27 April 2022

Interview with Rossella Birindelli – Owner, Birindelli Auto

What does gender equality mean to you?
For me, gender equality means social responsibility and meritocracy.
Unfortunately, in the automotive sector, compared to other industries, we are still lagging behind in this aspect. In the common ideal, our field is seen as predominantly male-oriented, but it’s not the case, at least for us. In fact, many roles in various fields are filled by women. Among our employees, we have female salespeople, service consultants, administrative and marketing employees, front and back office employees, and an entirely female BDC (Business Development Center) team. My daughters Giulia and Vittoria and I have been leading this sector for many years. And now, and we proudly oversee a dealership group consisting of 8 showrooms, 5 BMW and MINI service centers, and 180 employees across most of Tuscany.

How much can gender stereotypes impact a woman’s career development?
Unfortunately, gender stereotypes still have a significant impact on social and professional life in Italy, but at Birindelli Auto, we do everything we can to encourage women’s empowerment and evaluate females and males on the same qualitative and evaluative basis. My daughters and I want to be an example for all our employees, customers, and suppliers. To succeed at work, I believe that determination, passion, and ambition are essential qualities that can be shared by both men and women. I don’t make distinctions between men and women, and I have never felt different. It’s the ambition that a woman must have; unfortunately, we often don’t believe enough in ourselves and our abilities.

Have concrete actions been taken regarding gender equality within your company?
A few years ago, we created a new team composed solely of female employees. It’s a new department that deals with remote customer communication and assistance. A team of 7 female employees with an average age of 29. But this is just the beginning; we aim to increase the female presence within the company in the coming years.

Could you share, if you’d like, a positive and/or negative experience you’ve personally had or heard about regarding gender equality?
Fortunately, I have never experienced particularly negative experiences. My role is widely recognized in my organization, cultivated over time. To be honest, I have never encountered issues with my employees in any department, from sales to the workshop. They have always respected me as a woman and as the owner. I also believe that our “uniqueness” as female leaders has only rewarded us over the years because being a rarity (unfortunately) has made us appear in many people’s eyes as a positive note in such a predominantly male industry and a model to follow.