The automotive industry has been one of the last bastions of business that it male led and dominated. We have seen changes in recent years with a swing towards women in high-level positions; the data shows that women now comprise 15 to 20% of the MDs and sales director-level positions but it’s still a predominantly male industry. With technology and innovation moving at a rapid pace, if it is to keep up, the automotive industry must look for fresh perspectives, new ideas and different energy in its leaders. This means engaging in a talent attraction strategy that creates an environment and culture that will encourage diversity including women.

Changing leadership styles 

The so-called ‘great man’ authoritarian leadership styles of the past have all but died out. This older style of leadership lingered for some time in the automotive industry with largely white males dictating work, policy and procedure without any meaningful input or interaction from the workforce. 

The purchasing power of women

The automotive council recently published a report entitled “How to close the gender gap to drive business performance”. 

” If the UK automotive industry is to be successful at home and abroad, it must reflect the customers and society it serves.” Mike Hawes – Chair of the Automotive Council UK Competitiveness and Business Environment Working Group

Why do we need women in the automobile industry?  

It’s not just a question of fairness, bringing more women into the industry is a business-based strategy. In 2022, Forbes published an article that claimed that women influence 85% of car-buying decisions. That is a staggering figure and whilst it may not be true for the commercial side of the automotive industry, it indicates that for businesses within the sector to succeed, they need women at the board level to influence sales and marketing decisions. 

Aside from the ethical and moral considerations around talent attraction, simply put there is a strong business case to increase the number of women in the automotive industry. Data published by a McKinsey report evidences the power of a diverse leadership team showing that the top performing quartile of businesses in the US are led by a diverse board that includes women.  

ESG and sustainability

Interwoven with diversity are sustainability and ESG considerations. Clear intentions and initiatives with ESG at the heart are also influencing buyers and investors in multiple sectors and therefore the automotive industry can’t afford to ignore the buying and leadership opportunities that women offer.

How does the automotive industry affect a DE&I strategy?

There is little point in setting off on an identity shopping list style of recruitment. The leadership team in any business must be fully committed to building the culture into an inclusive one. This means educating your current workforce and ensuring any female candidates placed into an automotive business will enter a welcoming environment. This education piece starts at the top so that the leaders understand that attracting women into the industry is not a tick-box exercise, it’s a necessary business step to ensure that the automotive sector can be innovative, agile, and adaptable.