What shocks enough in today’s society to bring about change?
I hear so many stories from female colleagues who have experienced gender bias. I myself have been to events with my partner and other men have asked me when I get introduced, ‘so do you stay at home then?’ – It is instantly assumed that women do not have an equally successful career as their partner/husband.
This is just one of the examples that women can encounter in the workplace. Ill-judged comments or questions that are gender biased and serve to undermine rather than raise the female profile. These attitudes have an undeniable effect on the perception of you and your role, I know I’ve experienced it, and so do many other women.
We need to bring confidence back to women. A confidence to not feel a need to apologise for status and ability, the presence or non-presence of children in our lives, or apologise simply for being a woman.
As HR director responsible for more than 3,500 employees at Jardine Motors Group I have the opportunity to inspire and encourage the entire work force and promote equality. A diverse working environment is one that thrives. It is based on equality regardless of sex, religion or ethnicity – everyone wants to feel like they have a voice in the business in which they work; a voice that is not only heard, but respected.
There is a general consensus that there is a long way to go for women to achieve true equality. I am part of the 30% Club, a fantastic organisation with one clear, ambitious aim; to have 30% of key leadership roles in business filled by women by 2030. Although this is a game-changing aim, society should still be shocked that we don’t expect that number to be 50% in today’s modern age.
The success of this movement relies on our male colleagues. They have a vital part to play to encourage self-belief in their female counterparts, and it is a change in male perception that we need to see come from the top-down in business. I am lucky to work with some fantastic people both male and female, who share this belief. Our CEO, Neil Williamson, is a huge support and regularly talks at events alongside me that aim to inspire women in the workplace and acts as a key driver to help women fulfil their full potential within the business.
My personal ambition is to break down the barriers of the automotive industry, and introduce it as a vibrant, fast-paced industry to work in to women who before, would never even consider it as a career path.
At Jardine Motors Group we recently researched outside attitudes toward the industry and there was sadly a lack of awareness around the wide-ranging career opportunities available at every level and skill-set within the automotive world. In fact, less than one in four women (22%) said it didn’t even occur to them that there would be relevant jobs available to them.
I see this as an exciting challenge. To bring a host of new opportunities to women, and to encourage a traditionally masculine industry to help us push toward our 30/30 goal.
What I have enjoyed through my years working my way up the ladder with various different companies is that it was never just a job. That is what impressed me most with when I joined Jardine Motors Group. The focus here is on helping to shape and build individual careers and to mark a clear line of progression for those hungry enough to make it to the top. An incredible 85% of women already in our industry would recommend a job in the sector to a friend – so definitely one to consider.
Whilst companies and organisations need to focus on targets to achieve greater diversity in terms of talent, there also has to be a fundamental change of behaviour if we are ever going to inspire a gender revolution.
What I want is for women to live without fear and to be bold. To help them learn how to deal with problems such as being called ‘difficult’, a ‘bitch’ or ‘hormonal’ when we exert authority and show determination. This is not about political correctness, it is about respect, fair values and removing some of that bias that seems to perpetuate, whether you are an intern or a CEO.
For more information about Jardine Motors Group please visit www.jardinemotors.co.uk
Clare Martin is the Group HR Director at Jardine Motor Group.