An International Women’s Day Breakfast led by the AAAA has launched a new program tackling diversity in Australia’s automotive aftermarket

On the eve of International Women’s Day, a special breakfast was held to not only celebrate the women of Australia’s automotive aftermarket, but also launch a new program dedicated to accelerating the rate of change when it comes to the participation of women in the industry.
The ‘Accelerating Progress for Women in Automotive’ program is spear-headed by five very passionate and industry-leading women: AAAA Director of Government Relations and Advocacy, Lesley Yates; GUD Holdings Chief People Officer, Barbara Harrison; GPC Chief People Officer, Aileen Hayes; Gates Corporation Marketing Manager, Priscilla Robb; and BAPCOR Chief People and Culture Officer, Meryl Dooley.
The program’s International Women’s Day Breakfast was held at the Hyatt in Scoresby, Victoria; attended by a host of amazing women from across the automotive industry alongside a small number of male industry leaders. The Breakfast also included an address from business, leadership and philanthropy powerhouse, Lucy Bloom.
“In late 2023, we came together to start a conversation about our common concern that we are not seeing a change in the pace for accelerating progress for women in our industry, it is slow progress. Our numbers as a percentage of participation in the industry are small, but more concerningly, they aren’t markedly improving year on year,” Lesley said.
“With International Women’s Day fast approaching at that point, it made perfect sense to launch the program here with an event that not only brought together some amazing women of our industry and celebrated their achievements, but also took the opportunity to get their feedback through a table-by-table workshop on what they wanted us to be focusing on as we look to advance the participation of women in our industry.
“This wasn’t just a breakfast, it was the kick off for what is going to be an important and ongoing activity to really accelerate progress towards diversity in our industry, and it is something we are very proud of.
“Having said that, the breakfast really was a very special event – to see the coming together of women across the industry and the discussion of ideas was just fantastic, and the vibe in the room was incredible.
“I was glad also that we could have a few men in the room as well, so they could witness the discussions and take those back to their businesses and their own teams.
“It really was a very personally rewarding activity for myself and the committee, this group of five amazing women, and this has probably been one of my favourite projects to date – with my role in government relations and advocacy, it would be no surprise to hear that a lot of the work I do is quite combative, so I am really loving working on a project where we are all working together for a common purpose.”
After analysing the feedback from the IWD Breakfast, the program will be focusing on two key initiatives in the immediate future.
“Firstly, we will be creating a calendar of events to share ideas and knowledge and find ways to overcome barriers. This calendar will culminate in another big International Women’s Day event in 2025, so keep an eye out for various event announcements coming across the year,” Lesley said.
“Secondly, we are going to examine how we can best establish a mentoring program to further the development of women in our industry, likely to be delivered in a group context by bringing together connected circles and groups of women who are able to support each other around common issues and/or common professions within the industry.”

If you are a woman in the Australian automotive aftermarket industry and would like to provide any feedback or suggestions on the Accelerating Progress for Women in Automotive program, its calendar of events or planned mentorship program, please email