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Catalysts for Change: Making moves in the automotive industry

Last week, I came across this article which revealed that nearly 70 per cent of car buyers have never bought a car from a woman. Throughout my career in business development and tech, I’m often the only woman in the sales team, so hearing about another field where women are still the minority really hit home for me.

I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunities to voice my experience as a woman in business, and to open up the floor for others to do the same, so I jumped at the chance to moderate a panel session as part of AutomotiveEV’s Electrifying the Future event. The purpose of the session was to discuss Catalysts for Change within the industry, from building a greener future to encouraging more female talent to apply for roles in automotive.

I was both excited and honoured to moderate a panel of formidable women spanning different roles in automotive across Spain, Israel and the US. I spoke with Cheryl Thompson, Founder and CEO, Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement (CADIA)Orlie Gruper, Executive Director at EcoMotion, and Sonia White, Global Brand and Communications Director at Delphi Technologies, about how we can effect real change within the industry.

It’s clear that the UK automotive industry has some serious catching up to do when it comes to diversity, from production lines all the way up to the boardroom. The scale and pace of innovation within this sector requires a diverse set of skills, perspectives and experience, and the industries future success hinges on our ability to attract the best and brightest talent, irrespective of background, race or gender.

One of the biggest hurdles the industry faces is ensuring that men are both involved and engaged in the diversity conversation, in order to support positive change. To get men on board, Cheryl recommends starting by identifying the business case. There is a tonne of data available globally to show that companies are more profitable and successful when they have a diverse leadership team, and when wider teams are more inclusive.

We also need to clearly define the barriers and challenges that are facing women in the first place, so that we can make men aware of them. By bringing these challenges to life, we can engage men to help solve them. Orlie insists it’s time for the industry to “rebrand” itself and adopt a more open minded, modern approach that will attract a more diverse pool of talent.

While steps have been taken to hire more women in senior leadership roles, the reality is that there are still so few. What will it take to create real, long lasting change?

Some major investors have made public statements pledging their commitment to the diversity agenda, threatening to pull funding if a company doesn’t meet diversity requirements. Sonia also points out we need to make the industry more attractive to a broader spectrum of people, whether that’s at graduate, entry level, or the c-suite. We need to redesign the application process from the ground up, from reworking job adverts and job descriptions to make them more appealing, to offering greater flexibility in roles.

The future of the automotive industry is in our hands, and to reach its full potential, we need diverse teams.For advice on how to communicate D&I values internally and externally, how to mobilise the C-suite to speak on this sensitive issue, and how to empower diverse spokespeople within your organisation – please feel free to get in touch

You can watch the full discussion here by navigating to Thursday’s session, Leader Insights – Catalysts For Change.