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International Women’s Day – 8 March 2024 – has been embraced by many across the fleet and automotive sectors. Natalie Middleton rounds up some of the industry initiatives.

EV evolution could be turning point for women in automotive industry – Allstar says

Janis Prescott, head of EV marketing at Fleetcor

Janis Prescott, head of EV marketing at Fleetcor – which includes Allstar – has said that electric vehicles could spur greater diversity in the automotive sector.

Prescott said the auto industry as a whole has seen key turning points as it’s evolved from diesel to electric – but there’s also been an evolution in the way women perceive the industry.

“This is because EVs – and presumably, autonomous cars further into the future – move the conversation onto how cars are used more than the cliched ‘pub chat’ of what’s ‘under the bonnet’. EVs can be a great leveller to tempt more women into the industry as they offer a product that isn’t defined by its engine and the need, therefore, to have an interest in engineering: batteries are much more anonymous power sources.”

Prescott’s full comment is here.

All-female car leasing team bucks trend on workplace gender divides

The all-female team at the North Midlands office of Select Car Leasing

The exclusively female team at the North Midlands office of Select Car Leasing have shared their experiences on working in an industry that’s traditionally perceived to be male-dominated.

Formerly ‘Freedom Vehicle Contracts’ before being welcomed into the Select family earlier this year, Select Car Leasing Office North Midlands is headquartered in Codsall, near Wolverhampton.

It comprises six members of staff in sales, servicing and admin positions. All identify as female, barring co-founder Chris Hart, who set up Freedom with wife Caroline Hart, director, back in 1998.

The team have shared their thoughts on whether the vehicle leasing sphere is as ‘male-dominated’ as research suggests, the strengths of an all-female team and a palpable change in the auto sector attitude towards women employees. The full article is here.

Government urged to ensure women not left behind on road to electrification

The team

On International Women’s Day 2024, is calling on the Government to step up and ensure that women don’t get left behind on the road to electrification.

A UK-wide survey conducted by the female-fronted website and the AA with female drivers reveals fewer than one in 10 women say their next car will be electric, citing lack of confidence as a key barrier.

The study of 3,712 female drivers found nearly two-thirds (61%) say they feel less confident at the prospect of driving an EV than they do a petrol or diesel car.

Just 6% of women feel they have the knowledge and confidence to buy a used electric car, whilst two-thirds of women say they find the prospect of charging an EV confusing.

The results show a significant decline in general attitudes from women towards electric cars over the last two years – but two-thirds say the opportunity to take an extended test drive would boost their confidence. is calling for a government-led campaign to help alleviate the genuine concerns women have about EVs. Additionally, it is urging the automotive industry to come together and offer women the opportunity to take extended test drives of electric cars to bolster their confidence – in a pressure-free environment away from the dealership.

Ginny Buckley, founder and CEO of, said: “Women are a key influence in car sales, often having the final say in the choice of model –and we know that 48% of licence holders are female – so bringing them along on this journey is key, not only for the air we breathe in our towns and cities, but also for the wider economy and the UK automotive industry.”

Volkswagen Group renews commitment to inclusion on International Women’s Day

Volkswagen Group has marked International Women’s Day 2024 with a range of activities

Volkswagen Group is marking Friday’s International Women’s Day 2024 with activities to educate employees, celebrate its DE&I journey so far, and by making further commitments to a more inclusive and equitable future.

Alex Smith, group MD, has renewed his membership as patron of the UK’s Automotive 30% Club, a network of over 70 automotive MDs and CEOs who have made a commitment to be inclusive leaders and build diverse gender-balanced businesses.

VWG has long been a part of the network, with Smith becoming the first patron and gold member back in 2022.

VWG’s commitment to gender balance and DE&I has seen it exceed and maintain its target to have at least 30% of women in senior leadership roles two years early. The aim now is to increase this further. Overall, the business has over 46% female representation.

In addition to renewing its Automotive 30% Club membership, Volkswagen Group’s ‘We are Driven Women’ Employee Network Group, one of six ENGs dedicated to supporting the organisation’s DE&I journey, held a number of events in the week of International Women’s Day.

These included sharing the team’s strategy and plans for 2024, a combined session with other ENGs to understand more about intersectionality, an overview on talent development initiatives, and a collection for Smart Works, a charity that supports women approaching job interviews with practical tools and clothing.

For IWD itself, VWG has held a webinar with guest speaker and business coach Debbie Hollingsworth, looking at behaviour styles and how individuals can fulfil their potential. All these activities are not only aimed at female staff, but also – importantly – their male and other colleagues who provide essential support as allies.

Sarah Cox-Thornley, head of marketing at Volkswagen UK and sponsor of the Driven Women ENG, said: “International Women’s Day is just one day, but one when we can pause to celebrate our female colleagues and allies from across the business who support our ongoing journey to inclusivity.”

Kia EV9 voted Supreme Winner of the Women’s Worldwide Car of the Year

The Kia EV9 has been named as the Supreme Winner of the Women’s Worldwide Car of the Year award

The Kia EV9 electric SUV has been declared the World’s Best Car for 2024 by the panel of journalists judging the Women’s Worldwide Car of the Year.

The announcement was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day – with the awards organisers saying the occasion not only empowers women but also acknowledges the connection between personal autonomy and automobiles in many countries.

For the awards, 75 motoring journalists from 52 nations tested numerous car models, thoroughly evaluating every aspect.

Among the 63 contenders, Kia’s flagship EV9 SUV – also the winner of the UK Car of the Year Awards for 2024 – was the winner of the SUV category in the awards.

The Kia battled it out with the other class winners – the Volvo EX30 (Family Car), BMW Series 5 (Large Car), Volkswagen Amarok (4×4 & pickup) and Aston Martin DB12 (Exclusive Car) – to take the overall title.

Judges were keen to point out that they do not select a ‘woman’s car’ because cars are not gender-specific, and added: “Beyond choosing the best cars of the year, our goal is also to give visibility to women in the automotive world and to contribute to making women’s voices heard on all continents because mobility for a woman means access to many personal and professional possibilities.”

Caura exposes gender bias in motor garage pricing and treatment

The Caura research reveals gender bias in motor garage pricing and treatment

Caura, the car management app, marked International Women’s Day by publishing research revealing a ‘pink pricing prejudice’.

Its blind survey of 100 garages has found women are charged 5% more than men for a vehicle service, even for the same car at the same garage.

During a wider YouGov poll, Caura found that 59% of women think garages for vehicle maintenance / servicing are more catered towards men than women, rising to 65% of 18- to 24-year-olds (both genders).

The YouGov survey of 4,000 UK men and women found nearly half (46%) of women have felt rushed to approve additional works and 45% said they were confused while doing it. However, it seems the confusion isn’t from a lack of understanding what the work was, as 83% of the women said they understood the language used when describing what their car needed in terms of maintenance – their concern lay more in the perception that garages may have intentionally obfuscated information and pressured them into making hasty decisions.

Caura said the research showed a systemic issue within the automotive sector that requires urgent attention.

Janice Pang, head of vehicle maintenance, said: “Cars don’t judge their drivers whether they’re male or female, so why should garages? A 1% increase in price [when looking at male versus female] in either gender swing is wrong, but when our research shows a 5% [on average] on like-for-like pricing, we were shocked by prejudice in pricing for women.”

Subaru (UK) and International Motors celebrate International Women’s Day

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Subaru (UK), which is part of International Motors, marked International Women’s Day with an event that included inspiring female guest speakers, networking opportunities and the inclusion and promotion of other local female-owned businesses.

Speaking at the organisation’s head office in Solihull were Birmingham-based Olympian and England Rugby player Heather Fisher along with filmmaker and mental health advocate Ella Greenwood, both of whom shared their own personal and inspirational stories and experiences with those in attendance.

International Motors Ltd (IML) currently employs 186 people, of which 55 are women, making up a 29.6% representation across the automotive organisation. This far exceeds the industry average, which according to SMMT figures published in November 2023 was just under 20%. A pledge from the Automotive Council was also announced last November, to increase the proportion of women in the industry to 30% by 2030. The brands operated by IML include Subaru (UK), Isuzu UK, GWM Ora and I.M Maps, the Mitsubishi Motors aftersales franchise.

Subaru (UK) recently announced the appointment of Lorraine Bishton, the UK brand’s first female managing director and also a significant member of the IML Senior Management Team. To further help commemorate the day, Subaru (UK) is celebrating the women of its dealer network across the brand’s social media channels.

Kia UK spotlights equality, diversity and inclusion for International Women’s Day

Kia UK has run a host of employee activities for International Women’s Day

Kia UK is continuing its efforts on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace with a host of employee activities for International Women’s Day and the theme #InspireInclusion.

The brand launched a new Inclusion Plan at the start of 2023 to cover leadership, recruitment, talent and support for employees with a focus on EDI. Part of this plan includes a partnership with Moving Ahead, to deliver inclusive leadership training for all staff; to tackle gender stereotypes, call out discrimination and draw attention to bias, among its key focuses.

Kia has further added to the Plan with a new Carer’s Policy that goes beyond the Carers Leave Act, which is to be legally introduced in April this year.

For IWD 2024, Kia UK invited guest speaker Beth Stallwood, head of programmes and cultural development at Moving Ahead, and an organisational culture consultant, facilitator and coach, to speak to staff at its headquarters in Walton-On-Thames.

Stallwood focused on how to make an organisation better, not categorising people into boxes, get people talking to one another to learn their different barriers and make things more accessible and inclusive for all by, for example, extending work done that benefits one group to another group. A key takeaway was that many policies and staff services are good for all, even if they had originally been developed for or by women.

Paul Philpott, president and CEO of Kia UK, said: “We strongly believe that fostering an equal, diverse and inclusive working culture strengthens our business. Employees want to feel heard and know that they have a voice.

“International Women’s Day may just be one day, but it highlights the important work going on every day to make our organisation even more inclusive. Today marks an excellent opportunity for the whole company to learn more and open discussions about our inclusive future.”

‘Be one of many’ campaign by Mercedes-Benz promotes equal opportunities for women

The ‘Be one of many’ campaign by Mercedes-Benz promotes equal opportunities for women

Mercedes-Benz has continued its ‘Be one of many’ campaign by providing portraits of three female personalities for International Women’s Day 2024.

Building on its 2023 campaign, the latest global initiative gives an insight into the lives of entrepreneur Aya Jaff, head chef Dalad Kambhu and Mercedes-Benz manager Alexandra Straßburger.

It shows how they have made their own ways in supposedly “male professions” with their skills and personalities. The campaign visualises the main message as inspiration: traditional role models should finally be a thing of the past so that women can realise their dreams and follow their own calling on an equal footing.

The campaign will be run throughout the year as a commitment to equal opportunities.

Sparshatt shares stories from women across business  

Sparshatt has delved into the stories of three women from within its workforce

A Kent commercial vehicle dealership is delving into the stories of three women from within its workforce to take stock of the progress made towards a more inclusive workforce.

Carrie Scott, head of corporate Services, Claire Passmore, purchase ledger, and Scarlett Bedocs, marketing assistant, share their experiences on helping to mentor and develop more women within the industry, the working culture and career opportunities.

Their comments are here.

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