Tag Archives: sex discrimination

Foxy Faye meets female friendly garage employer in Braintree

This thought provoking story reminds us that parts of the motor industry are in urgent need of a radical female friendly makeover to challenge and banish old fashioned views and stereo-typical ‘blokey’ comments about jobs women can and can’t do…

Because the fact is that women can do any job they want to; as well as men and often better than them.

Fortunately there is a happy ending to this story, thanks to Grants SEAT in Braintree and you must forgive a shameless plug here because Grants SEAT is, of course, part of the FOXY Choice approved Female Friendly garage network…

But how many young and talented women like Faye Gates have been put off an exciting career opportunity in the UK motor industry today because of similar misogynistic views that have gone unchallenged and remained entrenched?

This is Faye’s story…

Colchester Institute student Faye Gates was beginning to lose hope of ever finding the apprenticeship she needed to complete her three-year vehicle maintenance course after receiving more than 200 knock-backs from garages.

Reasons for rejection included ‘we don’t employ women in our workshop’, ‘you’ll be too worried you’ll chip your nail varnish’, ‘you’d be better suited to a job on reception’ and ‘we just don’t have the facilities for women.’

But after reading about her plight in the Braintree and Witham Times earlier this year Faye was offered a trial by local car retailer Grants SEAT and, after impressing them in that role, she was taken on full-time as the dealership’s latest apprentice and has since been enrolled on the SEAT Advanced Apprenticeship Programme at the Volkswagen Group’s state-of-the-art National Learning Centre.

And, after finally earning the confidence of a forward-thinking employer, she has regained her ambition and is once again determined to work her way through the ranks to become a SEAT Master Technician.

An excited Faye said: ‘I’ve wanted to be a technician since I was about 14 when I started hanging about with people who were really into their cars but I was beginning to give up hope of ever finding an apprenticeship.’

‘But I sent out so many CV’s and got nowhere and people were often really blatant about the reasons why they didn’t want to hire me. On one occasion I was told by a garage that they had no vacancies only to discover they’d given an apprenticeship to one of my (male) classmates at college a few days later.’

‘It’s absolutely brilliant to be at Grants where they value all their employees and treat everybody equally. There’s just a really nice atmosphere and everyone genuinely gets along. I’m learning loads here and am really enjoying getting to work on all the cars in the range and using all the latest equipment. It’s also brilliant being on the SEAT Advanced Apprenticeship Programme and the facilities they have and the way they teach is just amazing.’

Grants SEAT Managing Director, Darren Williams, said:
‘It  beggars belief to hear some of the comments made to Faye as she tried to pursue her dream career. The reasons people gave for not employing her would have been totally unacceptable decades ago but in this day and age they’re absolutely outrageous. Thankfully though, they’re not representative of the modern motor industry.’

‘We were absolutely delighted to give Faye a shot after reading her story in the Times but giving her a job was no sympathy vote – she earned it. She was really impressive on her trial and since joining the team, her enthusiasm and willingness to learn has really shone through. Now she’s started her training properly on an industry-leading apprenticeship programme I’m sure she has a very bright future.’

Anthony Aldridge, a qualified Technician at Grants SEAT, said: ‘Having Faye join the dealership has been no different to when anyone else comes on board. She’s been a great addition to the team and is getting on really well.’

If any young women are reading this and wondering how they might find a job in the motor industry today I suggest they browse through the database of FOXY Choice female friendly garages and dealerships for starters. Another good place to look for career information and opportunities is the IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) career website.

And for 1:1 advice, by all means email me direct, Steph Savill via steph@foxychoice.com.


UK insurers discriminate against young women drivers

Did we want equality or simply fairness?

Many motor insurers are adopting a Pontius Pilate approach to drivers under 25 which amounts to unfair age discrimination against young women who are safer drivers than young men.

Young women are not the same insurance risk as young men. In general, women take longer to pass their test, are less confident and less likely to speed compared to their young male counterparts. Statistics confirm it is young men who are responsible for the majority of serious and fatal road accidents.

I can understand why some motor insurers decline insurance for male motorists aged under 25. The evidence is written large and clear in the UK’s road accident statistics. And of course, some insurers see this as a business opportunity, charging eye-watering premiums that some say are actively encouraging the claims culture to recoup the premium cost… If true, this would be a self-fulfilling and self-defeating circle until the insurance industry gets its act together and agrees a strategic approach towards the young male driving risk.

As things stand, by refusing to underwrite ALL motorists who are under 25, many insurers are effectively discriminating against young women drivers who are the safer and better car insurance risk. These motorists have LESS choice of insurers so available rates are LESS competitive. Young women are therefore being tarred with the same risk brush as young men and are having to pay MORE than they would for their car insurance otherwise, simply because of their age.

Why is that happening now? First of all, it doesn’t make commercial sense because the sooner insurers start their customer relationships with women the more likely they are to reap our loyalty and referrals. Secondly insurers aren’t required to charge men and women the same car insurance premiums until the EU equality ruling takes effect in December 2012. When premiums will rise a lot for all females of course.

How can this be fair for female motorists? Why isn’t anyone standing up for our rights here? Has it ever been any different I wonder…

Some say that all these efforts to increase rates and reduce risk are designed so that insurers can regain lost profits after some lean and excessively accident prone years.

Hence the average 40% increase in rates in 2011 to date. And which seems to have happened without anyone needing to approve this level of increase.

Fortunately both the Ministry for Justice (MoJ) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have been/are looking at different aspects of how the car insurance market is working so we can only hope that the issue of fairness will be addressed alongside that of equality.

Roll on the Ministry of Justice’s implementation of the ban on personal accident referral fees (it’s a start) and the OFT’s Call for Evidence review looking at ways to improve how the car insurance market is working.

FOXY Lady Drivers Club will be explaining to the OFT why this market isn’t operating fairly at present for women drivers with a particular emphasis on young women under 25 years old.

Please contact me via info@foxyladydrivers.com if you have any recent experience about motor insurance premium hikes and/or claims/accident handling to add weight to our submission.


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 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.

Should men and women pay the same for insurance?

Are men and women an equal insurance risk?

Should they be?
Yes if you are the gender paying paying more.  No if you are the gender paying less now.

Unsurprisingly ‘sex’ is at the top of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights’ list of grounds for discrimination and current EU law broadly prohibits sex discrimination in commerce. But there is an exception which states that ‘insurers may use sex to set premiums and benefits, if sex is a determining factor in the assessment of risk and if the assessment is backed up by actuarial and statistical data.’

So, think this one through…

When it comes to car insurance for women, young men have the more serious, fatal and expensive accidents whereas older women have more minor accidents than men in car parks and the likes. Fact and in general eoe.  So if you were an insurance company you’d want to charge younger women less than men and older men less than older women and so on…

Which is by and large what happens and why sometimes specialist car insurance brands for women, Sheilas Wheels and Diamond Insurance, are more expensive than other household names; each company decides which risks to underwrite based on the statistics that matter to them rather than solely gender/sex.

But according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) last month, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is to study legal opinion on alleged gender discrimination in the pricing of insurance products. And we have the EU’s Advocate General Juliane Kokott to thank for this, who wrote, in her legal opinion, that the practice (of gender discrimination) is ‘incompatible with the principle of equal treatment for men and women’. And whilst the European Court may over-ride the legal opinion in the final analysis we are told that opinions and lines of thought from court officers (like Ms. Kokott) are often followed.

But if removing sex as a factor is seen to be fairer to younger men in this instance (and will then mean insurance premiums rise dramatically for younger women to pay for their male counterparts dangerous driving habits) then the EU must surely do something about women vs men’s annuity rates – women always do worse than men here, because we apparently live longer than men.

An interesting one to watch.

And one way for Ms Kokott to court unpopularity across the EU which ever way she turns. Unless of course the unlikely idea is to raise insurance premiums across the board in which case she’ll be feted by all insurers…