Tag Archives: Women’s Equality Party

What does our Future hold now?

sussex_uni_galaxyLast Saturday I spent time in a planetarium at Sussex University finding out about galaxies, black holes and cosmic strings, being reminded just how small and insignificant we all are in the master plan of the universe.

But it didn’t stop me feeling depressed with the black hole state of things the UK is in after such a seismic and unpredicted referendum result.

And just so I have a record of these times and my thoughts through it all, here are my Top Ten FOXY Pearls of Wisdom I’ve learned during the last week – and they’re not all just about the recent referendum.

1. Never anticipate the outcome of a referendum.

2. Always have a contingency plan for all scenarios.

3. Democracy can mean living with decisions you don’t like.

4. It’s not always appreciated when the ‘usual losers’ are seen to win.

5. Whilst the pound struggles, tourism and manufacturing must exploit competitive advantage.

6. Ageism is on the march again.

7. All forms of racism are abhorrent.

8. Youth prefer the EU status quo vs a DIY future, despite today’s unaffordable housing & university education.

9. Nobody is a good Leader when their team doesn’t respect them.

10. A good Manager tells a football team how to play the game, and clearly England’s wasn’t and didn’t.

We live in interesting times. If ever a multi-faceted coalition government was needed to show us how to go forward together, it’s surely now.

I could go on but won’t. We all need to do our bit to steady the financial ship by working hard to see us through.

As we all know, from adversity and challenges come BIG business opportunities and I have no doubt that the motor industry will rise to these ahead of most others.

But let’s not waste time on deja vu thinking and hatred politics, especially where fuelled by social media, in case we miss out on the many global opportunities in future.


PS: I think women have something to bring to the party. If you haven’t done this already, why not join the Women’s Equality (WE) party to bring some sense to this all? It’s not just for women, of course, because they’re doing something similar to FOXY – addressing female issues so life gets better for men too.

PPS: For some reason I am reminded of the three word answer Mark Rylance’s character in Bridge of Spies always gave when asked why he wasn’t more depressed by his situation. These were ‘Would It Help?’ The answer was ‘No’ of course – and he was treated fairly in the end. Let’s hope there’s a morale in there somewhere?

More support needed for women to take the lead


I am proud to be a founder member of the Women’s Equality party known as WE.

But like the motoring Club I run, too many men and sadly women think this sort of gender based stuff is simply feminist fluff with us only wanting things all our own way.

We even hear excuses like ‘there aren’t enough women to take the lead’…

Well here we are and I hope you voted for the RIGHT candidates yesterday. Even if it meant taking a ‘risk’ on women for the first time? How else can we prove our mettle if we aren’t given that chance?

But perhaps the email I received from the party this morning might explain why voting for WE (women and men) and supporting FOXY Lady Drivers Club, is all about making things better for women and in turn for men too. It’s important to see the BIG picture before making gender assumptions and simply walking away…

And in the same way as FOXY Lady Drivers Club looks to the motor industry to support it, the WE party looks to men and women alike to support it. Much as the money raised by Sandy’s speaking tour goes towards WE. For us all to do a better job for everyone. Which isn’t difficult, given the state of things in politics and some areas of the motor industry today…

This is the email I received this morning (Friday 6 May 2016).


“We — Catherine and Sandi — founded the Women’s Equality party to shake up politics and push gender equality on to the agenda. We aimed not only to make change directly, but also to influence the old parties to up their game.

Because of you, that has already happened. Our brilliant campaigns in Wales, Scotland and London, each managed locally and powered by our amazing activists, forced all the other parties to focus on issues that too often are sidelined or ignored. WE turned the debate to caregiving and the gender pay gap and violence against women and WE then watched the other parties sidle up to our manifestos and scoop up our policies to repackage as their own.

Together WE have started something — a party, a movement, a realisation that things must change — and the elections were just the start.

Of course we are on the edges of our seats waiting for the results. There’s not one of our candidates who wouldn’t lift the standard of politics and bring the sorts of perspectives that are so badly lacking.

But we are also already celebrating, and what we are celebrating is YOU. You have helped WE to win in making a difference. And when WE win, everyone wins. Because equality is better for everyone.”


Hear, hear. And I support WE because it is the right thing to do.

I’m proud of WE for doing it.

And if YOU haven’t joined WE yet, can I suggest you do so NOW!

Because it’s money they need to stand up to the big budget boys in politics.

Have a look at the WE website please and JOIN US.

And I guarantee that if you are looking for a better motoring deal, women’ll struggle to find a better one than joining FOXY Lady Drivers Club too.

Why Women Drivers Matter

mary_barra_changeOn International Women’s Day one’s thoughts can happily turn to our own gender, hopefully without someone feeling the need to tell me there’s no International Men’s Day.

Well there mightn’t be but so what? If I want to write about women, celebrate feminism, praise the achievements of my gender, the new Women’s Equality Party and/or remind everyone why women matter then so be it.

Men have been patting themselves on their backs for years and that’s fine by me. But today it’s our turn and sadly the gender news in the motor industry isn’t as self congratulatory as it might look to those that don’t know how to scratch the surface here.

But let’s take this step by step…

1) The economic importance of women drivers

As you know, my blog is about women and motoring (by and large) so you can expect me to confine my comments to this area. So it’s worth reminding ourselves that the number of women drivers on UK roads will soon overtake that of men on our roads. So that’s close to 50% of all car tax, insurance and fuel payments/taxation straight away. We were at 47% of license holders last year for your information…

Then let’s add in the fact that women buy about half of all ‘new’ cars in their own right, influencing as many as 80% of all cars bought*. By influence, that’s when ‘he’ chooses the car but says to the salesman ‘that’s what I want but my wife/partner needs to approve this before I pay’. In the US they say this female influence accounts for as many as 90% of car sales. And some car dealers put this at 100%, based on evident experience (and a wicked sense of down-trodden humour I suspect).

* estimated as two million brand new cars and some five million used cars.

2) The female motoring multiplier effect

The point of this massive consumer motoring influence is that this also represents jobs in manufacturing plants, jobs in UK car dealerships, in garages and automotive suppliers – as well as the spin off effect of the jobs created to serve the expenditure from these jobs and so on. So what women buy (or not?) influences jobs and the businesses that do best and so on.

At FOXY Lady Drivers Club we feel the female shopping effect particularly strongly when it comes to buying garage services today. Like the many cars women are increasingly buying online (rather than going to unfriendly garages/car dealerships) an increasing number of busy females are shopping for MOT’s, car servicing and both mechanical & bodywork repairs online, often at night, for the family fleet. Even if those women then delegate the test drive and/or garage visit to a male (that’s another story for another blog…).

3) Is our fantastic motor industry as good as it could be?

Let’s look at the key statistics taken from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) excellent Facts Guide (2015).

+ The UK automotive industry turnover was a cool £69.5 billion in 2015
+ There are more than 32 million cars on our roads
+ More than 1.5 million cars were built in the UK in 2014
+ 2.47 million new cars were first registered in 2014
+ Nearly 800,000 individuals are employed in the UK automotive industry
+ 7 out of 10 F1 teams are based in the UK
+ 80% of the world’s largest automotive suppliers are based in the UK

Impressive figures for sure but let’s remember – this is the industry that we women are paying our fair share towards and much as I’d love to carry on crowing about it, I can’t because it doesn’t represent our female needs. But it should.

In a nutshell this industry needs to be a lot more female friendly than it is. Too many women prefer visiting dentists than garages. Recent research** suggests 90% of a Mumsnet and Reevoo female sample would not go car shopping without a man and women are three times more likely to report an ‘awful’ than ‘excellent’ experience in a dealership.

How can this be good enough for such important customers I have to ask?

**See Different Spin research.

Don’t you think we women deserve better than this guys, when you see why we should matter so much more to you?

4) The missing female industry talent

Whilst it’s International Women’s Day and a chance to celebrate our female influence in the automotive industry I’m sad to end this blog on a negative note, although this can become a future positive given genuine intent.

In a recent film project involving ITN, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) suggests that a woeful 2% of jobs in this industry are occupied by women. I was horrified and have questioned this. Can it possibly be so low?

Accurate or not, diversity needs to be a top level strategic Board agenda objective and reported on annually by both the SMMT and the RMI (Retail Motor Industry Federation) about their respective memberships. We should surely benchmark best gender practice wherever we find it, to encourage the many laggards here to get their act together, once and for all, to represent female customers (and future employees) in the Boardroom. Only then will the ambitious female talent pipeline have somewhere appealing to head for in this industry rather than the many more female friendly career destinations we compete with.

5) Quotas are needed in the motor industry

I suggest we measure this gender outcome in future International Women’s Days to come. Quite frankly I’m not interested in Lord Davies’ token 25% gender targets now. We’re too far behind to follow his footsteps gently. We need an urgent and determined stride towards the only gender metric that really matters – 50:50. And we’re SO far away from this goal in the UK automotive industry that I can’t see us getting there without QUOTAS.

If I’m wrong, and I’d love to be, pray tell me how come waiting for the female creme de la creme to rise to the top of the automotive industry naturally hasn’t happened to date? And why it would do in future without benchmark quotas to meet? It certainly isn’t because we aren’t good enough.

If you are against quotas (as I was originally) please work out how long it’ll take to be fair to female employees and customers if we don’t impose female quotas? But don’t tell me you would only want to be chosen ‘for being the best’ because you aren’t even in the final selection process as is…

How can 2% of jobs allocated to women in any industry be fair enough or suggest that any women who were chosen in a future quota aren’t good enough (or even the best) to too many male Board members who clearly don’t want any sitting at their top table?

As I see it, the time is right for gender quotas in the automotive industry and not just in the UK one either. I don’t see the industry has a choice unless women continue to let it get away with this any longer.

By all means tell me what you think via Twitter @FOXYSteph or info@foxyladydrivers.com.

And if any automotive businesses would like my help to get on the female radar ahead of others, be sure to get in touch with me via my personal website.


NB: Our country earns a similar amount of motoring-related tax as it spends on defence, and twice as much as we spend on education it seems. I also wish more women voted hence my support for the Women’s Equality Party.

The gender pay gap in 2015

career_ladderPaying people unequally for equal or similar work has been illegal for over 40 years yet we still hear excuses for gender pay gaps.

We’re told this represents the difference between men and women’s average salaries, reflecting the types of jobs women ‘tend’ to enter & the levels of seniority they reach.

But I wonder if women would ‘tend’ to enter these types of jobs as much if they were given a better choice, or if more men took on more family responsibilities?

Where we’re at in 2015

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan reminds us that…

“100 years on from the Suffragette movement, we still don’t have gender equality in every aspect of our society.”

And Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Management Institute Ann Francke said:

“One of the biggest drivers of gender pay discrepancy, especially at senior levels, is the bonus gap. Bonuses are also where gender bias can creep in easily as they are amongst the least transparent forms of pay.

There’s a tendency to reward those in our own image or to think that because men may be the ‘main breadwinners’ they deserve higher bonuses. And men often negotiate harder or trumpet their achievements more readily.”

Let’s look at this Government’s record…

The government can legitimately claim credit for
+ hitting the female Director target of 25 per cent (FTSE 100 companies)
+ more women-led businesses than ever before
+ increasing the number of majority women-led SMEs to around 1 million (20%) in 2014, by some 170,000 from 2010
+ virtually eliminating the gender pay gap among full-time workers under 40
+ some 233,000 women starting an apprenticeship
+ giving 285,000 couples per year access to shared parental leave
+ introducing 30 hours of free childcare
+ giving 20.6 million employees the ability to benefit from flexible working
+ rolling out a new careers service showing schoolgirls that no profession is off limits

New Measures to eliminate the Gender Pay Gap

In July, the Prime Minister announced plans to end the gender pay gap in a generation and the government is now pledging to:
+ force larger employers to publish information about any bonuses as part of their gender pay gap reporting
+ extend gender pay gap reporting beyond private and voluntary sector employers to include the public sector
+ eliminate all single gender Boards in the FTSE 350

We await new regulations addressing these areas following a recent consultation asking employers and employees to say how, when and where this data should be published.

Women On Boards progress

Earlier this year, the UK hit the 25% target for Women on Boards set by Lord Davies and supported by the government back in 2011.

Lord Davies is now preparing to release his final report on women on boards, which will outline his recommendations.

We’d like this to recommend fifty:fifty for our gender ambition, recognising that Female Executive Directors are the preferred way forward as they are more likely to be full time employees, informed by, and therefore able to influence internal business culture, whereas NEDs are usually temporary and part time appointments without that inside knowledge or experience.

Yes we’re clearly on the right track now but we’ve still got a long way to go before women can feel fairly represented in all areas. Including politics of course.

NB: The new Women’s Equality Party is taking on BIG issues with women’s best interests at heart. You can find out more here and if you feel strongly, as I do, that women need their own representation please join #WE to nudge female progress along in all areas.


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…