Understanding the experience of women working in the automotive industry, and why it’s important, not just for International Women’s Day, but for the future.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on inspiring women in the automotive industry, including Lorraine Richards, our dealer partner from Crompton Way Motors.
Can you tell us about the women who inspire you, your biggest role models?
Prior to working in the automotive industry - a male-dominated space - I spent 27 years in the travel sector, so I’ve experienced working in primarily female-dominated trades too. My Regional Sales Manager at the time was and continues to be a huge inspiration due to her fantastic managerial style, as I always found it to be firm but fair. She was keen on motivating others, and had a great sense of humor too, so this very much influenced my own managerial style and how I now develop my own teams.
In terms of the automotive industry, I’ve met many inspirational women over the past eight years, but the two that I really admire for making their mark are Rebecca Clark, UK Sales Director at Auto Trader UK, and Le Etta Pearce, CEO at Dealer Auction.
What made you choose to work in the automotive industry?
After having my third child, I decided it was time for a change of direction. I’ve always been passionate about cars, so it made sense for me to join my husband Paul, to help run our family business, Crompton Way Motors. Together, we’ve been able to move our business forward, whilst also having the flexibility to manage home-life, so it was the perfect decision.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges today facing women within this industry?
I feel there’s still an unjust imbalance in the automotive industry, as there remains to be a challenge for women to affirm themselves as equal candidates for roles. Whilst we’ve seen some improvements, there’s still somewhat of an expectation for us to prove that we’re capable of not only surviving but also excelling within our roles, so further work is needed to better overcome such gender bias.
In your opinion, why is it important that we encourage women within the automotive industry, and bring new women in?
Hopefully, our future generation of women will feel encouraged and empowered to choose a career in the automotive industry. Having a female point of view, as well as a male’s, is truly invaluable. In my own experience, the difference in opinion between Paul and I really helps to create better outcomes. What’s more, having women colleagues can create a more comfortable space for women drivers visiting the dealership, so it creates a better experience for them too.
Is there an important piece of advice that you’d give to a woman in the automotive industry who's thinking of progressing her career, or to a woman thinking of starting a new career in the industry?
My advice would be to look at the automotive industry as a viable, exciting, and interesting place in which to start or further your career. Slowly, the industry is becoming less male-orientated, and many roles that enable women to join, progress and make a difference are now becoming more readily available.