The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual, encouraging the idea that ‘an equal world is an enabled world’ (https://www.internationalwomensday.com). With this theme in mind, we are celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 by highlighting the future of female leadership in our business.
Our Future Leaders programme is designed to invest in the next generation of thought-leaders for Mercedes-Benz South West. Every 18 months, applications are open to staff members from all background across the business in order to support them in their development.
Head of Human Resources Richard Syree commented “The Future Leaders programme has a variety of benefits for us. Not only does it allow us to offer staff a clear path for their development, it also allows us to contribute towards the diversification of our leadership; ensuring that we are representing the full breadth of our workforce.”
In honour of International Women’s Day 2020, we caught up with three of our female future leaders to hear more about their experiences and why Mercedes-Benz South West is a great place to work, no matter what your gender is.
Why did you apply for the Future Leaders course?
Emily Coates, Customer Experience Co-Ordinator (EC): I applied for Future Leaders because I am passionate about my career progression. Ask anyone who knows me – I’ve always been naturally driven to succeed, probably through sheer stubbornness at times, and the programme seemed like it would offer me the support I needed to make success a reality.
Keighly Kerr, Senior Sales Administrator (KK): I saw the success of the previous cohort of future leaders from my site and knew it would be something I would like to achieve myself. I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to put forward my ideas for the company and obtain personal growth within the work environment.
Fiona Meredith, Accounts Assistant (FM): I felt I had reached a point where I wished to further myself in my career and invest some time in my personal growth.
Emma Harvey, Corporate Sales Administrator (EH): I wanted to gain a better understanding of our business and develop my skill set further. Working on some projects as part of this course has allowed me to challenge our current processes and learn how to implement new ideas and how to put them into practice.
How do you feel about being recognised as a future female leader in a traditionally male dominated industry?
EH: The motor trade is traditionally male dominated however I don’t think I ever felt this would stop me progressing within Mercedes-Benz South West, if you are able to demonstrate you are capable and keen to progress, the support from the management team is there, they want to help you develop your skills and succeed. I am proud to be on the future leaders course.
FM: It’s definitely a personal achievement, although I also think it’s a great credit to the company to be showing encouragement to employees, aiding them to grow their leadership abilities, regardless of gender.
EC: I’m lucky that I grew up in a family who never made me feel like being female was a disadvantage. I’ve never been told I couldn’t do something just because of who I am, and therefore it never occurred to me that I might not get the job or the promotion because of my gender. Thinking back to some of the struggles I’ve heard other women have experienced, maybe this mind-set is naïve, but going in full steam ahead has gotten me to where I am and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I hope that I bring value as an individual regardless of the fact I’m female, and that more people recognise that you need balance in an organisation to succeed.
KK: I’d like to think I’m recognised as a future leader on my own merit more so than the fact that I am female. I see this as an opportunity given to myself and the other women on the course to push a step forward in having more female leaders within Mercedes-Benz Southwest which I feel we have historically, unintentionally lacked.
Why do you think it’s important for Mercedes-Benz South West to have a balance of men and women in our leadership?
FM: Everybody has something different to bring to the table, the mix of experience and abilities is always best in any industry to keep things fresh and moving forward.
KK: By having an equal balance of leadership the company can hopefully inspire others to push themselves to achieve anything they set their eyes on. A person’s gender should not make them feel like they should hold back from their dream role or from a step forward in their career. The sky is the limit within Mercedes-Benz South West!
EH: I think it is important as it shows we offer equal opportunities to both men and women who are looking to progress within the company.
EC: I think people in general have different skill sets regardless of if they are male or female, and equally regardless of their religion or ethnicity or social background – and we should use these to our advantage. Men and women are good at different things and in order for a business to grow you need to look at it from all angles. Why not get the best of both worlds?
How do you think Mercedes-Benz South West builds an encouraging and supportive environment for women to thrive in their careers?
EC: I think that just by looking at how many women we have in the dealerships, in both management and support roles, you can see that Mercedes-Benz South West does encourage women to thrive. It’s not always been easy for me and sometimes I struggle – not because I doubt my capabilities, but because I wrongly assume that others might judge me for my age or gender. These doubts never last long because they are quashed immediately by my managers, which I think is testament to the fact that they genuinely offer a supportive environment for women to thrive in. In my experience, like for anyone, all you have to do is work for it.
EH: The Future Leader Course is definitely an encouraging and supportive environment for this, whilst your opinions and suggestions for business improvements are listened to and considered by the management team.
FM: I feel we are taken as individuals and on our merits. I have never felt discriminated against or intimidated (and having been in the motor trade for 15 years this wasn’t the case in previous jobs) and always treated as an equal and with respect.
KK: Although there are only a few female managers within my site I feel like they are a perfect example that hard work and dedication does pay off. The support I have received at Mercedes-Benz South West has been better than I could have imagined. Even if the motor industry is typically male dominated I feel like my male colleagues and managers are keen to give everyone the push to be the best they can be despite their gender.
Mercedes-Benz South West was recognised as One to Watch in the Best Companies survey in 2019, which uses staff insight to measure engagement and performance. This, along with the Future Leaders programme, highlights our dedication to providing the Mercedes-Benz standard of ‘the best, or nothing’ across for our employees as well as our customers.
We’re delighted to welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, so if you are interested in working with forward thinking employer that is committed to staff wellbeing and equality, visit our career pages to browse our current vacancies.