Garage owner Hayley Pells won a recent Chwarae Teg Exemplar Employer Award so we wanted her to tell us how her business Avia Speed Shop in Bridgend truly celebrates diversity. As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot more to this award than simply putting spanners into the hands of women.
Ground breaking Welsh charity Chwarae Teg actively promotes the economic development of women in business helping them progress in work and tackle any specific problems head on.
As such it is ideally placed to recognise and promote those employers that are getting gender issues right in the workplace, to inspire other businesses in Wales.
As a female business owner who continues to tackle the challenges of balancing demanding life and garage issues, Hayley recruits her support team on the basis of talent, regardless of gender, reaping rich rewards for the incredibly diverse team she’s a part of. And whilst her attitude and approach clearly works brilliantly in a small business, we can see how this flexible formula could just as well apply within a larger organisation.
So we asked Hayley to tell us more about the challenges her business faces and to illustrate this with some real life examples we can all identify with. Here’s what she told us.
“The Chwarae Award was made after an examination of our garage business which took nearly two years! Just imagine the potential disruption to a small, hectic and deadline-driven business like ours. Unsurprisingly we are the only vehicle garage that has this award, which makes it all the more sweet.
“The garage has a 50:50 gender split of men and women in qualified technical roles. As a team we deal with terminal illness, parental, learner and carer responsibilities alongside the daily MOTs, car servicing and mechanical repairs our customers require. This combination of personal challenges really does put the perceived hurdle of being female in this industry well into perspective!
“Clearly an award of this nature helps me massively to raise awareness of garage careers for women in what is perceived to be a masculine industry but the truth is that we all roll our sleeves up on a daily basis, treat each other as equals and get on with the job, helping each other as we go and enjoying what we achieve together.
“For example, one of our staff completed their education in Welsh but then had to switch to English for their apprenticeship. This was a remarkable hurdle but with team support, we got there in the end.
“Another member of staff had to take an unexpected 10 months off. Our business framework certainly needed to be as robust as it turned out to be, to weather that particular storm.
“With the sensitive nature of some of the challenges we all face, we agreed with Chwarae Teg that the PR angle of this award would be to focus on the element of women in technical roles within the workshop. Knowing how fantastically unrepresented women are in the garage sector this is an area in which we work hard within our community. For example, to raise awareness of the careers that too many women are missing out on in Wales I work with Careers Wales and charities by giving motorist demonstrations and talks about jobs within the industry, particularly flagging up the career pathways to the trade.
“I also believe in the need for employers to up their game in terms of measurable quality standards in an ever-changing industry. We share FOXY Lady Approved scheme goals here working alongside each other to show women in Wales that they have a choice of garages as both customers and employees – there are businesses and employers that are going that extra mile with them in mind. To illustrate this, we’ve recently been approved by The Motor Ombudsman to operate to ‘Service & Repair’ Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Code of Practice standards which we do on behalf of our customers and staff with pride.
Thank you for this Hayley. Well done on achieving this important employer award and explaining to us how high the bar is for quality standards in your business and how you continue to achieve such success within your fair and diverse employment environment.