Although we’re extremely proud to be included in the Top 50 Employers for Women in 2014, it’s all about hiring the best people, so implementing a gender equality strategy and allowing women flexibility to develop their careers makes sense.
The Enterprise Rent-A-Car name was not the most recognisable name on the list when The Times first honoured us as one of its Top 50 Employers for Women in the United Kingdom. The year was 2005, and at the time, the Enterprise brand was not yet a household name in the U.K.
Today, it’s a different story: our reputation has grown considerably, thanks in no small part to the women willing to join a relatively unknown firm back then and help build it into a recognised market leader.
You can count Strategic Account Manager Joanne Vickers among the pioneers. “I had never heard of Enterprise before I applied with them coming out of university,” she says. “But just recently, I had a chance to speak to a group of graduate students, all of whom knew the Enterprise name, so that tells you just how far we have come in 10 years.”
Along the way, Joanne has seen Enterprise’s success built on a distinctive approach to management development. “We are all about getting the best out of our talent because then we get the best out of our business,” she says.
That commitment enabled Enterprise Rent-A-Car to earn a spot on the Top 50 Employers for Women list again in 2014 – its ninth consecutive appearance. To be included, employers must make gender equality an integral part of their strategy and show they consistently offer women career opportunities throughout the organisation — not just in isolated areas of the business.
Broad-based job opportunities attracted Joanne to Enterprise in the first place: “I told the recruitment office at my school I didn’t want to specialise in finance or accounting,” she recalls. “I wanted to learn about actually running a business. Enterprise was the only company that offered me a chance to get that sort of grounding and experience.”
Area Manager Clare Beynon tells a similar story. After graduating with a degree in Human Resources in 2002, she realised she didn’t want to go straight into an HR position. “I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself,” she says. “What Enterprise offered — the chance to run my own business, the focus on performance — really excited me.”
Within a few years, Clare earned a promotion into an HR position at the group level. For the next six years, she worked in different HR roles before deciding “I really missed the operations side of the business,” she says. When an area manager job opened up, she applied for it even though she was a bit concerned about how much might have changed since she’d last worked in that part of the business.
“That’s one of the unique things about our culture,” Clare observes. “You get the chance to learn as you go – to stretch yourself by applying for positions that might take you out of your comfort zone.”
Flexibility is often another key ingredient in helping women build attractive career paths at Enterprise, say both Joanne and Clare. “If someone needs a flexible working arrangement to handle child care, Enterprise can offer it in many cases,” Joanne notes. “We certainly don’t want good people to leave the company. So let’s work out what it means to allow them to keep making valuable contributions to the business.”
Clare personally has seen the impact of such an approach. A few years ago, her husband experienced a medical crisis while she faced complications in her first pregnancy. “The company was extremely flexible as I was trying to juggle all that,” she says. “They were very supportive during a difficult time and that really helped our family work through the challenges.”
As encouraging as it may be for Enterprise to earn recognition as a top employer for women, external awards are not what drives the process forward, Joanne believes. Rather, it’s a matter of making quality decisions on behalf of the business.
“We all want the best people,” says Joanne. “And we recognize that 50 percent of the best people are going to be women. If we can find out what’s holding them back, we can uncover ways to make Enterprise a better place for women. And that will make the whole business better.”