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In a research recently conducted in the U.S. by Forbes on ‘seven reasons why there are few women In Automotive Leadership’, it was discovered that one among these reasons had to do with women often not being given the same developmental opportunities as their male colleagues. Incidentally, these opportunities are what builds skills and help prepare talent for advancement. They enable talent to learn various aspects of the company and industry, and to manage a budget or do forecasting. Mary Barra, General Motor CEO for example, worked in almost every area of General Motors before becoming CEO, from manufacturing to design to HR and finance. The question about who qualifies to lead, leaves us with a very obvious answer being “anyone with the skills”. However, has this been the case in recent times? While some organizations have tried to fill up leadership roles with who qualifies, gender bias still exists, hence the need for this question and reiterations.
A few weeks ago, a social media poll was conducted by the Women Automotive Network to it’s over 10,000 followers and beyond on LinkedIn. The poll reached thousands of users as it had organic shares, majority being men and women in the automotive space; and the outcome of the poll will amaze you. The purpose of the poll conducted was to find out people’s opinion as to who should assume leadership roles an automotive company or organization.
After a few weeks, the results were out. As seen in the picture, the poll conducted clearly shows that talent strategy in automotive needs to shift gear and go beyond physical makeup. While (3%) of the respondents claimed that women should lead, majority (93%) of the respondents agree that leadership roles should be occupied by whoever is capable to lead.
In the 20th century however, the automotive industry grew to become a highly sought after global industrial powerhouse. An engine which propelled economic growth and prosperity, and was epitomized by generations of hard-driving “command and control” leaders, and was male dominated. Sadly, it has been hard to let go of this narrative. The good news therefore is that many leading automotive companies and beyond presently seek out opportunities to reiterate their stand as regards the issue of embracing diversity.
Certainly, more and more women need platforms and opportunities to lead. During the spring meetup in March, a survey was conducted, according to Dr Miranda K. B, women influence almost 80% of key #automotive business decisions, yet they ONLY account for a staggering 16% of managerial positions.
The Spring Meetup which also celebrated women’s day, provided solutions, inspiration and actionable insights on how more women can rise through the ranks in their automotive career
For example, the Women Automotive Summit, a virtual event dedicated to bringing together the latest game changers and industry leaders, which holds this June (22nd and 23rd) has witnessed an array of leading automotive brands supporting it. Click to view agenda.
Initiatives like The Women Automotive Summit have been at the forefront of promoting this welcoming balance.
Why is the discussion of diversity in the automotive industry crucial? The reason is simple: The automotive industry has rapidly become one of the topmost industries to work in. A research from industry employer figures shows that the best car companies are now taking progressive steps towards sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and are beginning to make careers in automotive more accessible to women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME), who are presently underrepresented in the motor industry. The man behind the research, Prof Saker, of the School of Business and Economics (SBE), said: “Before COVID-19 the automotive industry already faced a skills crisis. The pandemic has just served to accelerate that issue –”.
Obviously, automotive is at the forefront of some of the most exciting innovation to affect everyone’s lives, and the opportunities abound. If you’ve ever dreamed of a job that combines luxury materials, sustainability and cutting-edge technology, then your dream role might be within an industry that you hadn’t previously considered – the automotive industry; and guess what? Now is a good time to apply.
Holding image credit: bizlibrary
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