Mazda has launched a Gender Balance Initiative to encourage greater diversity in front-line and senior management roles across its 122-strong UK dealership network.
Jeremy Thomson, managing director of Mazda UK, said: ‘Auto Trader research from 2018 discovered that a third of women who visited dealerships noticed very few, if any, women in car sales showrooms.
‘Thirteen per cent found the lack of diversity created an uncomfortable showroom experience and – most alarmingly – this probably contributed to 94 per cent of women saying they don’t trust car dealerships.
‘Clearly, this has to change, but research by Mazda UK in 2022 into 1,900 car dealer customers and prospects indicates that the situation has not improved in the past four years.
‘Indeed, the Mazda data shows that over a half of women and a third of men would like to see the gender balance improved.
‘However, it is an important note that nearly all respondents said that gender tokenism and quotas are not acceptable – the staff should be appointed on capability.
‘Our conclusion is that we must continue to make the dealership working environment more attractive and inclusive and that in itself will accelerate a natural balance.’
Working with the Automotive 30% Club, which aims to have at least 30 per cent representation of diverse women in key leadership roles by 2030, the initiative comprises CEOs, managing directors and senior leaders from 12 leading dealership groups – four of which are existing Automotive 30% Club members.
Laura Brailey, head of retail operations at Mazda UK, who is leading the initiative, said: ‘Mazda has been a member of the Automotive 30% Club for a number of years, and I’m proud that we have taken many steps to embed an inclusive and cohesive culture at head office.
‘From our own research, it’s clear our customers want change within the dealership environment, and in order to influence a positive and meaningful change, we wanted to tackle this at the very highest level.
‘Within our Mazda Gender Balance Initiative cohort, the eight groups have 32 Mazda dealerships, or 25 per cent of our dealer network.
‘Added to the four existing Automotive 30% Club members with Mazda franchises, that rises to 47 dealer points, or 40 per cent of our UK dealer network.
‘However, there is a much greater opportunity. If Mazda can support and influence a positive change, it is reasonable to think this can extend across all brands the groups have, which totals a huge 578 dealer points across the UK.
‘It’s great to have the 12 dealer groups on this journey with us, and I hope we can use the invaluable learnings from this cohort as a catalyst to prompt other dealership groups to rethink representation and culture within their own dealerships.
‘There is no quick fix, but we have a real opportunity here to improve the diversity and gender balance within our own circle of influence, and to retain and nurture the excellent female talent we already have in our network.’
The Mazda Gender Balance Initiative members comprise Green 4 Motors, Magna, TW White & Sons, Stoneacre, Johnsons, SG Petch, Sandicliffe and Arnold Clark plus existing Automotive 30% Club members Perrys, Brayley, Hendy and the JCT Group.
Shaun Foweather, managing director of Stoneacre Group, which recently joined the Automotive 30% Club, said: ‘As a company, Stoneacre has high ambitions to increase the many upper management roles we are at present providing for the women in our business.
‘We are proud to be part of Mazda’s Initiative and joining the 30% Automotive Club as we make headway on realising these ambitions for our female leaders.’
Automotive 30% Club founder Julia Muir said: ‘This group of inclusive leaders are going to share best practices to accelerate the pace of change towards a gender balance in their businesses and it will be very exciting to see how we can then share the learnings with the wider club membership.
‘I thank them all for their commitment to their 30 by 30 strategies, and I am also very grateful to Jeremy Thomson and Laura Brailey for leading this collaborative approach in the network.’