Women@SIMI 2022
Sharon Keegan, founder Peachy Lean, Lucy Gaffney, Director Digicel Group, Gillian Fanning, SIMI President, and Anne Cassin Master of Ceremonies.

The 2022 Women@SIMI event has taken place in Dublin. It coincides with the release of a new survey carried out by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), which finds that 71% of women would recommend a career in the Industry to others.

The survey of 140 women from across the industry was carried out as part of SIMI’s on-going drive to encourage more women to join what has traditionally been viewed as a male-dominated sector.

The 7th Annual Women@SIMI event took place at the Gibson Hotel, Dublin, and featured a panel of guest speakers: Anne Cassin, Master of Ceremonies; Lucy Gaffney, current Director of Digicel Group; and Sharon Keegan, founder of female-led athleisure wear company Peachy Lean.

The survey found that 67% of respondents believe that women have become more visible in the industry in recent years. While 67% of respondents said that their companies have increased the number of new female employees recruited in the last 3 years.

However, over half of survey respondents believe that women are under-represented in their organisation, while 40% said that women did not have the same opportunities for advancement as men in their companies.

Also, just 26% of survey respondents identified themselves as being at Director/Board level in their organisation. This is lower than the national average of 30%.

When asked about what factors could help progress women in leadership roles, a change in cultural perception of the automotive industry overall came out on top, followed by a more flexible working environment, greater management support, leadership skills/training along with mentorship.

Gillian Fanning, SIMI President, said:

“Research has shown that female employees contribute significantly to the long-term success of any company, yet the motor industry is lagging behind many other sectors in terms of gender diversity. While our research found that the majority of female employees have seen positive changes for women over the past three years, under-representation of women across the board, and particularly at senior levels, is clearly evident.

However, what’s encouraging is the fact that almost 86% of respondents feel supported by their male colleagues and this support is critical to the success of gender diversity initiatives. While there’s no doubt that progress has taken place over recent years, with greater visibility of women than ever in the industry, we still have a long way to go in terms of addressing the inherent gender imbalance. We must continue to stress that this is not just an industry for men and highlight the diverse range of roles and opportunities on offer for women if we are to reap the proven rewards of increased female participation in our sector. We need to plan for the future – a future that will hopefully mean a greater number of women joining us and more women taking on senior roles and making strategic decisions for their companies.”

Derek McDermott, Managing Director of event sponsor Bank of Ireland Finance, said:

“In both the Banking Industry and Motor Industry, we have a way to go in the whole area of gender diversity.  We need to ensure that there are meaningful careers for women across our organisations and while we have made good progress, there is so much more to do. Bank of Ireland is proud to be a sponsor of this event – a tangible demonstration of the fact that we take the issue of gender diversity very seriously.”