Meet Select's all-female car leasing team - Select Car Leasing
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Meet Select's all-female car leasing team

Meet the all-female car leasing team that’s bucking the trend when it comes to workplace gender divides.

To mark International Women’s Day, the exclusively-female staff at the North Midlands office of nationwide vehicle brokers Select Car Leasing have shared their experiences working in an industry that’s traditionally perceived to be male-dominated.

At the end of 2020, leading professional services firm Deloitte issued its ‘Women in Automotive Industry’ report.

Based on analysis of the entire automotive sector - including suppliers, dealers, and finance companies - the report found women represent just 20% of the workforce.

Recognising the imbalance, last year the UK’s Automotive Council - made up of senior figures from across industry and government - announced a ‘30 by 30’ pledge to increase the proportion of women in its workforce to 30% by 2030.

In some automotive offices, however, that target has already been well and truly surpassed.

Select Car Leasing Office North Midlands - formerly ‘Freedom Vehicle Contracts’ before being welcomed into the Select family earlier this year - is headquartered in Wolverhampton.

It comprises six members of staff in sales, servicing, and admin positions. All identity as female, barring co-founder Chris Hart, who set up Freedom with wife Caroline Hart, Director, back in 1998.

It’s a tight-knit group, with many having joined ten or more years ago.

Cherie King is Branch and Sales Manager at Select North Midlands. She joined the team (when it was then Freedom) aged 18 and has now spent 18 years working in the industry.

Does she perceive the vehicle leasing sphere to be as ‘male’ as the Deloitte research suggests?

The 37-year-old explains: “Sales wise, 100%, I’d definitely say there are more men, with more women having taken up administrative roles instead. And I really do believe that the Select North Midlands office is unusual in that we’re staffed entirely by women - and it has pretty much always been this way.

“This is a family-run team that’s primarily focused on the customer journey. For us, it’s not just about how many deals we put on the board. Yes, that’s important - but what’s more important is that we’re making sure we do everything we can to help the customer. It’s perhaps a more holistic approach, where we’re not aggressively trying to get deals across the line, but we’re trying to get the best deal possible for that individual motorist.”

The customer benefits in other ways, too, according to Cherie.

She adds: “We adopt an empathetic approach, whether the client is male or female. And we do often get feedback from female customers that it’s nice for them to get guidance from another woman when it comes to their vehicle lease.”

Courtney Rogers, Customer Services & Sales Administrator at Select North Midlands, says she doesn’t perceive the industry as being overtly male-dominated, particularly as her all-female unit has been together for so long.

But the 31-year-old suggests the strengths of her team include being approachable, having patience, and understanding the customer’s needs. It’s a human-centric approach, not necessarily a ‘female’ one.

Courtney reveals: “We have had instances where first-time female customers have been slightly surprised that they can speak to a female leasing consultant. And they’ve described how they feel less ‘silly’ asking car-related questions to another woman than they might do with a male leasing consultant.

“That’s not to say that male consultants can’t be just as approachable and passionate about what they do, but we do like to think we offer something that’s unique. Fundamentally, we want our customers to come back to us again and again, no matter their gender.”

Jane Evans is Customer Services, After Sales Admin & Accounts Co-ordinator at Select North Midlands. She’s been part of the team for 11 years.

Jane, 55, joined the automotive world from the builders hardware industry - another sector considered male-centric.

She says: “People think of the motoring industry and they picture men; male salesmen at the dealership with a woman on reception. But we’re proof that such stereotypes about the automotive industry are becoming outdated and I’m extremely proud to work in an all-female vehicle leasing team.

“Have we had instances where a male customer has asked to speak with a male leasing consultant? Yes, that has happened, on rare occasions. But once you’re able to demonstrate your expertise, they soon come around, and you end up creating customers for life.

“If you’re reading this and you’re anxious about working in the automotive industry, I can honestly say that you will not be disrespected as a female operating in this arena.”

Jane’s thoughts echo some of the sentiments derived from Deloitte’s initial ‘Women in Automotive Industry’ report, which found that more than two-thirds (68%) of women had ‘seen a positive change in the automotive industry’s attitude towards women employees in the last five years’.

Caroline Hart, Operations Director, has been in the vehicle leasing industry for 25 years and says she’s proud of the all-female team she’s built.

The 55-year-old adds: “The leasing industry has significantly evolved since I’ve been working in it. We're now advising more and more female customers who are arranging their own lease vehicles, and we're also dealing with more and more successful women in prominent roles at finance houses and dealerships.

"The female team here at Select North Midlands has been together for a long time now - and I'm proud of their continued success.”

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Friday, 17/05/2024