For years, the comité sectoriel de main-d’œuvre des services automobiles (CSMO-Auto) has been promoting the automotive industry and its professions to various populations, including women. Given the current labour shortage, women represent a promising pool of potential employees. But the percentage of women in the industry is low at only 18%. What can be done to attract more women to this particular work environment?
Initiatives have been launched in the past. CSMO-Auto, for example, received a grant from Status of Women Canada to develop a mentoring model for women in the industry. Although the project was well-received, it proved difficult to implement when more needed to be done to improve the recruitment and integration of women in the workplace (integration involves women in non-traditional trades, such as mechanics, auto body repairers, technical advisors, and partspersons). The project confirmed the importance of talking to employers about hiring more women and improving HR practices in the workplace.
Other industries in which women are relatively rare have developed strategies to boost their appeal. The construction sector, for example, has devoted money and resources to the implementation of a special program designed to attract and integrate women. Competitors are already interested, and for good reason: vocational training centres have trouble attracting women, and not because of the physical nature of jobs.
HOW CAN COMPANIES IN THE INDUSTRY ATTRACT MORE WOMEN?
Today’s job market offers women a growing number of positions in a wide variety of sectors. Turnover and the fact that more women are getting diplomas has made it easier for women to enter the workforce on a massive scale. In fact, the participation rate for all women aged 15 to 64 has increased from 46% in 1976 to 76% in 2015.
However, according to the Comité consultatif femme (CCF), “The problem of women’s access to employment and job retention has not yet been solved. The significant rise in the number of women on the job market over the last few decades does not imply a substantial improvement in living conditions.”
COMPETITION FROM TRADITIONAL JOB SECTORS
According to the CCF:
- Women are drawn to traditionally female sectors, which offer lower-paying jobs than those typically filled by men.
- A woman’s annual income is still 25% less than that of a man.
More competitive and attractive workplaces offer women better working conditions and work-life balance. According to the CCF, “Work-school-life balance is still mostly a women’s issue. Having children creates challenges for women on the job market despite government programs for childcare and parental insurance.”
According to the latest CSMO-Auto study on work-life balance, twice as many women as men working in the automotive industry are also acting as a caregiver. The results of the study show that women take more time off work for their children and are often responsible for getting them to and from school.
WOMEN IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
The automotive industry is now 18% women, most of whom are employed as purchasing clerks (37%) and service representatives (34%).
In dealerships, women often work as technical advisors, sales associates, managers, and detailing technicians.
To attract and retain women, the automotive industry will need to compete with other sectors by supporting the implementation of fair employment conditions and work-life balance measures.
The following five work-life balance measures are key to keeping women in the workplace:
- Flexible hours
• Compressed work weeks
• Staggered work schedules
• Paid time off during spring break
- A family leave bank
As discussed at the Sommet Solutions RH 2019, while these measures are effective at attracting women to the industry, they also represent a new HR approach that ensures all employees have access to a positive work environment. The industry needs to evolve as quickly as possible to better meet the needs of a new generation of workers.
One thing is certain, women are a major asset to the automotive industry. That said, we need to offer women more meaningful advancement opportunities if we hope to attract and retain more women in the future.
The industry has much to offer, but it is not the only one. In today’s job market, we need to do everything we can to stand out from other sectors.