– By Caroline Falls –
St George Auto Finance, a division of Westpac Banking Corp., hosted a Women in Auto networking breakfast in Sydney for 150 in early April, with the line-up of speakers organised to discuss the 2019 International Women’s Day theme “balance for better’ and how it applies to the automotive industry in Australia.
Phil Waugh, National Manager Auto Finance, St George Bank & Bank of Melbourne, and master of ceremonies presented statistics showing how important the female voice is in the automotive industry: 80% of overall car purchasing decisions are made by women. And also how overlooked: women make up just 8 percent of executives in the top 20 automotive companies in a 2018 Fortune 500 survey, according to Waugh. Studies showed that companies that get the makeup of women right benefit with improved profits, said Waugh.
“We all want balance in this room,” said Edwina McCann, editor of Vogue Australia, and panel convenor on the day, adding, “And in the wake of MeToo we all want a respectful environment.”
Other speakers and panel members included: Rebecca Frizelle, CEO of Frizelle Prestige, Jessica Dane, chair of the Australian Women in Motor Sport Commission, Amanda Laing, Foxel’s chief commercial officer, and Molly Taylor, first female rally driver to win the Australian Rally Championship.
The theme for the discussion was the more diverse the workforce, the better the conversation and the better the outcome.
Laing advised on treating women on part-time or maternity leave as critical team members, and not leaving them on the sidelines. “Don’t give women on part-time work lesser work. Share good work with part-timers,” she said.
Also in keeping with the discussion on diversity, Frizelle introduced Dani, Diverse Auto Network Inc., an initiative to promote a culture inclusion in work practices. The forum is also a champion for flexible arrangements in a workforce slowly but surely increasingly female. A foundation group has written a charter and is calling for additional corporate support to finance its promotional and networking activities.
“It’s a subject close to my heart,” Frizelle said of the new initiative embracing gender diversity. “We are asking our dealerships to ask questions about diversity.”
She is also calling for anyone interested in having a dialogue about diversity in the automotive industry to register at: .
The charter includes a call to provide a national network for members across the automotive industry to collaborate and share innovations in the space of diversity and inclusion.