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Deloitte and Automotive News Study Finds the Need for Change in Driving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Automotive Workforce

Women continue to represent an underutilized resource for automotive companies looking to gain a competitive advantage.

New York, Nov. 9, 2020—

Key takeaways

  • Underscoring a significant discrepancy in the perception of diversity within the automotive industry, nearly two-thirds (64%) of men believe there have been positive changes in the sector’s attitude toward female professional employees in the last five years, compared to only 39% of women who have seen that same level of progress.
  • Almost half of women surveyed (45%) said they would move to a different industry if they were to start their career today.
  • Nearly two-thirds of women (64%) cite a lack of diversity and inclusion as the No. 1 reason they don’t consider a career in the automotive industry, compared to only 22% of men.
  • Almost all women surveyed (91%) believe that there is an industry bias towards men for leadership positions; nearly half of men (47%) hold the same belief.

Why this matters
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up about half of the labor force, but only a quarter of the automotive manufacturing workforce. For the past several years, Deloitte and Automotive News have been working together to shine a light on gender issues in the global automotive industry, while celebrating the women that are forging a path for others to follow. The “Women at the Wheel” report launched today explores diversity, equity and inclusion perceptions in the sector to better understand where opportunities for improvement may exist.

The survey, conducted in September 2020 reflects the views of more than 700 professionals representing a wide variety of automotive companies, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers, dealers and captive finance companies.

The need for change
Men and women have differing opinions on whether diversity, equity and inclusion in the automotive industry have improved in the last five years, and an increasing number of women feel it’s stagnating or getting worse over time. In fact, the number of women who believe there has been little change in advancing diversity has more than doubled from 15% in 2015 to 35% in 2020.

The lack of positive changes toward women employees is impacting the industry’s ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce as women consider moving to other sectors more focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as work/life balance and promotion opportunities. The women surveyed noted that if they started their career today, they would explore the high-tech (30%) or health care (20%) industries, as they are perceived as leading sectors for attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. This is compounded further by the fact that although 60% of women in the auto industry have a senior management position in mind as their ultimate career goal, only two-thirds of them see a clear path to get there (compared to 75% of men).

While there is some agreement among men and women on career objectives, there is a significant gap on the importance of three considerations in particular — company culture, career progression and flexible work location and schedules — demonstrating the often disproportionate burden placed on women in navigating societal challenges, many of which have been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, according to most women (64%) surveyed, a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion is the No. 1 issue that prevents people from considering a career in the automotive sector (it ranks sixth among men).

Setting the tone from the top
Women and men have distinct opinions about diversity within their organization’s leadership team, and there also is a disconnect when it comes to factors that most contribute to a lack of diversity in leadership positions.

  • Significantly more women (70%) than men (40%) believe minorities are underrepresented among their company’s senior executives.
  • Nine in 10 women note that an industry bias toward men contributes to a lack of diversity, while men believe that this is due to a lack of qualified candidates (39%).
  • Further, when considering what makes a leader successful in the automotive industry, 46% of women surveyed cite a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, compared with only 26% of men.
  • More women than men also believe there are benefits associated with a diverse leadership team, including better decision making (88% of women compared to 55% of men) and improved financial performance (42% of women compared to 21% of men). Moreover, a quarter of men (26%) don’t see any business benefit associated with creating a diverse leadership team.

Key quotes
“As the auto industry continues to be challenged by a deepening skills gap, diversity, equity and inclusion have never been more important. Yet, setting the right tone of inclusivity at the top can be an uphill climb when 70% of women believe minorities are underrepresented among senior leadership teams. This is a unique time in the automotive industry as companies realign businesses for the future in the face of major disruptive forces, while at the same time, coping with near-term economic headwinds. The challenge for most auto companies lies in translating a nod of the head to the value of diversity, equity and inclusion into impactful actions.”

—Jody Stidham, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP

“The study shows a quarter of the men don’t see the business benefit of having diverse leadership. The bright side is the majority of men do understand the value in diversity. 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.”

—Mary Beth Vander Schaaf, managing editor, Automotive News

Connect with us on Twitter at @DeloitteMFG or via LinkedIn @JodyStidham.

About Automotive News
Since 1925, Automotive News has been the primary source for news happening among automotive retailers, suppliers and manufacturers. Distinct from other publications in the field, Automotive News remains a fully subscriber-paid publication, a testament to the value it delivers to the reader. The award-winning weekly print edition, robust website, email newsletters and video broadcasts are backed by a global team of more than 65 editors and reporters.

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90% of the Fortune 500® and more than 7,000 private companies. Our people work across the industry sectors that drive and shape today’s marketplace — delivering measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to see challenges as opportunities to transform and thrive, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them. Now celebrating 175 years of service, our network of member firms spans more than 150 countries and territories. Learn how Deloitte’s more than 330,000 people worldwide make an impact that matters at

Media contacts:

Anisha Sharma,
Public Relations

Deloitte Services LP
+1 201 290 9119

Ellen M. Dennehy,
Public Relations

Automotive News
+1 313 212 1787

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