Tag Archives: Ford Motor Company

Made in Dagenham in 2010

I saw and enjoyed the feel good film Made in Dagenham recently and came away wondering if things have really changed all that much since 1968 for women and those working in the UK motor industry.

Yes of course factory conditions are more female friendly nowadays but women still haven’t earned wage parity and seem just as stressed, overburdened and short of time in 2010 whilst we juggle work, career, family and personal lives.

I don’t know all there is to know about Ford, Dagenham and working practices in the UK motor industry in the 60s, nor do I know how much of the film’s commentary is authentic but I am assuming that the important bits are true. Important bits like Ford US sending their oxymoronic industry relations guru to the UK who threatened the then (female) Secretary of Trade that if she didn’t sort out the female strike at Dagenham, Ford would take its assembly plant elsewhere. What a bully.

But thanks to a combination of factors including the determination of real life battleaxe union leader Rose (a million miles removed from the film portrayal of the quietly spoken and pretty Rita apparently), PM Harold Wilson being out of communications range (no mobile phones or internet communications then remember) and HM Government’s representative being feisty Barbara Castle, the female workers got a settlement at 92% of the male wage. 100% would have been too much for men to stomach at this stage, apparently, but the action did herald the 1970 Equal Pay Act and all that promised for the future.

Yet 40 years on, in 2010 women working full time in Britain still earn on average 16.4 per cent less per hour than men. How can this be justified?

I listened to the real female strike leaders in a recent Woman’s Hour programme. They explained that it wasn’t equal pay they started fighting for; what they wanted was equal recognition for their machinist skills alongside the men. Of course they soon learned that the only way to measure this was financially, hence the massive significance of this battle for women worldwide in future. Just think of it – in 1968 they were earning less than half the wage of men whilst doing the same job for the Ford Motor Company.

I find it interesting that the UK motor industry is still such a male dominated environment where more than 80% of the workforce is male. Is this the case for machinists nowadays I wonder? Could it be that this widely publicised strike deterred women from joining the motor industry and encouraged testosterone fuelled male union leaders to recruit in their own male likeness – both things could have contributed to the male dominated and distinctly un-female friendly image of the industry today.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Ford Motor Co reacts to the film to remind women how it is a female friendly business today. Like most manufacturers they seem to feel the need to treat men and women customers the same in franchised dealerships which is missing the point – men and women are different, with different needs and expectations.

I think Ford UK would do well to look at ways to satisfy these different gender needs. Time saving services (their Direct internet offering with female friendly extras perhaps?), Female Business Ambassadors, moneysaving and preferential deals in female friendly garages and franchised dealerships – these will all attract the female purse if packaged correctly and ahead of other brands.

Needless to say (sales plug coming…) FOXY can help because it’s a female brand meaning shrewd, canny and astute; exactly what women need to be to get a fair deal in the male dominated motor industry today.

And ‘female friendly’ has to be the future for leading businesses in the motor industry because women influence c80% of car and garage sales, because the industry has such a poor image in female minds, because women trust women in such a male dominated world and because female job applicants (that the industry needs many more of) want to work for a female friendly employer knowing there are many of the rest out there…

FOXY

FOXY Choice subscribers sign the female friendly FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need or want’. They are then introduced to members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club in bi-monthly Member Newsletters. Women wanting to work in the UK motor industry would do well to choose a FOXY Choice subscriber as evidence of their female friendly employer credentials.

Time to reward good women drivers?

Yet another survey to tell us that many cars driven by women drivers aren’t as safe on our roads as they should be. Last week it was Kwik Fit telling us this and now it’s the Ford Motor Company, relayed to us by female friendly car dealership Hendy Ford in Southampton and environs.

... but I had it MOT'd last monthFord has found┬╣ that millions of male and female motorists (another massively extrapolated survey mind you) are taking unnecessary risks by scrimping on essential car maintenance in an attempt to reduce their overall motoring costs. Nearly one in five motorists interviewed had no breakdown cover and 15 per cent say they have skipped or postponed routine car servicing to save money.

This situation is worse among younger drivers including students living on a meagre grant. One in three 18 to 24 year old drivers are making do without roadside assistance, with drivers in London most likely (22 per cent) to take this risk.

Mike Weatherston, Group Marketing Manager at Hendy Ford, said: “Whilst trying to avoid the cost, many of these drivers could regret skipping basic maintenance and roadside cover.”

How true Mike. My concern is that this lack of regular maintenance and servicing could be the cause of an unnecessary accident which injures someone (what price economy then). Few motorists realise that if a car is seen to be unroadworthy, the insurer can withdraw cover as well.

I’d also add two further considerations to this important debate.

1 Many women drivers dread going to garages or dealerships because they don’t consider them to be female friendly places.

2 Many motorist, male and female alike, think that the industry MOT is a safety check for the year when it’s only a snapshot on the day.

Yes they should know these things but if they don’t because the industry doesn’t welcome them (as in 1) or explain this well enough (as in 2), whose fault is that?

The answer is that there is a massive communications gap and opportunity for the industry to get these messages across to the general public not just petrolheads, so that all motorists, including women drivers, have absolutely no doubt in their mind that

  • regular car maintenance keeps them, their family, other motorists and potentially pedestrians safe
  • annual car servicing doesn’t have to be expensive (depends on the mileage)
  • female friendly garages are best (see FOXY Choice)
  • members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club can claim free car fitness checks from participating female friendly garages and dealerships.

Surely it’s time for the industry to do something about all this, not just produce more me-too research, year in, year out?

One positive way forward would be for a leading insurer to offer cheap car insurance for women drivers (in this instance) who can prove they have maintained their car regularly by having it checked by a professional foxy approved and female friendly UK garage. I mention this because FOXY could organise this for them of course and our Car Fitness Checks are free. Cars would be safer, motorists would visit appointed garages more often and the best garages are likely to get her work and referrals.

FOXY

Find out about other female friendly UK garages

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┬╣ = 2,245 UK adults, interviewed by YouGov for Ford Motor Company Limited, between 14-16 April 2010