Auto Service World
News   July 13, 2016   by Allan Janssen

Recruiting more women could solve HR issues: report

AIA releases report on the challenges faced by women in our male-dominated industry.

AIA ReportAIA Canada’s senior director of industry relations says if the automotive aftermarket is serious about resolving its growing skills shortage, it needs to open its doors to more women.

Speaking at the association’s third annual Women’s Leadership Conference in Collingwood, Ont. in June, France Daviault said the male-dominated aftermarket has a lot to gain by creating workplaces that are more welcoming to women.

“If we’re short of skilled labor, doesn’t it make sense to look at 51% of the workforce, the women?” she said. “Doesn’t that just make good business sense?”

She said women make up only 6% of the automotive industry in Canada, and they’re least represented in the most technical jobs where there are acute and growing shortages.

“The biggest gap is at the technician level. We definitely want to see more women technicians,” she said. “But it’s not only about numbers or about recruiting more women. It’s about addressing the culture in our workplaces that makes women feel less than welcome. That’s a huge challenge.”

Improving the situation, she pointed out, would not just benefit women.

“There’s a lot of research that shows there’s a direct line between more diverse workforces and increases in revenue and customer satisfaction,” she said.

Daviault shared the recommendations from a new report, funded in part by the federal government, on the advancement, recruitment, and retention of women in the Canadian automotive industry.

The AWAKE report says the aftermarket is not currently seen as “an industry of choice for women,” but it might be if:

  • employers create more inclusive female-friendly workplace cultures;
  • measures are taken to support women, including mentoring programs and networking opportunities aimed specifically at them;
  • efforts be taken to improve the public perception of industry opportunities for women; and
  • government continue to promote women’s participation in skilled trades and other male-dominated industries.

The AWAKE report was informed by an online survey as well as a number focus groups held in both English and French across the country. Comments from the participants highlighted concerns about the acceptance and treatment of women within the industry, the impacts of workplace culture, the public perception of industry opportunities for women, and the general lack of resources for women.

France DaviaultDaviault said two of the findings in particular need to be addressed immediately: Zero tolerance for stereotyping, and a formal structure to address sexual harassment.

“Those two are just givens. In order to move forward as a more inclusive industry, we need to do these things,” she said. “And now that we’ve been given money from the federal government, we need to do something. We’re going to be held accountable.

“I can tell you that we are making waves. This industry, the automotive aftermarket, has the attention of the federal government and provincial governments. They are definitely taking notice.”

The content of the most recent Women’s Leadership Conference – particularly a panel discussion on the experiences of young women in the industry – got high marks from attendees.

Daviault said she wants to move future conference to other parts of the country to hear from more women and address their concerns. And she’s convinced there’s widespread support for creating a more inclusive and diverse industry.

“I’ve had emails from men in the industry who are very supportive and engaged in this issue. We need that,” she said. “This is not a women’s issue. This is an industry issue, and we need to tackle it collectively.”

The AIA's Women's Leadership Conference held in Collingwood, Ont. drew hundreds of women from across the country.

The AIA’s Women’s Leadership Conference held in Collingwood, Ont. drew hundreds of women from across the country.


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2 Comments » for Recruiting more women could solve HR issues: report
  1. Robert Patterson, RSE says:

    In my career (specifically 310S, 310T) I have had occasion to converse with a few female mechanics and even had the opportunity to teach a couple of female apprentices. I can tell you in my experience, they have turned out to be exceptional additions to our trade. I do believe more women could be in the automotive trade, but the real question from my male perspective is, do they want to be? The water cooler conversation is course, and the work can be very physically demanding. Perhaps a higher female presence could have a calming effect on the enlightened man, but in my experience only the tough as nails woman will accept that kind of work environment. Indeed, I have witnessed a number of men who couldn’t handle it and have had my own sensibilities challenged at times. I have no doubt that women can learn the trade and can have an aptitude for it, but the numbers don’t lie. Unless more women start applying, the numbers will always be down. I’m not sure if it’s an inequity, or a choice. I urge all women who want to be in the trades to stand up to all the men who say no and push on. The trades will be better for it, but until the applicant numbers increase, we are stuck with status quo.

  2. Robert Patterson, RSE says:

    Jus as an addendum. I have to put up with all kinds of sexual innuendo that I don’t agree with. If I say anything I am ostracised. Do you want equal rights?

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