Women Automotive Network meetup advocates change

Women Automotive Network meetup advocates change

As the world commemorated International Women’s Day on 8th March, discussions were ignited around the necessity of building robust support networks for women to thrive in their professional endeavours.

​A recent celebratory meetup, hosted by Women Automotive Network, provided insights into the role of mentorship and advocacy in advancing gender diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry.

​Key speakers from organisations, such as Volvo Group, SMMT, Stellantis, Nissan Motor Corporation, and HARMAN International, is said to have shed light on the significance of positive role models, challenging biases, and fostering authentic leadership to reportedly empower women professionals in their career journeys.

Encouraging diversity at the recruitment stage

​In a key takeaway, Diana Niu, Member of the Group Executive Board and VP Group People & Culture, Volvo Group, highlighted the importance of positive role models in driving inclusion in the workplace, celebrating leaders who actively push for diversity and inclusion, starting from the recruitment process, and who prioritise building relationships that foster a culture where everyone is said to feel included.

​Staying on trend, Maxine Hartley, DE&I Taskforce Chair, SMMT, highlighted the importance of leaders who challenge biases in hiring practices, citing an example of a blind CV that claims to have brought a valuable colleague into the team, breaking stereotypes about older generations.

Fostering and maximising strong personal and professional relationships

​Similarly, during a keynote speech, Maria Uvarova, Senior Vice President of Software Product Management at Stellantis, recognised that: “In tough times when you are growing your career, sometimes you need professional support because of course, every tough situation, every growth opportunity, really pushes you to the limits, and for that, you will need some help.”

The power of authentic leadership

​The significance of authenticity in leadership was also highlighted, with Friederike Kienitz, Senior Vice President Sustainability, Corporate Affairs & Governance, Nissan Motor Corporation, advising upcoming women in the industry to: “Keep being authentic, but try to make it easier for others to follow your journey.”​

She apparently reiterated the importance of confidence, active listening, and daring to take on new challenges to find sponsors and mentors who will support your journey.

Working with diverse mentors, at every career level

Pattie Grimm, Business Transformation and Sales Enablement Professionals, echoed the sentiment, stating: “We should all have a mentor, and we should all have a sponsor.”  She is said to have promoted the need for a diverse mentorship group, highlighting research that shows women should have at least one male mentor.

​Touching on personal experience, Marygracesoleil Ericson, Senior Director, Global PMO Office, Automotive, HARMAN International, revealed the impact of mentorship at every career level: “I actually had three mentors and I still do. I have one social mentor, one technical mentor, and a female mentor who’s also a mother, just like me. These mentors helped me expand my knowledge in the industry.”

Key takeaways

The event is said to have served as a catalyst for collective action, with attendees echoing a resounding call for C-suite involvement, policy reform, grassroots initiatives and tangible actions, such as implementing mentorship programs, buddy systems, and inclusive policies, to drive diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry.​

The Meetup reflects Women Automotive Network’s mission to champion change and pave the way for a more inclusive future, bringing together a reported 312 people from 32 countries, with 207 meetings taking place and 50+ partners supporting the event.

It’s claimed attendees were able to get involved in interactive workshops and listen to panel discussions and keynote speeches, hearing from 13 speakers, all of whom shared their personal insights and experiences in the workplace.

More information on Women Automotive Network’s next event, Women Automotive Summit Detroit (in-person and online) on 4th of June 2024, can be found here.

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