Inspired by International Women’s Day 2019, we’re bringing you spotlights on women working across Lookers who are paving the way in a male-dominated industry.
We discover what motivates them, why they love working at Lookers and how we could get a better balance of gender across the workplace.
Lookers have already taken steps to make the workplace more inclusive for women, with strategies such as creating a female apprentice network, becoming part of the UK Automotive 30% Club and by offering industry-leading maternity leave.
However, there is still more to be done before we can become a truly gender-balanced workplace.
We've been bringing you stories of women across the workplace, continuing to shed light on the themes of International Women’s Day across the year until the next event in 2020.
This month, we caught up with Lynette Gillespie, Centre Host at our Ferrari dealership at Charles Hurst in Belfast. After spending 23 years as a Flight Supervisor for British Midland Airways, Lynette joined Charles Hurst six years ago and has never looked back. Find out more about her experience working for Charles Hurst (part of the Lookers family) below.
What attracted you to the role at Charles Hurst?
Having been a customer of Charles Hurst and having always experienced excellent customer service in the showrooms, I knew that when the opportunity arose to continue my career, Charles Hurst would be a great place to do it.
I thrive in a customer-based environment and enjoy making sure that a customer’s experience is the best that it can be. These little things are the roots of Charles Hurst, that’s how we obtain the ‘Customers for Life’.
Were there any challenges in the role? If so, how were they overcome/dealt with?
When I started in Charles Hurst, I thought that being cabin crew would have already prepared me to work in a fast-paced environment. However, I began to doubt myself, particularly with being on the wrong side of 40 I felt a little anxious and was concerned if this would be an obstacle.
As time went on, I learned how to manage my time more efficiently in the fast paced environment of a car showroom. I made sure that my tasks as a Host were completed to the best of my ability, while still being able to take time to get to know my customers and tend to their needs when required.
Have you any personal challenges or commitments which have impacted your work life and how have Charles Hurst supported you with this?
Last year my husband fell ill, a situation that I did not expect to arise while working for Charles Hurst. I found myself demotivated and wanting to be at home with my family through this emotionally stressful time.
However, coming into work and being with such a fantastic team of people kept my spirits up and made it that little bit easier to cope!
Do you feel there is a good balance of males and females within your workplace?
I feel that there are currently more men than women in our workplace. However, women are treated with the utmost respect and are looked after well in Charles Hurst.
I would definitely encourage women to apply for positions, particularly in the sales end of the business where we are very short of female Sales Executives!
The theme for this year's IWD was “Balance for Better”. How do you think we could address a better gender balance across the workplace, not just at Lookers, but also in a wider context?
There are two main areas that I think would lead to a greater gender balance across the workplace.
Firstly, in the case of companies not hiring women for senior level roles, they should identify what barriers they have constructed which have led to fewer job applications from women.
That doesn’t mean the requirements for the position need to be changed, but asking if 15 years of management experience is required when ten years may do, is a positive step towards opening the role up to more people.
Companies should also consider whether including other types of experience that broadens the pool of applications is equally beneficial to the position.
Secondly, one of the most significant hurdles that currently prevent women from reaching the top of their career is the lack of available childcare support.
Companies should consider offering flexible working to assist with children and elderly care. Flexible working is one of the benefits of working at Charles Hurst.
To relieve working mothers, parental leave for fathers should also be promoted as this will not only allow mothers to invest more time into their careers, but research has shown that fathers want to be and should be more actively involved in childcare duties.
Companies need to play a vital role in supporting mothers by working together to agree on a fair and balanced workplace that will promote productivity, while also allowing flexibility and the option to work remotely where possible.
If your daughter were joining Lookers, what advice would you give her?
Don’t be afraid to make new challenges in life and to apply for whatever role you are interested in. Females are more than capable and gender should not be discriminated. Charles Hurst and Lookers welcome everyone with open arms.
To find out more about working at Lookers and browse some of our current vacancies, take a look at our careers page, here.