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Women in automotive – is equality driving in the right direction?

Three years ago, ‘Women with Drive’ was launched to celebrate the work of women in the automotive industry, and this year Grosvenor Leasing was thrilled that Mary Dopson-Taylor, customer services director, was a shortlisted finalist for the Barbara Cox ‘Women with Drive’ award.

Women with Drive is an inclusive movement built to support female achievements, aspirations and successes, with a ‘think big’ attitude and a space for every voice.

Since its launch on International Women’s Day 2016, there have been regular events championing equality and ambition both in and out of the workplace.

Its launch in 2016 coincided with the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review which set FTSE 350 businesses a target of having 33% of all board and senior leadership positions held by women by the end of 2020. 

Recent statistics show that if progress matches the same gains made over the last three years, then FTSE 100 companies are on track to meet the 2020 target.

Yet, while the number of women on boards has increased to 25.5% in FTSE 350 companies, around 40% of all appointments need to go to women in the next 2 years for the FTSE 350 to achieve the 33% target.

A report by Cranfield University’s School of Management questions whether this has become a ‘tick-box’ exercise to meet targets, revealing worrying trends implying that companies are appointing women for symbolic value. 

Their Female FTSE Board Report reveals that women serve shorter tenures than men (on average, female non-executive directors serve 3.8 years – with men serving 5 years) and are less likely to get promoted into senior roles.

But Government targets aside, having more women in senior roles is good for business performance. Cranfield University used data from FTSE 100 firms for the period 2003-2013 and found that firms which showed greater gender diversity are more profitable and that those with women on their board enjoyed higher market valuations.

According to Mary Dopson-Taylor, the value that women bring to the workplace needs to be recognised, and the fleet and automotive sector must change its attitudes towards women.

“If you attend the Fleet News awards at the Grosvenor House hotel and stand on the balcony looking down at the 1000 or so guests, it’s a sea of men in black ties,” says Mary.

“While I appreciate this is very anecdotal, I feel it’s a pretty fair reflection of the reality that not enough women hold senior management and director positions in our sector.

“At the Grosvenor Group, I’m pleased that we have always bucked the trend by having a good balance between male and female directors and senior managers, and in my mind it’s no coincidence that we have continued to innovate, flourish and grow due to the tremendous equality we have across 
the business.

“If I look at my personal journey, I’ve witnessed Grosvenor recruiting and promoting based on ability and results, not gender, having joined 22 years ago and working my way up 
from a junior telesales position to my role today as customer services director.

“I’m also pleased to meet an increasing number of talented female fleet managers, and other senior women throughout 
our sector.

“However, as an industry, automotive and fleet still has a long way to go.”

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Easi-Fleet Management

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Accident Management

Fuel Cards

Light Commercial Vehicle Contract Hire

Driver Care – Risk Management

Public Sector

Fleet Consultancy

Grey Fleet Management

Online Reporting

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