Every five years or so I review FOXY’s Motoring Manifesto and I’m now revisiting the last one, written in 2014.
This time I’m delighted to note the remarkable progress made in motorsports and to do with gender pay so we’re now seeing more women taking their rightful roles – despite this remaining, in too many areas still, a male dominated automotive industry.
Perceptions of Women and Automotive
In today’s society perceptions are what matter, right or wrong.
“The automotive industry is too blokey” therefore it is…
“Women need to shop around for a cheap car or garage deal” regardless of the risk.
“ Men are faster drivers than women.”
“Customer service is best measured by he/she who answers the phone or in reception.”
“Women know/care less about motoring safety and car maintenance than men”.
Clearly most of these reported perceptions are total nonsense and a large pinch of reasonableness is needed to sweeten the gender pill.
Much better surely to say ‘some motoring businesses are better and/or more female friendly’ ‘some women can drive as fast (and often better) than some men’ and ‘some women delegate their motoring safety to men… who may well know as little about this as they do’.
But I’m not sure how many motorists really do appreciate the perils of choosing a local garage by virtue of convenience or a friendly voice/face, in an unregulated industry. What surely matters more is the demonstrable/proven ability of the individuals repairing or selling cars to do the job?
So for the time being, we’re concentrating on the licensed ability of individuals to do the job as a minimum. Once minimum standards are regulated here, businesses can then compete fairly and concentrate on making everyone feel welcome in this industry, as customers, employees or new business owners.
I’m going to carry on encouraging Club members to visit the best (FOXY Lady Approved) garages more often because of their personal safety and trust issues. I’m going to help Club members feel confident enough to go shopping and buy a new car on their own, without the perceived need to take a man with them for support.
FOXY’s Female Motoring Manifesto
So, based on a better knowledge of female (largely unimpressed) motoring perceptions than most, here is FOXY’s updated Female Motoring Manifesto to recognise, celebrate and nudge along the necessary changes we still need to make a difference in future with women in mind.
1. MORE WOMEN IN MOTORSPORT
There are lots of fast women racers who cannot show off their talents because available sponsorship money goes first to young men. But who might have anticipated the explosion of women playing football, cricket and rugby to rival the men’s game?
And whilst the job has only just started, we must celebrate the new W Series who got this message loud and clear – for providing international women drivers with the free media platform to show the world they can compete with men in future.
I predicted this’d be a PR scoop in 2014 and I was right.
Looking ahead at a time of such uncertainty, and assuming Brexit goes ahead at the end of October, we’d hope that the huge motorsports industry (for the UK economy) will address the opportunities to extend their career appeal and bring more women into each and every aspect of this exciting sector.
2. MORE WOMEN IN EXECUTIVE ROLES IN AUTOMOTIVE BOARDROOMS
The automotive industry is still too slow to recognise the business case for more females in UK automotive boardrooms. Whenever I mention this, I am told of a few female names that are bucking the trend but there still aren’t enough women in genuinely senior C-Suite influential or agenda-setting roles.
Despite the recent arrival of new Gender Pay Gap legislation and the UK Automotive 30% Club we still see a tendency for many businesses to recruit new females in at the bottom, as apprentices and graduates perhaps, rather than at the top where female Executive Directors are needed.
More Executive Directors* are required to ensure the business is genuinely a female friendly employer from the top down, and to be role models for the aspiring female talent pipeline.
My advice to worried male CEOs here? Just make sure you’re seeing talented women at ALL interview tables and actively seeking the best talent from within AND outside the automotive industry. Then it’s easy to choose the best candidate for the job. Given the chance ambitious women will rise to the challenge once this discipline is in place.
*Executive Directors are better placed to do this than Non Executive Directors with less internal experience of the business culture.
3. MORE WOMEN IN CAR SALES
There are sound business reasons for having more females selling cars. Women don’t come with an Arthur Daley reputation, they understand what we females want and they may well be more honest/better informed than some male salesmen. Give women a try.
An added reason is that many men like them because they don’t have to pretend they’re petrolheads or that they understand the male jargon being used…
4. MORE COMMUNITY GARAGE/CAR MAINTENANCE EVENTS
Many women would like to know more about their car care. By organising regular ladies DIY maintenance evenings this is an excellent way for local businesses to demonstrate their community spirit and establish a relationship of trust with local ladies.
We continue to promote ladies evenings at the Club website but these events seem to be getting rarer…
5. CLEANER GARAGES, ESPECIALLY WASHROOMS
There is no excuse for dirty garages today whether these are independently owned or franchised. As a minimum, customers should be able to rely on a clean washroom that is regularly inspected/cleaned, not one that is all too evidently shared with grubby mechanics or being used as a wash up kitchen facility by staff.
6. ALL INDUSTRY STAFF TO BE LICENSED
All motorists should be able to rely on
- mechanical car repairs by a licensed technician who either works in a garage/dealership or operates as a mobile service.
- professional advice and ethical behaviour in car showrooms/online car sales providers.
- insurer approved accident repairs.
- sufficient qualified technicians to repair the increasing number of electric cars/autonomous cars on our roads.
As I see it, all staff should be licensed to practise their trade in the automotive industry. The IMI operates the scheme to do this at the IMI Professional Register. All that is then needed is for the industry to unify behind and monitor these standards.
7. CAR MAINTENANCE ISN’T JUST FOR MEN
This is a wake up call for women who either think that a nearly new car doesn’t need maintaining before its first MOT or that the condition of the car they drive is up to their husband, partner or Dad.
A new car might need new tyres to be safe on the road before its first MOT for example.
When the Police stop motorists because their car has no tax, MOT or illegal tyres, the driver gets the fine, the points and the insured gets the higher insurance premium.
Put more bluntly, if a car causes an accident and is then proven to be unroadworthy through negligence, nobody else is to blame but the driver.
8. HAGGLE FREE NEW CAR PRICES
It is patently unfair that she/he who knows when to haggle gets a cheaper car deal than she/he who doesn’t. And it’s plain silly to imagine that a man can negotiate a better deal than we professional high street shoppers. But when is a good discount worth having? Or does it disguise a fault you haven’t spotted for now?
We’ve also seen the rise of personal contract plans allowing motorists to fix a monthly payment for their motoring. But these aren’t always the nirvana they seem. You never own the car and heaven forbid you might need to cancel the contract mid term. Or drive more miles than your annual allowance…
It’s time for more openness, ethics and honesty in all aspects of car sales.
Less ‘smoke and mirror’ sales tactics please – all they do is confuse the vulnerable with car finance options.
9. MORE WOMEN IN GARAGE AND REPAIR WORKSHOPS
If she wants to be a mechanic give her a chance.
Make her feel welcome when she asks about jobs. Might you have a vacancy for a Saturday role to check her out?
Why not consider mechanically-minded Mums as future MOT testers and explain this role and the necessary training to her.
Maybe you could look for and encourage female apprentices via your local school.
NB: Young females are outperforming young males in Science and Maths at GCSE levels.
Women can use diagnostic tools too and anecdotally (exceptions apply) many young females seem more conscientious than their male counterparts when it comes to completing task schedules.
Finally we’re often better organised in my experience.
10. MAKE TEST DRIVES MORE FUN
Too many females still delegate test drives to men.
Too many females buy the same car make again simply because of the familiarity of the drive.
Too many solo women lack the confidence to take a test drive with a solo man.
Too many Mums are distracted by children.
As a result of these factors, too many cars are sold that aren’t necessarily the best buy for her.
Whereas a fun test drive, with children catered for where appropriate and a female member of staff on hand to ensure this is the right car for her and to accompany her on a test drive, should be a distinguishing feature of any female friendly car buying experience.
Automotive businesses that, hand on heart, tick all these boxes deserve recognition for getting this right.
But there aren’t many on FOXY’s female friendly approved employer checklist as yet.
As such, it’s important that automotive businesses are willing to keep learning in this area, stay flexible enough to implement the necessary change to become more female friendly and have measurable goals to monitor their progress.
Hopefully FOXY’s Top Ten Motoring Manifesto will encourage more automotive businesses to review their strategic gender agenda to see how they might become a more female friendly garage or car dealer in future. This matters because the increasing numbers of independent, wealthy and influential women drivers, who are rarely as impressed by local motoring services as they should be, are now shopping for independently-accredited female friendly garages and dealers to become their local and online female choice.
written by Steph Savill, MBA, FIMI, FCIM
Founder of FOXY Lady Drivers Club.
More About This Motoring Manifesto
Automotive businesses that’d like to be more female friendly can consult Steph Savill direct in this capacity.
The UK’s most female friendly garages and dealers can differentiate themselves among local women drivers where eligible to be FOXY Lady Approved.
Women who’d like to join the UK’s only motoring club for women drivers, to enjoy exclusive motoring offers, VIP services and support can do so here.