World Automotive Conference in Istanbul highlights women's role in industry

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

The 5th World Automotive Conference (WAC) 2018 kicked off in Istanbul yesterday.

The event brought together prominent figures of the global automotive industry and shared the latest developments in the sector, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the "internet of things" (IoT).

The two-day event also highlights the increasing role of women who shape the automotive industry, which does not perform well in terms of female employment.

In 2018, women accounted for only 16 percent of the executives in the top 20 motor vehicles and parts companies in the Fortune Global 500 - a small change from 14 women in 2014. Over half of the top 20 companies in this industry have zero women on their executive teams, according to a report by 20-First April 2018 report. 20-First is one of the world's leading gender diversity consultancies.

Another report prepared by Deloitte Turkey and Automotive Manufacturers Association in Turkey show that 25 percent of white-collar workers in the Turkish automotive industry is female. In a poll conducted with 1,143 female employees in Turkish automotive sector, 85 percent of participants highlighted that lack of female leadership in the industry and 78 percent of them underscored that there are not enough numbers of female executives in their companies.

In a bid to highlight the significance of ensuring gender diversity in the automotive industry around the world, WAC 2018 Consultant Özlem Derici Şengül referred to recent studies which put forward that there is a positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and performance.

"As for the automotive industry, women participation in European Union (EU) countries in the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers is less than 25 percent while they are only about one fourth in the U.S. automotive industry despite the astonishing fact that nearly two thirds of new car buyers, 65 percent, are women," Şengül said and added that rates are almost the same in white-collar segment of Turkish automotive industry as well.

Chair of the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) Sanem Oktar stressed that women all over the world have to work harder than their male counterparts in order to advance in their careers and reach managerial positions, a fact same for the automotive industry and technology-intensive sectors.

KAGİDER Chair said studies demonstrate that having more women at managerial positions strengthens any company's competitive edge. "In many cases, women managers or executives show high loyalty to their companies and they can extract higher performances from their staff," she added. The KAGİDER's Equal Opportunities Certificate program, executed in cooperation with the World Bank, also includes participant companies from the automotive industry. "This industry mostly employs male employees and managers and I believe it is time to change this situation," Oktar said.

Christy Roman, who is the founder of the Women in Automotive group, will be speaking at a session titled Women in the Automotive Industry. Women in Automotive is particularly interested in empowering and developing women in the auto industry. The philosophy is that this benefits both the women and the dealerships and will help facilitate the training and hiring of more women in dealerships.

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