Karen Sheppard, owner and managing director of People First Mobility in Skegness has championed female leaders in the industry.
In conversation with Access and Mobility Professional, Sheppard detailed how there is still a feeling from people she deals with in-store that a female would not be in charge, and that needs to change.
She explained: “We find there’s ladies that come in and ladies only want to talk to ladies about certain problems so it is so important to have women working in this industry.
“I think there are quite a few manageresses, but they are just in there running the shop. But as actual owners of the businesses, it is very rare. It is either man and woman, or just man. There are very very few ladies working at senior level.”
She continued: “All the time, customers come in and if they want to ask a technical question about batteries for example, they will often look over me and speak to one of the lads that are in here. Sometimes they’ll actually look through you as a woman and talk to someone else.
“I’ve also had reps, not so much from the industry that know me, but other people have come in and walked straight past me and will go straight to the guy in the shop.”
She went on to detail how she hopes the work she has been doing at various events around the country with different business veterans championing female leaders, can help drive change within this industry.
She said: “That is actually what Baroness Karren Brady is about. She is saying that there should be more women on board level within businesses and like we’ve said, within this industry, because you’ve got the repair side of it, I think that could be a reason as to why it is the way it is.”
“I’ve spoken to people who have car businesses and that is often the same there too and they think you’re not actually capable of repairing them. Obviously I do have engineers here working for me but I can do stuff myself as well, for example I fit batteries myself anyway. So again, the assumption is a woman can’t do that.”
The People First Mobility boss concluded by saying she expects “something is about to change,” and hopes that it will, for the better of everyone.
In 2017, Karen Sheppard appeared in AMP’s Power List.
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