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Shattering the glass ceiling

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The glass industry, along with many other manufacturing sectors, has long been male-dominated, and women have faced a range of challenges, including gender biases and stereotypes that have led to them being overlooked both in terms of being hired and for leadership roles. This has been compounded by a lack of female role models, which has further hampered the development of young women in the industry.

Women have also faced discrimination based on their perceived lack of strength, which has made it difficult for them to be taken seriously when wanting to pursue more physically demanding roles.

Challenging the status quo

In order to change this, the onus is on businesses to put structures in place that create opportunities for women. Some of the programmes that PG Glass has implemented to ensure more women are recruited into operational roles include:

  • A diversity and inclusion programme that is being developed at group level and will be implemented through Global Business. There is also an online course covering this.
  • Bias training and awareness initiatives are in development, with an online course also available.
  • Leadership development programmes, specifically supervisory development and generic management learnerships, are run annually and PG Glass has a management development programme that is run through the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). An executive development programme, also through USB, is planned for 2024.
  • YES for Youth Development Programme (YES4Youth), a non-profit organisation that works with South Africa’s leading companies and involves mentoring young people and then absorbing them into the business through 12-month work experiences. PG Group has been part of the Yes4Youth programme since 2018 and is now on its sixth programme intake, each of which has had 120 young people brought into the company across all divisions. About 50 of the 120 go to the PG Glass Fitment Centres and other functional areas, where they have the opportunity to work as counter sales consultants, auto glass technicians, contact centre agents, and in finance, marketing and HR.

Growing representation 

While some may argue that it’s not possible to engineer change, the PG Glass example proves otherwise. The above interventions and others are helping to increase the number of women across different roles in the organisation. Currently, PG Glass’s women representation includes two out of five senior management roles, nine out of 16 middle management roles and one of three directorships in the company. 

PG Glass now also has five female auto glass technicians, a role that was once exclusively male – this is part of the company’s commitment to ensuring that as many young women as possible fill these crucial roles and they are ultimately developed into more senior roles within the company.

YES4Youth learner Kgomotso Molefe is one of many success stories. She started with PG Glass as part of the 2019 intake, was appointed permanently as a technician in 2021 and now does all auto glass fitments, including windscreens, side or rear glass and chip repairs. She works as a roving technician and supports all Fitment Centres in and around Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Kgomotso loves her job, which she finds both interesting and challenging. “What I also love about working for PG Glass is that they are the best when it comes to auto glass fitments and repairs, and they take quality very seriously. So I get to learn and develop in my job every day. I also feel the company affords us opportunities to develop in our roles as a woman.”

Talent search

To make sure that its initiatives work, PG Glass has implemented strong policies that ensure that eligible women are recruited and not overlooked for promotion. These policies cover topics from equal opportunity and non-discrimination to maternity and other leave, and flexible work arrangements.

However, it’s not only enough to provide opportunities for existing staff – in order to effect change, it’s important to go out and look for talent that can be brought into the business.

Best of Belron, which takes place every two years with representatives from over 25 countries,  celebrates the immense skills and expertise of Belron Technicians around the world. Technicians, who have already won their own national titles, compete for the international title by showcasing how to repair and replace a windscreen, replace side and back glass, and carry out the recalibration of an advanced driver assistance system.

For the 2024 edition of Best of Belron, PG Glass will embark to showcase female talent by searching for the best female autoglass technician. Applicants will follow a programme of training, coaching, development and continuous assessment. The female autoglass technician who achieves the highest assessment score, along with her coach, will represent PG Glass at the Best of Belron, hosted in Barcelona, Spain in 2024.

PG Glass has made substantial progress in being more supportive of women with well-established empowerment, skills development and career progression programmes, but the company also understands that it is very much a work in progress and there is a lot of hard work that still lies ahead. To this end, the policies and programmes already in place will help PG Glass make a real, lasting difference to women’s lives.