Mazda UK managing director Jeremy Thomson has said the time is right to “turbocharge” greater gender diversity in the automotive sector after becoming the Automotive 30% Club’s latest Patron and Gold member.
Thomson’s move comes after the Japanese car brand became the first OEM to achieve the Club’s milestone of a 30% gender balance in our senior team and follows its launch of a Gender Balance Initiative across its franchised car retail network.
Commenting on his new role with the 30% Club, Thomson said: “Our engagement with the Automotive 30% Club dates back some years and I am delighted that Mazda UK was the first OEM to achieve the critical first-step milestone of a 30 per cent gender balance in our senior team.
“With the dramatic changes in working practices and consumer engagement since 2020 – many of which I am certain will endure – I sense that the timing has never been better to turbo-charge our actions to achieve a permanent and long-overdue balance across our workforce in every aspect, but particularly in gender representation.”
Led by Laura Brailey, Mazda UK’s head of retail operations, Mazda’s Gender Balance Initiative was introduced earlier this year and is comprised of CEOs, managing directors and senior leaders from leading dealership groups within Mazda’s UK network.
With a cohort now influencing 53 Mazda dealer points, or 44% of the brand’s UK dealer network, the collaborative group aims to share valuable learnings to build successful gender-balanced businesses, while influencing other dealership groups to rethink representation and culture.
“Nowhere in the sector is the issue more prevalent and deep-rooted than at the dealer/retailers,” Thomson said.
Particularly in the car sales functions, operational management and dealer owner/investor areas, the imbalance is particularly poor with just 4% of dealer principals and 11% of sales executive roles filled by women (2022 Mazda survey of the industry).
“Not only is this grossly unfair, but it damages the image of all manufacturer dealerships, and manufacturer brands, with our mutual customers whose values, gender mix and expectations are simply not met when they visit the UK’s 4,500 franchised outlets.”
Julia Muir, CEO of Gaia Innovation and founder of the Automotive 30% Club, said: “It is my great pleasure to announce that one of our Automotive 30% Club founder members, Jeremy Thomson MD of Mazda UK, has accepted my invitation to become a Patron and Gold member of the Club.
“Having known Jeremy for several years, he was one of the first industry leaders I approached over six years ago to discuss the idea of starting the campaign to build gender-balanced businesses in the UK automotive sector by increasing diverse female representation, and he was present at the launch of the Club in March 2016.
“He and retail operations director Laura Brailey will be hugely valuable additions to our patron group.”