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‘Why diversity, equity in automotive workforce must thrive’

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As the auto industry continues to be challenged by a deepening skill gap, experts have called for inclusion in the automotive workforce.

The experts who reacted to a recent survey titled, ‘Women at the Wheel,’ said despite widening skills and public scrutiny, the sector is still struggling to attract more women to the workforce.

The study was conducted by Deloitte and Automotive News to explore views on diversity, equity and inclusion in the automotive industry. It was aimed at creating a better understanding of opportunities for women to participate in the industry.

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While underscoring a significant discrepancy in the perception of diversity within the automotive industry, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of men, according to the survey, believe there have been positive changes in the sector’s attitude toward female professional employees in the last five years compared to only 39 per cent of women who have seen that same level of progress.

Almost half of the women surveyed consisting of 45 per cent said they would move to a different industry if they were to start a career today. Nearly two-thirds of women (64 per cent) cited lack of diversity and inclusion as the number one reason they do not consider a career in the automotive industry, compared to only 22 per cent of men.

According to the study, all women surveyed comprising 91 per cent believed that there is an industry bias towards men for leadership positions. Nearly half of men (47 per cent) hold the same view.

It stated that men and women have different opinions on whether diversity, equity and inclusion in the automotive industry have improved in the last five years while an increasing number of women feel it is stagnant or is getting worse.

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The number of women who believe there has been little change in advancing diversity has more than doubled from 15 per cent in 2015 to 35 per cent in 2020.

While reacting to the survey, Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Jody Stidham, said as the auto industry gets increasingly challenged by a widening skills gap, diversity, equity and inclusion have never been more important.

Stidham said the automotive industry is in a unique era as companies realign businesses for the future in the face of disruptive forces while coping with economic headwinds.

Managing Editor, Automotive News, Mary Beth Vander Schaaf, said the study showed that a quarter of the men do not see the business benefit of having diverse leadership. The bright side is the majority of men do understand the value in diversity, she said.

Schaaf said: “Including input from people with different perspectives leads to better decisions. During this transformative time, auto industry leaders should put the pedal to the metal in their efforts to attract and retain women.”

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