Marta Leja
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Driving gender equality, one company at a time

In the race to create tomorrow’s electric and self-driving vehicles, the old rules of the road no longer apply.   

Rivals like Ford and Volkswagen and BMW and Mercedes are eschewing decades of competition and ploughing billions of dollars into joint ventures to gain the technological edge.

And with Uber, Lyft, Tesla and a host of other upstarts stealing market share, traditional players from Fiat to Ferrari to Continental and Goodyear are talking about themselves as ‘mobility companies’, not as automakers or auto-parts manufacturers.

But according to research, they’re all missing one vital component. Women.

According to Deloitte, women account for only 27 percent of the U.S. auto manufacturing workforce, compared to making up about 47 percent of the overall labor force. Despite the need for forward thinking in the auto (sorry — ‘mobility’) industry, its recruiting and retention trends seem to be moving backwards.    

So, what can auto companies do to counter these trends? 

They can start by creating a culture that is conducive to gender diversity. Many women in the auto industry feel like the sector could be stagnating or slipping back in efforts to encourage, attract, retain and develop women. To overcome these obstacles, companies should promote better work-life balance and flexible schedules. They also need to invest in the professional development of their employees, ensuring that they have the skills and training to become leaders in their organizations.  

Another strategy to recruit more women is to engage male allies. According to research conducted by Fairygodboss, the overwhelming majority of men are eager to help women advance in the workplace. However, they are unsure of what they can do to help women. They stated that they would like their female colleagues to communicate with them more, and tell them what they could do to become effective allies. Encouraging dialogue between women’s networks and male allies within auto companies can help foster a more welcoming environment and attract more diverse candidates. The industry desperately needs them. By extension, these conversations can also help teams work better together, encourage women’s career development and boost revenues, as proven by research by McKinsey & Company

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