Sarah Bruce
Public Relations / Member Engagement
Phone: 604-432-7987

Engaging Men in the Equality Conversation

The automotive industry is facing one of its worst crises yet—labour shortages. In the next ten years, 71,000 skilled trade jobs are expected to open up in British Columbia and as of right now, there are not enough trained workers to fill these positions. Fortunately, there is a possible solution, the 51 percent of the population mostly overlooked when it comes to trades, women.

During equality week, September 23 to 27, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade hosted a panel called “Engaging Men as Change Agents.” Sitting on the panel was Mitzi Dean, parliamentary secretary for gender equality, Tracey Arnish, chief member experience officer, Coast Capital Savings, Walter Pela, regional managing partner, Greater Vancouver, KPMG, Emree Siaroff, chief human resources officer, senior vice president, Stantec, and moderator Rachel O’Connor, practice lead, human capital oversight, WATSON.

It was refreshing to see that not only was half the panel men but so was half the audience. This event was unique in that it did not just rally women to fight for equality it encouraged men to engage in the conversation. As Dean said, “Never in history has there been a minority group that achieved equality without help from the majority.” Basically, in order for women to truly succeed in the automotive industry, it will take male support.

Just as there are many groups working out there to raise women up, there needs to be support so men are set up for success in helping this progression. When asked what men can do to be the change agents women need, Emree Siaroff explained, “men have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Men have to be vulnerable and put themselves out there and risk making mistakes.” Change can only come from stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.

“Sometimes it just takes one man to take lead and be vulnerable and then others will follow,” Siaroff said. Men have to be honest with themselves, each other, and the women they work with. Only by identifying the barriers between men and women, can they be overcome. By overcoming these barriers, we can create work environments that welcome employees to be themselves and this not only creates a better work culture it is also the key to retaining employees.

Change will not come overnight but the fact of the matter is that men and women in the automotive industry need to help one another to be successful. With a lack of skilled employees coming into the industry, it is time to invest in women and ask the hard questions. Why are there not more women working in the automotive field? What would it take to attract them? And men, how do you really feel about women in traditionally male-dominated roles? Only by asking the tough questions, can we break down the walls and achieve true equality.