SIMI: 71pc of women would recommend career in motor industry

A new survey carried out by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) found that 71 per cent of women would recommend a career in the motor industry to others.

The survey of 140 women from across the industry was carried out as part of SIMI’s on-going drive to encourage more women to join what has traditionally been viewed as a male-dominated sector, and coincided with the 7th Annual Women@SIMI event in conjunction with its sponsor Bank of Ireland.

The event, which took place recently at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin, featured an impressive panel of guest speakers: Anne Cassin, Master of Ceremonies; Lucy Gaffney, current Director of Digicel Group; and Sharon Keegan, founder of female-led athleisure wear company Peachy Lean.

The survey found a positive outcome to change within the Industry, where 67 per cent of respondents believe that women have become more visible in the industry in recent years, while the same number also said that their companies had increased the number of new female employees recruited over the last three years.

However, some notable statistics emerged, showing over half of survey respondents believe that women are under-represented in their organisation, while 40 per cent said that women did not have the same opportunities for advancement as men in their companies. With just 26 per cent of survey respondents identified themselves as being at director/board level in their organisation. This is lower than the national average of 30 per cent.

When asked about what factors could help progress women in leadership roles, a change in cultural perception of the automotive industry overall came out on top, followed by a more flexible working environment, greater management support, leadership skills/training along with mentorship.

Pictured l-r: Sharon Keegan, founder Peachy Lean; Lucy Gaffney, director Digicel Group; Derek McDermott, managing director of Bank of Ireland Finance; Gillian Fanning, SIMI president; and Anne Cassin, master of ceremonies.

Welcoming attendees to the event, which is open to all genders working in the industry, Gillian Fanning, SIMI president and first female president in the society’s 100 years, said: “Research has shown that female employees contribute significantly to the long-term success of any company, yet the motor industry is lagging behind many other sectors in terms of gender diversity.

“While our research found that the majority of female employees have seen positive changes for women over the past three years, under-representation of women across the board, and particularly at senior levels, is clearly evident.

“However, what’s encouraging is the fact that almost 86 per cent of respondents feel supported by their male colleagues and this support is critical to the success of gender diversity initiatives. While there’s no doubt that progress has taken place over recent years, with greater visibility of women than ever in the industry, we still have a long way to go in terms of addressing the inherent gender imbalance.”

Fanning added: “We must continue to stress that this is not just an industry for men and highlight the diverse range of roles and opportunities on offer for women if we are to reap the proven rewards of increased female participation in our sector.

“We need to plan for the future – a future that will hopefully mean a greater number of women joining us and more women taking on senior roles and making strategic decisions for their companies.”

Derek McDermott, managing director of Bank of Ireland Finance commented: “In both the banking industry and motor industry, we have a way to go in the whole area of gender diversity. We need to ensure that there are meaningful careers for women across our organisations and while we have made good progress, there is so much more to do.

“Bank of Ireland is proud to be a sponsor of this event – a tangible demonstration of the fact that we take the issue of gender diversity very seriously.”