BY MIKE OCHONMA
Globally, the automotive industry is known to be male-dominated. Despite improvements over the years, the gender difference in the industry calls for more proactive measures to increase the representation of women.
In this regard, Suzuki by CFAO Nigeria and Automedics Limited have entered a strategic partnership with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to kick off the Suzuki EmpowerHer (SEH) programme.
The SEH programme aims to empower women in the automotive industry by providing free training to those who lack the financial means but have the desire to start and build careers as technicians.
During the signing of the MoU that heralded the new partnership, which seeks to bridge the gender gap and create greater diversity in the automotive industry, Aissatou Diouf, general manager, Suzuki by CFAO, expressed appreciation to the Automedics team for offering value to the girl-child and shared her delight to support the on-going work in her capacity.
Also alluding to the fact that there is room for growth for women in the automotive industry and high-profile positions in society, Diouf said she was interested in making a positive impact.
“Women are hardworking and resilient and can add as much value as their male counterparts. The problem is that most times they do not have the channels to perform, but once given a platform, they own it. They do it in the way they can because men and women are different,” Diouf said.
Speaking on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion for automotive businesses, Kunle Shonaike, chief executive officer, Automedics Limited, said he was passionate about training more women to operate successfully in the industry because he believes in their capabilities.
“When it comes to the girl-child, I am very passionate about the topic, and I have trained several women that are operating in the automotive industry, especially here in Nigeria. Some are running their workshops privately, and some are heading workshops for some organizations,” Shonaike said.
“At Automedics, when we have female students, I take them under my wings because I want them to be better. I believe women can do practically anything that men can do,” he said.
The CEO, who has decades of practice experience in the United States and who is reputed for creating equal and fair opportunities for women, shared his optimism about the new relationship with Suzuki by CFAO.
He described the collaboration as a perfect fit as Automedics Limited has also been a flag-bearer for promoting inclusivity in the Nigerian automotive industry. Suzuki by CFAO has a diversified workforce with women taking up challenging roles and growing in their respective fields. The CFAO Group also has “Diversity” as one of its four core values.
The free SEH training will begin on August 1 and last through November 2022. The investment is set to nurture competence and confidence through several skill development sessions.
The general manager stated that she envisages a successful long-term partnership that will empower the female gender beyond training and emphasised the need for consistency.
“We don’t want to just train and let them go. We need to do a lot to empower them more. It has to be something consistent, not to show that we are doing something but to know that Suzuki and CFAO have empowered women with the skills they need for their professional insertion,” she said.
The Suzuki Empower Her (SEH) programme is an industry initiative that further reiterates a commitment to allowing women to grow and make a mark in the automotive industry, which is predominantly male-driven. The initiative will not only provide opportunity, empowerment, and security but will inspire others in the sector to join forces to expand their footprints across Nigeria with many more programs to achieve gender parity.