International Women’s Day is today, when the world celebrates the many achievements women have accomplished over time.
CarAdvice has always been supportive of giving women the chance to move ahead in what is a heavily male-dominated automotive industry.
It is also something Holden takes seriously, establishing a number of initiatives to promote gender equality; such as committing to achieving a 50/50 gender balance in its workforce by 2022.
Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, is a registered Male Champion of Change – an Australian Human Rights Commission program which promotes women and equality on a daily basis – and GM CEO Mary Barra is the first and only female to be CEO of a major, global automotive company.
This week, I took the opportunity to speak with just a handful of women working across a wide range of roles with Holden. These women talked about how they broke into the industry, their career highlights, how equality has changed, and what it’s like working in a male-dominated industry.
Hear the audio special at the bottom of this article.
Marketing Communications and Digital
I think now is the best time for women to be considering a job in the automotive industry. We are undergoing so much rapid change, and there are so many opportunities for women.
Women in the past may not have seen the automotive industry as a place where they felt they could prosper or succeed, but that change is really happening.
Executive Director of Aftersales and member of Board of Directors
Being surrounded by men in this industry is never something I thought about too much. It wasn’t until I got into my thirties I started to realise that perhaps it’s a bit different to other places.
I’ve always had a lot of support through Holden, and that’s when I identified I perhaps had a bit of a role in terms of mentoring other women as they came through the business.
Director of Quality
One of my early career highlights was as a young intern working in the business, when I was able to take a car home for the first time to my mum and tell her, “Hey mum, here is this little storage compartment in the back of the centre console – it used to click and now it doesn’t, and that’s all me”.
As I matured in my engineering capability, designing the first seamless airbag for Holden and getting that into production was a pretty big achievement.
Intern in Engineering and Quality
My team is predominately male, but that’s changed recently. We’ve just had a few female additions to the team, which is great. I would like to think I’m working with people, not necessarily males, and they treat me the same way.
General Legal Counsel
The one thing that I see men do better than women is to put yourself forward, put your hand up, and go after things. In a bit more of a way than you might be naturally comfortable in doing so.
That would be the change I would love to see that I don’t think my generation has had.
So much has changed in creating a safer and more equal environment for everyone.
The focus and the consistency both from Mark Bernhard and Ashley Winnett (Executive Director of Human Resources) have been quite intense.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking ‘are we going too far?’. And then you take a step back and you say ‘you know what, we do have to fight for this’.
If we don’t fight for it, it won’t happen.
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