Automotive sector

Video: Heycar urges women to take on ‘riskier’ roles in auto industry

Women should run for leadership positions and help other women do so to help break down stigma in the automotive sector.

This was one of the key messages from the Heycar ‘Break the Bias’ roundtable, held in recognition of the 2022 International Women’s Day theme, with influential women in the automotive sector.

Men currently hold most positions on automotive industry boards, with women making up just 10% of the executive-level workforce and 20% overall, according to a Deloitte study.

Heycar said a more diverse workforce will help make car dealerships more inclusive for customers and address the skills shortage the industry is facing as it transitions to electric vehicles (EVs). with the government banning in 2030 the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans.

These are points raised by the founder of the Automotive 30% Club during her panel discussion at AM Live 2021 and during a recent AM News Podcast chat with the President of the Automotive Industry Institute (IMI), Professor Jim Saker, who is currently leading the IMI Diversity Task Force investigation into D&I in the sector.

The Heycar event featured an all-female panel of experts consisting of: Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles; Katie Black, co-head of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV); Kirsten Stagg, Head of Marketing at Skoda UK; and Moyosola Fujamade, National Lease Relations Manager at Kia UK, with Heycar Marketing Director Maren Coleman as moderator.

Howarth said: “Women are slightly more reserved in terms of willingness to take on these more risky positions. We have to be braver, take risks.

“We have to support each other and support each other. If there’s a situation where a woman on your team might be less likely to take on this riskier job, but you know she might, why not just contact her and say, “Have you thought to offer you for that?'”

She said the increase in flexible working due to the COVID-19 pandemic will help enable more women to take on some of the riskiest jobs.

Heycar said support from male colleagues can also be instrumental in women’s careers.

Fujamade said, “You have to be prepared to put yourself forward to some degree. You might aspire to be a director, but if you never tell anyone, no one will open those doors for you.

Maren Coleman, Marketing Director at Heycar, said: “Our panelists have all carved out fantastic careers in the automotive industry and show what can be achieved.

“But our discussion also highlights the need for greater diversity in the automotive workforce.

“Breaking down bias is something we all need to consider and work on every day – both personally and collectively as businesses.”