It's funny how memories are tied to places. How much easier it is to remember events in one's life if they are anchored in a particular house or a holiday destination. But I had never thought about cars as repositories of memories until this lovely Renault Clio ad.
Watching it brought me back to both a dark but free time in my life: my divorce. As I left the car to my ex-husband, I got myself a third-hand, 12 years-old little Clio - for the whole of £750. Despite some pretty tough times, the kids and I had fun in this car. I took my daughter on a week's holiday in North Devon to celebrate her black belt in karate. I took both of my kids rambling on the Yorkshire Moors. We could not afford to take a holiday abroad then so the Renault Clio was at the heart of our very English holidays.
Beyond these personal considerations, it is obviously heartening and important that Renault is engaging with diversity. You would hope so, given that the former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry who must have personally understood the value of diversity, being himself from a mixed background and having benefited from a rich mix of international experiences.
I don't want to pour scorn on this ad - which is wonderfully well done and sends all the right messages - but it is hard to avoid a feeling that this glosses over deeper inequalities at the car maker. Women at Renault-Nissan still earn only 79p for every £1 that men earn when comparing median hourly wages: that's 21% lower than men’s. When comparing mean hourly wages, women’s mean hourly wage is 26% lower than men’s. The vast majority (90%) of people in the highest paid quarter are men. And when one looks at bonuses, the picture is even less rosy: women earn 63p for every £1 that men earn when comparing median bonus pay, and 50% less than men when comparing mean bonus pay.
So while it is wonderful to celebrate the love that two women have for each other - a great step in the right direction - I wish the company itself showed greater love for all women in its care: the female employers that work for them. Otherwise, this discrepancy can open the company to charges of tokenism. Always a good idea to get one's house in order...