The bike industry’s slow progress on maternity leave, PTO, and career growth is prompting change
Equality in pay, respect, and advancement opportunities is rare across various industries, and unfortunately, cycling is no exception. A significant 71% of women in this field are eyeing exits to pursue better prospects elsewhere. This statistic reflects a deep-rooted issue despite recent efforts to empower women in cycling, such as the introduction of mentorship initiatives and prestigious races like Paris-Roubaix Femmes and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
Cycling remains a male-dominated arena, despite the efforts of influential women striving for gender balance in leadership roles. For Hollie Weatherstone, a veteran of ten years in the cycling world, this challenging and sluggish pace of change has led her to join the majority seeking opportunities outside the industry.
A Focus on Gender Diversity is Essential, Not Optional
Having held the position of global head of marketing at Muc-Off and roles at Canyon Bicycles and Scicon, Weatherstone’s experience in the cycling industry has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Her decision to leave underscores the ongoing struggle for gender equality in this field.
Weatherstone on Her Experience and the Future of the Cycling Industry
Hollie Weatherstone, reflecting on her career in the cycling industry, admits that while it’s been largely rewarding, it required extra effort to prove her worth. She notes that progress in achieving gender diversity and equality is happening, albeit more slowly than ideal, with pay equity and leadership roles for women still lagging.
Weatherstone emphasizes that gender equality in compensation and career advancement is vital, not just a desirable addition. This is echoed by an IBM report, which highlights that companies valuing growth opportunities for women report significantly higher revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and innovation.
“Diverse leadership isn’t just a formal requirement; it enhances profitability and strengthens customer relations,” Weatherstone points out. She believes that emphasizing diversity and inclusion in cycling can attract new enthusiasts and address the current decline in sales. This approach, she argues, is crucial for propelling the cycling industry forward in a way that benefits all.
As a mother, Weatherstone highlights the challenges of balancing family and work, noting that the cycling industry’s approach to maternity benefits and work-life balance doesn’t meet her needs. Additionally, reaching a career plateau has prompted her to explore new professional avenues where she can continue to grow and face new challenges.
The Importance of Pay and Benefits in Career Choices
Reflecting on her journey in the cycling industry, Hollie Weatherstone describes it as an “amazing” experience filled with encounters with passionate individuals. However, changes in her personal life and career aspirations have led her to seek opportunities beyond the cycling world.
Weatherstone’s decision is influenced by the challenges of balancing motherhood with her career, especially given the cycling industry’s current approach to maternity benefits, flexibility, and work-life balance. She feels these aspects do not adequately cater to her needs. Additionally, reaching a career standstill has spurred her to consider other fields where she can continue to grow and face new challenges. She has now transitioned to the role of Head of Marketing at Body Jewellry Ltd., a leading U.K. supplier of body jewelry and tattoo supplies.
This move aligns with broader trends identified in studies like Lean In’s, which note that career progression for women at managerial and directorial levels is notably slower, affecting a significant number of women in corporate America. The phenomenon known as the “Great Breakup” highlights that women at the director level are leaving their positions at a higher rate than in previous years, and more so than their male counterparts.
A survey of director-level and above marketing roles in the cycling industry reveals a vast disparity in salaries, ranging from as low as $32,000 to nearly $200,000, depending on the organization’s stature. This inconsistency is also evident in policies regarding Paid Time Off (PTO) and maternity leave, with different companies offering varying levels of support.
For those balancing their careers with parenting responsibilities and other aspects of life, the provision of PTO and maternity leave is often a crucial factor in deciding whether to remain in the cycling industry.
Weatherstone’s Encouragement for Women in Cycling
Hollie Weatherstone, despite facing hurdles in career advancement and benefits in the cycling industry, remains thankful for her experiences there. She encourages other women, especially those considering a future in cycling, to pursue their interests in this field.
Weatherstone strongly believes in the potential for positive change within the cycling industry. “If you’re a young woman with aspirations in cycling, definitely pursue them,” she advises. She emphasizes the need for fresh viewpoints in this sector and is optimistic about the impending changes. Weatherstone is confident that the involvement of more women will significantly enhance the cycling world.
Spring’s Perspective on Joining the Cycling Industry
“There has never been a better time to be part of the cycling industry and contribute to its evolution towards equality,” asserts Spring. She emphasizes the need for passionate individuals who are committed to making a difference and improving the industry.
Programs like the Uplift mentorship initiative and Women in Sports Tech (WiST) are instrumental in supporting women as they enter and advance in the cycling and sports sectors. WiST, in particular, offers valuable resources such as webinars and a career toolkit tailored for women in sports.
Echoing these sentiments, Weatherstone shares her final thoughts: “While we’ve made strides, there’s still a considerable journey ahead in achieving gender parity in the cycling industry.” This statement encapsulates her experience and outlook on the future of cycling, highlighting the ongoing need for progress.