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A vehicle leasing company says customers should be given the choice to speak with a female employee from enquiries through to sales.

The Devon based company, Carparison, are offering customers the option of speaking to a female member of the team in an effort to make customers feel more comfortable when doing business with the automotive industry.

Carparison’s decision follows the publication of a number of automotive industry surveys, which shockingly show that nearly 70 per cent of car buyers have never bought a car from a female sales representative. It also follows the company’s recent realisation that only 22 per cent of vehicle finance deals are signed by women. 

Head of Sales, Charlotte Channing-Jones explains: “Past surveys and our own research has shown us that very few people have bought cars from women. We want to help change this pattern in the automotive industry.”

She continues: “At Carparison, more than 40 per cent of our staff are female and we want people to be able to have an open and honest conversation with us about the purchase of a vehicle. The truth is, it may be that a customer would feel more comfortable speaking to a female about their automotive requirements and we’re fortunate to be able to facilitate that.”

Carparison are piloting the inclusion of a question in their online enquiry forms, asking if the customer would prefer to speak to a female member of the team. This will go live from April 1 2023.

Content Marketing Executive, Beth Twigg comments: “We started to wonder why women weren’t talking to us. There’s an industry stereotype that people working in the automotive industry are only interested in getting the deal over the line, rather than listening to what customers want. This can put people off and, considering the research we’ve seen, I think it’s important people have the option of speaking to a female about their vehicle requirements.”

At Carparison, 41 per cent of full time staff identify as female. This figure is significantly higher than the 20 per cent of the workforce who identified as female in a 2020 study by Deloitte into Women in the Automotive Industry.

The same study revealed a bias towards men for leadership positions with only ten per cent of women reaching senior management level. Despite the under representation of women in the automotive industry, eight out of ten women are the final decision makers where cars are sold.

At Carparison, 50 per cent of those in senior management positions and 23 per cent of the sales team identify as female. One out of three of the company’s directors is a woman. Charlotte concludes: “Offering customers the choice to speak to a female employee in our team is an important step towards women being fairly represented in the automotive industry.”

Julia Muir is the Founder of Automotive 30% Club, a voluntary network of MDs and CEOs from UK based automotive manufacturing, retailing and supplier companies. The purpose of the network is to achieve a better gender balance within the automotive industry, and with the aim of filling at least 30 per cent of key leadership positions in the member organisations with diverse women by 2030.

Julia said: “I welcome all actions that could enable women to feel more comfortable and confident when interacting with the sector. All automotive businesses should ensure that they view the interaction through the eyes of the female customer as well as male customers, and take into account that the traditional approach may need to be recalibrated to ensure that women are not inadvertently excluded or have a less satisfactory experience. New ideas and solutions need to be tried and tested to see what works. It will be interesting to see how many women actually take up the offer on the Carparison site to speak to a female adviser, but it’s also important to track how many simply show appreciation that the business acknowledged their potential concerns, and the choice was then theirs to make.”