Small Business

Trivett levels the playing field for women in business

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Women in business have long suffered discrimination. However, one of Australia’s largest automotive groups, Trivett, has turned the tables on discrimination to give women an equal footing in a male-geared industry.

In late August 2010, Trivett received exemption from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board allowing them to actively pursue the recruitment of female car sales and service providers, in an attempt to even the gender imbalance they saw in their business.

The initiative

Kirsty Duncan, Trivett’s group general manager, spearheaded the initiative, which involved six months of intense planning and preparation for their application, and allows the business a two-year exemption period.

“Ultimately what it’s all about is bringing more women into our business and to this industry,” says Duncan. “In the past, women haven’t really considered it to be an option for them as a career that’s professional and rewarding so we’d like to encourage more women to join our business. We think that will have a really positive impact on the culture within our teams and also on relationships.”

Currently employing around 550 staff, with a ratio of 80 men for every 20 women, the exemption aims to create a balance. For example, in terms of Trivett’s female sales consultants, they hope to increase the current eight per cent to 25 per cent women. Research prepared before the application was granted even showed promising results for Trivett’s large customer base.

“When I surveyed some of our customers they did say that they would like to see more women in the business,” says Duncan. “Particularly a lot of the women customers we had say that they enjoyed, and in some cases preferred, dealing with women.” 

The results

Trivett has since seen the expected results of more women making contact with the company for career opportunities. However, Duncan says she has also been pleased with the Trivett community’s reaction to the exemption.

“We’ve seen a really positive reaction from our staff, men and women alike. They all seem very proud to be the first to achieve this milestone and interested in how they can be a part of its success,” she says. “Both men and women seem to recognise that women have been underrepresented and undervalued in this industry for a long time and are really supportive and encouraging of the initiative.”

To foster an internal community of equality, Trivett has introduced training events for all staff.

“The training for all frontline staff on etiquette and selling to women is about to commence. We’re educating our teams to understand that treating men and women equally doesn’t necessarily mean treating them the same. It’s about understanding the differences between how men and women think and their difference in buying motivations,” she says. “The next step for us is going to be revisiting a lot of training for all our team so we’re going to look at different sorts of workplace behaviour training programs.

“It’s almost like an in-depth induction process so everyone who joins our business goes through all the policies and procedures that are in place.”

Duncan hopes the exemption allowance will inspire other businesses to act ethically and fairly towards women in business.

“I would think that if hopefully we could show some changes in our business and they can hear about this instance, that others will possibly follow … we’ve also had contact from other dealership groups wanting to know how they can follow suit!”

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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