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Jardine Motors Group is passionate about dispelling preconceptions around working in the automotive industry and wants to be a leading employer for gender diversity.
Clare Martin, Group HR Director, joined three years ago and says one of her missions was to change the image of the industry. She recognises that there is still a lot to do, but says progress has definitely been made. The company employs around 3,600 people of whom 28% are female. Three years ago just 7% of management roles were held by women. Now that figure is 21%. The aim is to have 28% of women in management roles by the end of 2018. “We are really proud of the progress we have made so far,” says Clare [pictured].
Research on women in other industries shows the main thing that dissuades them from considering a career in the automotive industry is a perception that they couldn’t have a career in it, the working hours and its commission-based scheme. Jardine Motors has addressed all of these issues.
On working hours it has switched to a five-day working week in sales from a six or six and half day model. It has also increased maternity and paternity pay and made it easier for parents to return from leave and changed its commission scheme, raising the basic salary before commission from £14.5K to £18K. The company also offers a good benefits package, including 33 days annual leave for all.
Eighteen months ago it set up a training programme – the Academy – for sales and customer service advisers targeted at 20 to 35 year olds. The aim is for it to be 50/50 male to female. They have had five cohorts so far and the split is 60/40 male to female, although two cohorts have been entirely female. Clare says it is not just about reaching targets. Everyone who is on the scheme is there on merit.
Even with the change to a five-day week, Clare recognises that there are still issues for women with caring responsibilities as workers are still required to cover weekends on a rotational basis. She says the company is looking at varying the kind of shifts they offer, including bringing in shorter shifts that fit the school day.
Moreover, it is trialling more homeworking to deal with online enquiries, for example, and exploring how to support managers to make flexible working work.
Nevertheless, Clare realises that women still tend to be found in support functions rather than in technician roles which have a clearer career pathway to senior management.
A big part of the attraction equation involves outreach to girls to change their impression of jobs in the industry. Jardine Motors is a member of the Speakers for Schools programme and has an executive shadowing programme with a Manchester school.
“The more we can reach out to girls the more we can start a wave of change,” says Clare. Jardine Motors is also a member of Women Ahead, a cross sectoral mentoring scheme. Clare is one of the mentors and some of her male colleagues also mentor people outside the industry. “It’s a groundbreaking way of understanding the challenges women face,” she says.
The company is also a member of several other groups aimed at supporting and promoting women within the industry, including Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign in retail which aims to boost the number of female leaders in the industry. It has also organised a bring your daughter to work day so girls can get a better idea of what their parents do and what the industry they work in is about.
All of this has the full support of the board who are all actively involved in initiatives such as speaking at schools.
Jardine Motors has also recently undergone a brand refresh focusing on work life balance and is doing communications work on childcare vouchers after research showed that they were overwhelmingly being claimed by women despite dads also being eligible.
“We have had good wins, but we are still banging the drum for change,” says Clare. “We can’t take our foot off the gas. Change will be incremental. I am very passionate but realistic. We are undoing years and years of a legacy business which has been about men.”