (or become) masculine-like simply to conform. Although many women do.

Enlightened men support women

I am delighted to say that a great number of FOXY supporters are male. Not just because they believe in the principle of equality but because they know from experience that a gender balanced workforce makes for better, joined up decisions and a happier working environment. Not only is gender likely to become an area of considerable competitive advantage when it comes to best practice employers but we are starting to see companies address staff benefits that will appeal to Mums more than Dads. They want to encourage the best females to come forward to take their rightful place in tomorrow’s motor industry.

On the other hand our male support may have something to do with the fact that the number of female motorists will soon outnumber males, that we influence c80% of car/aftersales buying decisions and that we are more demanding customers – than most men have been to date.

The Female Business Case

Some readers will continue to see gender matters as fashion-led feminism because they don’t understand the implications for their business. The enlightened CEOs and influencers know better and see this as ‘The Female Business Case’. My experience is that more and more women are making a female choice in masculine industries like the motor one, whether as customers or employees. Those companies that go the extra mile for her business will win her custom and trust. I think that’s worth the effort and wait…

Vive la difference, as ever.

FOXY Steph

If you’d like to comment via Twitter please use the @FOXYtweets or @FOXYSteph addresses.

No need for young women drivers to despair about car insurance

Call me suspicious but when there’s bad news to be announced it’s usually leaked out under cover of a bigger story.

And what could be a bigger story than Christmas?

The bad news is that the UK Gender Directive arrived on 21 December and it will undoubtedly price many young women drivers off the road as a result.

Some call it D-Day – the D standing for despair presumably, as felt by many young females when they receive their renewal insurance notifications from now on.

I’m not talking so much about rich families because, in most cases, their parents will simply cough up. I’m talking about those that aren’t well off but who scrimped and saved to fund their own driving lessons, test and first car. And all of them young women who are statistically less likely to speed or take risks than their male counterparts…

Was it so unreasonable for them to expect their insurance premiums to reduce not double and more as looks to be the case in future?

The irony is that this gender discrimination has been inflicted on us by the European Court of Justice [sic] and a German Mum of six. Shame on you Juliane Kokott – when we needed you to stick up for your gender you put your career first. Who needs enemies when we can’t even rely on our own sex for support.

The future for car insurance for women

By the New Year we’ll have the new FOXY Lady Insurance website to help. Not just about car insurance it’ll also identify the best deals out there, seen through female eyes. What makes FOXY different is that we’re the UK’s only dedicated female brand for motorists and we’re totally independent. We’ll also be inviting female feedback about insurance services and insurers so we can share this to benefit others. And finally we’ll be promoting insurance agents and brokers who share our wish to provide female friendly insurance services to women in future. At times of change and potential unfairness it’s reassuring to rely on personal service from someone who uderstands.

Because, contrary to Juliane’s principles, equality doesn’t always mean that both genders are the same or that we want to be treated the same when it comes to customer service. So FOXY’ll tackle this service gap so women can rely on us to represent their best interests.

This will be my final blog to vent about this subject. It is clearly EU madness, FOXY was too late to the party to make a difference (this has been in the pipeline for over a decade whereas FOXY arrived in 2005) and it’s now time to move on. Amen.

The FOXY way forward

If, having read this far, you share my indignation, there are three things you could do to help young women, with a view to the future.

1 Please LIKE our FOXY Lady Insurance Page at Facebook.

2 Tell any young female motorists to contact FOXY Lady Insurance if their renewal quote rises unfairly. We’ll try to beat it by introducing them to a FOXY Lady Approved insurance adviser who’ll listen, understand and be well informed about their situation.

3 Bookmark our new website and return to it in the New Year (and tell others to do the same).

Thank you for listening…

FOXY Steph

The high price of female success

We all know that we can’t have it all but there often seems to be something in the female genes to suggest we might, if we simply worked a bit harder… and then a bit harder.

From personal experience it seems to me that women face more risks than men today when they set out for the top in their chosen industry.

One risk is that married women might put their career before their marriage and end up professionally successful but living alone. Which might be preferable for some of course…

Another is that women returning to work after maternity leave may feel the need to opt for part time roles so they can fit in their childcare and home responsibilities.

And I’m sure we all know or have read about women who delay starting a family until it’s too late and live to regret this. Of course some don’t regret this at all, but with women delaying their families until they’re financially better off in their 40s, it’s statistically much riskier to give birth then than in their 20s and 30s.

The final risk I see is that successful females end up being the success they crave but don’t recognise the person they have become to get there, as US singer-actress Fanny Brice explains so well…

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where will you be?”

Aren’t these career risks the same for men?

I don’t think men face the same career risks. Those I know who are ambitious, successful and keen to have a family seem to have rolled out their career carpet at an early stage and chosen a partner who supports their ambition, appreciates the lifestyle rewards and is willing to play second fiddle to her husband. Having thought long and hard about this, I honestly don’t know any men who took time out from their careers to be full time Dads (time off to help when the baby was born, yes) compared to the many Mums that do. And finally, very few men seem to suffer anything like the same feelings of guilt that women do, trying to juggle home, family and career responsibilities.

Many of these risks evidently exist for ambitious women in the motor industry whether they are at the top, getting close to the top or simply starting at the bottom. Despite it being generally agreed that more women are a good thing in the industry, few leading businesses seem to have diversity at the top of their strategic agenda and few female school leavers and/or graduates seem aware of the exciting career opportunities they could be enjoying in this male dominated industry.

How do women in the motor industry see this?

I am often intrigued when women at the top of male dominated industries say they haven’t encountered discrimination on the way up. They probably haven’t because they’ve had to be exceptionally talented to get there in the first place. But they’d have to be blind to see that this isn’t true for everyone, including women who perhaps aren’t quite as exceptional or dedicated. And mightn’t the sacrifices that these exceptional females have made be deterring other very talented women from following in their wake? There are still so many motor industry Companies without even one female Executive Board Director, as things stand.

The reason this matters is because women in influential and customer facing roles can be seen as role models for tomorrow’s leaders, in an industry that needs to be seen as a more female friendly place than it is today, to please the gender spender, the female shopper.

At present too many women see garages and car showrooms as places to avoid, where you need to take a man with you for support, or where you need to enter with guns blazing for fear of being patronised and/or ripped off.

Hear, hear Fanny Brice. Nobody can have it all in life, of course, and I’m only speaking for me but I’d like to see women being encouraged to be the women they are, not men in skirts (as it were).

Let’s celebrate the fact that men and women work best together (as in marriage) when it’s seen to be a partnership, not a battle of the sexes. That’s the success we should all want to work towards in business, with women playing an equal part alongside men. And if this requires changes to business culture and/or working hours to help women, in particular, through their family years, then so be it.

FOXY Steph

Insurers turn a blind eye to female fairness

As public sector cuts hit more women than men, UK insurers look set to make things worse by jumping on the gender bandwagon in December and charging women up to 25% more for their car insurance premiums in response to an EU ruling in the name of gender equality.

And why wouldn’t insurers do precisely this with the EU to blame, knowing that higher premiums for females mean higher profits for them (because women are the lesser gender risk and therefore cheaper to insure).

But what is our Government doing about this on behalf of women drivers? Not a lot it would appear…

Women bearing the brunt of our double dip recession

As things stand, women are suffering disproportionately in the jobless stakes and the number of female jobseekers has leapt to its highest rate in 23 years with more than a million women registered as unemployed in this country. This is a rise of 91,000 in a year, according to think tank IPPR and based on statistics released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

And they are losing their jobs at a much faster rate than men. For example, during the last three months in 2011, the female jobless rate rose by 33,000 compared to 16,000 for males, with 340,000 women having been unemployed for more than a year.

Oh that this would be the bottom of the trough but the situation looks likely to get even worse because women represent 80 per cent of the 710,000 public sector workers who are to be made redundant over the next five years. And one in 10 jobs is also forecast to be cut in local government where 75 per cent of the workforce is female.

And the Labour Party’s Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, is already accusing Mr Cameron of having a “blind spot” when it comes to women’s issues: “As long as the Government is pushing women out of work, weakening action on the gender pay gap, reducing childcare and threatening to undermine maternity rights, they are making it harder, not easier, for women to work or to get promoted throughout their lives,” she said.

Could insurance price hikes be the female tipping point?

By allowing the EU to encourage insurers to penalise women drivers under cover of gender equality legislation, there is the real possibility that the Government will alienate previously loyal female voters simply because the cost of their motoring will soar.

Let’s remember that many women put up with poor public transport systems and depend on their cars for family, community and part time work as well as their personal independence.

If insurance premiums for women drivers rise by up to 25% and UK insurers can lay the blame on the EU, what is to stop women drivers from laying the blame in turn on the UK’s Government who seem to have done nothing to fend off this grossly unfair attack on UK females.

Ironically the EU motor insurance Directive calls itself a gender equality ruling and yet it is clearly discriminating against women drivers who have previously been entitled to lower car insurance premiums based on their lower risk.

If you’d like to subscribe to FOXY’s Insurance News, we’ll keep you posted.

Please also LIKE the Club’s Facebook page so we can share the latest developments and female feedback this summer.

FOXY Steph