Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry
February 24, 2021
The world is growing and expanding at a rapid rate, and the auto industry is especially at a crossroads in regard to corporate diversity and inclusion across leading brands. The expansion of women and diversity, inclusion, and equality in the automotive industry is more important than ever.
Not only is the world opening up to include equality as a primary tenet for many corporate brands and entities, but consumers are also starting to demand diversity as a prerequisite.
Leadership positions, branding representation, and even opportunity for investment can differ greatly for people of color – particularly women. Auto retailers are striving to change this is a major way, and some brands are leading the way when it comes to trailblazing corporate diversity and inclusion.
Read on to learn more about key findings from women at the wheel in regard to diversity, equality, and inclusion in the automotive industry.
Corporate Bias in the Automotive Industry
Women make up just half of the general labor force, but only a quarter of the automobile industry is made up of women. Professionals in an industry can dictate the entire culture, discourse, and success of the commercial sphere as a whole.
Adding more diversity into the mix is a proven way to maintain a competitive advantage by:
- Reducing groupthink
- Bringing a wide variety of ideas to the table
- Preventing an echo chamber of similar thoughts and practices
- Keeping a company fresh and progressive in virtually any industry
Eliminating this gender discrepancy can completely revolutionize the automotive sphere as we know it. Giving an equal opportunity to everyone provides a path for the most talented individuals, of any demographic, to enter the doors of top auto brands.
More than 90 percent of women believe that corporate bias toward men adds to the lack of diversity in the industry. Men, on the other hand, think that this trend is a result of a shortage of qualified candidates.
In the past five years, there has been a major shift in the way automotive professionals think in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the car business. But, women participating in these studies suggest that there is still a lot of catching up to do.
Progressive Innovation, Scalability, and Growth
As it stands, auto brands have been overwhelmingly male and are still struggling to attract women to this growing but stigmatized industry. According to Tesla’s recent report on diversity and inclusion, even electric brands are behind the times.
Additionally, this discrepancy is a major reason why many women who are currently in the auto industry would change spheres if given the chance to start again. Additionally, almost two-thirds of women in automotive express a lack of diversity and inclusion as the main reason why they don’t want a career in the industry to begin with.
This lack of talent inclusion has led to a lack of innovation and growth among many leading brands. In comparison, brands that show a value of diversity and inclusion typically offer better:
- Work/life balance
- Promotion opportunities
- Growth potential
- Perks and benefits
Along with that, those who work in more equitable organizations can experience a faster path toward creative development, innovation, and overall scalability as a whole.
Diversity and Employee Inclusivity in Automotive
Changing up the internal structure of an organization doesn’t just affect the people who work there. Customers and potential clients can carry a heavy opinion of inequitable brands, and this can affect those brands’ bottom lines in a big way.
Inclusion and diversity in automotive workplaces is not a “benefit” or “perk,” but rather a fundamental tenet upon which an entire company is built and organized. Additionally, there are multiple strata used to explain each level, and how valuable these pillars are for new applicants and current employees.
Corporate social responsibility is a major buzzword in 2021, and the impact of systemic racism and discrimination in recent events has brought this issue to the attention of mainstream consumers. From civil rights to social justice to brand recognition, exclusivity poses a risk to the integrity and growth of both large and established brands.
More than 86% of the youngest members of the employment pool cite a clear commitment to workplace diversity would impact their decision to work with a certain company – or apply for certain roles within that organization.
While at least a quarter of the men who participated in this recent report didn’t cite inclusivity as an important aspect of the modern workplace, the majority understood the value of diversity in regard to decision-making and growth over time.
Customer Perspectives Regarding Automotive Diversity
Inclusivity in the automotive industry isn’t just directed at attracting, maintaining, and supporting current workers and staff within top car brands. This critical piece of any company’s mission can also impact the way consumers view their brand, services, and products.
Simply put, the world is valuing equality more than ever before – and this is playing a huge role in customer decision making.
Whether they’re shopping for an alternative energy vehicle, fully electric, or a standard gas-powered 4X4, customers are more inclined to shop from brands that align with their own personal values.
A recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that diverse companies are 45% more likely to increase their market share on a year over year basis. This metric covers a variety of factors, including:
- Two-dimensional diversity: Ex. Gender identity and work experience
- Inherent traits: Gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.
- Acquired traits: Experience, innovation, professional status, etc.
Diversity stems from a wide range of criteria that, when applied congruently, can create a completely new and innovative corporate culture – and customers notice these changes more than brands might expect.
Across virtually every commercial industry, there is a positive relationship between diversity and customer retention. Promoting inclusivity is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost consumer engagement and sales conversions.
Leadership Decisions Define Corporate Culture
The people who run a company have a lot of power over the growth and future of that company’s culture, customer satisfaction rate, and overall reputation. As a result, prioritizing a diverse workforce can reflect positively on that company’s leadership – as well as the organization as a whole.
Everything from the dress code to promotional benefits to employee turnover is impacted by the integrity of a company’s business culture. These facets of any organization are also incredibly influenced by who works there.
Including more women and people of color into the leadership tiers of these top automotive brands is the first step toward recreating a previously exclusive corporate sphere. Leadership defines the corporate structure, and the workforce responds to those pillars and standards in kind.
Opening up the manufacturing, design, and even merchandising facets of the auto industry to everyone is an essential component that is driving consumer interest, talent retention, and innovation over time.
As with any expanding industry, it’s always important to read the room. Today, the workforce and consumer sphere at large is tired of putting up with homogenous and exclusive organizations that don’t represent the contemporary world as a whole. The automotive market is no different, and the intersection of technology, innovation, and growth is brewing the perfect environment for a major cultural shift.
General Motors and Toyota are two of the brands that are spearheading this change in the commercial dynamic, and the rest of the automotive industry needs to take note fast. The more we’re learning about each other and who makes up the world around us, the more consumers are paying attention to the brands and companies they’re spending money on.
Employees are also taking notice, and this is having the largest impact on the companies that are currently leading the automotive market. By facilitating an inclusive and open workspace, auto brands can also open their potential worker pool to the best talent across all demographics. Limiting commercial talent to certain groups, in short, will only harm the brand in the long run.
As brands across the entire online and physical marketplace adapt to these long-overdue societal and cultural changes, their bottom line, reputation, and recognition as a whole are showing the effects. When it comes to the companies that are still behind the curve, the market is reaching a now-or-never point of no return.
These are just a few of the aspects that are driving inclusivity and diversity initiatives throughout the automotive industry. Women and people of color are starting to show a higher interest in this growing sphere, and this is a direct result of these values being applied internally from the top down.
Stay tuned with your favorite leading auto manufacturers to see the wave take over, or watch brands that don’t get on board get left in the dust.