National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) chief executive Sue Robinson has welcomed car retailers’ efforts to make the automotive sector “more attractive to young women” but said there remained “work to be done”.

In a recent speech, Robinson celebrated the efforts of the NFDA’s Drive My Career initiative, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and the Automotive 30% Club in changing perceptions of the sector but maintained that efforts must continue in order to achieve greater diversity, equality, and inclusion.

Robinson went on to say that the industry must “address the gender divide”, adding: “Franchised dealers have recently made huge improvements in ensuring opportunities are available equally to everyone and trying to attract more diverse employees to their dealerships. However, I still believe there is work to be done to make sure any negative perceptions are eradicated.

“Young females may not initially consider motor retailing as their first option for a career, given that the sector is still predominantly a male-dominated environment and misconceptions of the industry remain. However, we are constantly seeing progressive changes, franchised dealers are offering equal opportunities and employing more talented females.

“It was particularly reassuring to see during National Apprenticeship Week many young females endorsing their apprenticeship experiences and recommending a career in automotive to peers. I believe in equal opportunity for all, and it is important to not see gender when looking for a new employee but look for determination and resilience.”

Research by the IMI last year revealed that only 19% of automotive retail employees were women, while non-automotive industries offer a far more even spread (49% men and 51% women).

In 2020 Deloitte found that 90% of automotive sector employees believe women are under-represented in leadership positions, and 57% of women do not see a career path to get to the level they want.

Drive My Career is among key initiatives aiming to change this. Partnering with HR representatives of leading UK retailers to help change the perception of the automotive industry and educate young people on the potential career paths that are available.

Similarly, the Automotive 30% Club was established by Julia Muir to achieve a better gender balance within the automotive industry. Aiming to employ at least 30% of key leadership positions in member organisations with diverse women by 2030 is the goal.

Robinson said: “Initiatives such as Drive My Career and the Automotive 30% Club are essential to promoting the sector as an inclusive and diverse workplace, with one of its main objectives to make the automotive retail sector more attractive to young women who want to start their careers.”