Nissan says it is releasing new data on gender diversity and launching a year-long webinar series, SheShares to driver forward inclusion in the automotive industry.
The details of its new programme, as well as the first webinar, were published to mark last week’s International Women’s Day.
Across the Africa, Middle East and Indian (AMI) region, year-on-year growth between FY19 and FY20 led to a 14.8% increase in representation by women in senior roles, said Nissan.
It added that between FY16 and FY20 representation by women within senior roles in AMI increased by 141%: “In the Middle East, the Nissan Middle East office is now leading the way forward in an effort to close the gender gap, with female representation presently accounting for 30% of all staff.”
SheShares is an extension of Nissan’s wider diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy introduced in 2020.
“Designed to engage members of the wider Nissan team in key discussions surrounding the implications of diversity and inclusion, these initiatives reinforce the important space D&I occupies within the company’s Nissan NEXT transformation plan,” said an accompanying statement by Nissan.
Nissan is currently focussed on creating equitable representation by women at the company and across the corporate sector.
The first SheShares panel, ‘Rise of Women in the Automotive Sector – A Business Approach,’ featured Patricia Torres, global Hhead of Sustainable Finance Solutions, Bloomberg; Julia Saini, PhD, global lead, Automotive & Mobility, Frost & Sullivan; and was moderated by Cyba Audi, senior anchor and editor-at-large, Asharq-Bloomberg. Additionally, Lavanya Wadgaonkar, head of global communications, Nissan; and Barbara Thierart-Perrin, VP, Product Planning, Nissan AMIO.
Together, the group used the first session to share their stories and provide an account of their personal experiences as women working within the automotive sector, such as the challenges faced by women within the automotive sector, the impact low female participation has on the bottom line, “and the need for companies to closely evaluate what works and doesn’t work when it comes to attracting, retaining, and promoting women within the sector.”
“In 2021 we call for a gender-neutral approach, one based on meritocracy, where our achievements are determined by our merits and not pre-assigned at birth,” said Cyba Audi.
Frost & Sullivan’s Julia Saini added job descriptions and roles do not necessarily take into consideration the female workforce, “too often they are archaic and based on a historically predominant male workforce – this can lead women refusing roles, promotions and leadership roles with companies ultimately losing out on talent.
“Companies also need to develop apprenticeships that are specifically designed to bring women into the workforce – and eliminate the bias in the workforce.”
“Women should take charge of their career. They should seek mentors and most importantly sponsors who can position them in the network. This will widen their relationships within the organizations through connections,” said Lavanya Wadgaonkar, head, Global Communications, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. “Additionally, vulnerability is not a weakness and we should accept that being a normal human being is a great trait to have.”
Nissan’s Barbara Thierart-Perrin said the industry needed to identify female talent early, grow them and “be there for them to show they do not have to choose between personal life or professional life, they can find a way. To have more women as leaders, we need to give them a chance by pushing & supporting the young ones for their first management position. This is a key career moment. If not they miss the train.”
The discussion also explored the growing female customer base within the automotive industry, “fuelled by the increasingly important role women are playing in car-buying decisions globally.”
“The objectives laid out as part of our wider D&I strategy have enabled us to forge a clear path ahead in our mission to advance diversity and inclusion not only within our own business, but across the wider ecosystem,” said Guillaume Cartier, vice-chair, AMIEO Region and president, AMIO Region, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
“As women now influence 80% of car-buying decisions, they represent a growing base of our customers in the region and across the globe. Yet, between three in four women feel misunderstood by automotive companies, prompting the need to ensure we are continuously enhancing our approach through new initiatives and programmes that stem well beyond our internal culture.
“To date, we have seen our endeavours have a distinctly positive impact on our ability to reach more women by responding to the needs of our female customers.”
Driver’s Notes: Providing a voice for women
In parallel to SheShares, Nissan will also be rolling out quarterly breakfast discussion sessions designed to nurture engagement between female employees across the region and their respective market leads. Titled D&I Circles, these sessions will provide a voice to women by offering a platform through which they can openly communicate with the leadership team. Taking into consideration the thoughts and feedback received during each discussion, these sessions will then lead to actionable recommendations led by a representative from the Women at Nissan (W@N) team.
Raeda Alsarayreh, director, Corporate Communications, AMIO Region and Chair of Women at Nissan, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. said: “Over the course of the next several months, SheShares will serve to strengthen a culture of respect found within Nissan – one of our key Nissan Way values and a fundamental aspect of diversity.
“From a regional standpoint, we have seen initiatives like these not only actively support contributions by people from different backgrounds, but also play a vital role in enabling innovation and increased collaboration among employees. Even beyond the impact on our internal culture, these initiatives help to underline the importance of a robust diversity and inclusion strategy that can help drive forward more representation by women in our industry.”