Gender diversity in the automobile industry

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 08 Mar 2013 Views icon31216 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The past decade has shifted the spotlight on Asia and its role as an emerging power. Manufacturing has played a key role in the growth story of most economies in Asia. The manufacturing sector, in most rapidly developing economies, contributes to 25-40 percent of the GDP. The Indian manufacturing sector, according to CII’s 2012 Manufacturing Summit Report compiled by BCG, on the other hand has focused on an aggressive growth of 12-15 percent, creating over 100 million incremental jobs and an ambitious growth target of 25 percent of GDP by 2022. While the manufacturing slowdown has intensified, the long-term growth picture remains intact.

Considering this as the backdrop of the economic situation, the opportunities for diversity in all sectors, including the auto industry, seem extremely positive to accelerate growth. However, one wonders where the real challenges are. Early on, in the manufacturing sector at large, and the auto industry in specific, women were few in number, and this number almost seems to have a correlation with the number of women drivers on Indian roads.

The scenario sped by to unravel a decade that has seen a revolution in the head count of women at the workplace, be it manufacturing, engineering, finance or IT. The women hired in the 1990s were most likely to be the only ones in their team, often with high visibility and low authority. While it was a challenge to penetrate the male bastion of core production areas, women’s contributions in primary functions, ability to nurture, build and lead strong teams were gradually recognised and appreciated.

While gender diversity in the auto industry is lower compared to other industries like IT and service, one can see slow change seeping in. The auto industry must acknowledge and encourage this change and create an atmosphere conducive to nurture diversity. Women are today highly educated and bring with them refreshingly different perspectives and new competencies and have bridged the gap that used to exist between genders. Today the industry is endeavouring to get in place the best of talent and is focussed on achieving excellence. It is, therefore, important for the industry to ensure that it taps the best of talent, irrespective of gender, and make women important and valued members of their team.

The World Economic Forum for the past few years has brought about greater awareness on gender diversity at workplace and has urged corporations across the world to consciously bridge the gender gap. Globalisation has erased borders and cultural mindsets. Many MNCs in the auto industry have shown well-articulated commitment towards gender equality and have introduced balanced policies, which have proven to boost productivity and improve morale of employees. Notably, many international auto companies have women in their sales force, manufacturing functions and senior management. When women make up for more than half of human talent and with the possibility of 100 million incremental jobs by 2022, sheer logic drives us towards gender diversity, or should we say, gender parity. Therefore, embracing this need for change and working towards this is the right way to approach the situation.

On this note, this past week, we launched TWIN (TAFE Women’s Interest Network), an organisation-wide initiative, introduced to “empower the women of TAFE and liberate their potential, thereby enriching their lives and enhancing their professional development and holistic growth”, which in turn shall add value to their respective teams and, thus, the organisation at large.

‘TWIN’ is an inspiration for the woman within, to tell the world there is ‘more’ to her than meets the eye. This forum focuses on developing potential of employees through interactions that discuss their needs, requirements, aspirations and dreams; and also by interacting with them in person, whenever the need arises. With women’s empowerment as a primary agenda of various global leading community initiatives, it is indeed the call of the hour to provide appropriate channels and platforms for women to grow, develop and excel.

At TAFE, we have women in our R&D, Supply Chain, Parts, Service and Marketing teams besides other departments, and we shall work towards permeating diversity across the organisation.

Diversity is full of opportunities, and encouraging diversity is a thought process that is a proactive response to change that considers without bias, the skill sets and perspectives that women bring to the work place. An inclusive leadership style is key to embracing a change of this magnitude.

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