How CDK Global is working with the Automotive 30% Club to aim for a better gender balance

We are so pleased that our Patron member CDK Global are sponsors of the Automotive 30% Club Inspiration for Innovation Network 2020-2021.

In this article, we will take a look at how CDK Global is working with the Automotive 30% Club to aim for a better gender balance.

The automotive and technology industries have long held traditional images of who fits as a model employee. Both industries have been perceived as the perfect place for those who have a passion for cars and a love for all things technology-based and in turn, this has led to those environments being male-dominated. In the UK currently, women account for only 16% of the UK auto manufacturing workforce and make-up only 17% of tech-focused roles.

As a leader in automotive technology, CDK Global want to redress this balance and

create opportunities for tomorrow’s workforce based on problem-solving and personal skills, not just on technical knowledge or familiarity with the latest SUV to hit the market. Let’s note here that at CDK Global the senior leadership team is made up of 38% women, and that’s a positive increase by 12% from 2018, this greater focus on employees has been one of the contributors to revenue growth.

Under the broader umbrella of diversity and inclusion, as a worldwide company, CDK Global clearly encompasses the practice of including people from a huge range of ethnic backgrounds. What we want to focus on as part of the Automotive 30% Club’s ‘30 by 30’ strategy is how as a company they are addressing specifically gender balance and the representation of diverse women in their UK operations.

Talent pool constraints are a major influence on a company’s ability to improve and maintain gender diversity and the low number of women in tech is a very pressing issue at the moment. Underrepresentation of women in the talent pool means that there are far fewer women to choose from in the first instance, so this needs addressing at its roots. We acknowledge of course that diversity is a much wider issue than just gender.

So, as we bear that underrepresentation in mind, we should realise that we can’t simply concentrate on the here and now, we need employers to focus on how to influence that talent pipeline by starting early in our schools and communities, to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) across the board to reap the positive benefits into the future.

CDK Global decided to build its reputation as an inclusive company that promotes opportunities for women, both in terms of opening opportunities for future talent, but also for supporting existing employees and leaders. They invested in outreach activities to support the female talent pipeline in automotive and technology by raising awareness and educating school, college and university students on the variety of career opportunities that exist for young women to pursue.

One key activity was to sponsor the Automotive 30% Club Outreach Network (now rebranded as the Inspiration for Innovation Network), which empowered CDK Global employees to engage with youngsters in schools as role models. This sponsorship also enabled other companies to participate along with CDK Global in three large-scale events in schools, and develop their outreach activities as a collective goal to improve awareness of careers in the automotive industry, especially for female students. The events delivered a transformative experience to 700 youngsters, and 84% of them stated afterwards that they had a greater understanding of the importance of a gender-balanced workforce.

CDK Global volunteers were highly motivated by the outreach activities and the experience of engaging with students helped them with professional development. Furthermore, many of the volunteers have since been involved in panel debates and open discussions to raise the voice of women and awareness of challenges internally. The sponsorship has been a catalyst for more regular discussions at an executive leadership level with opportunities for women at CDK Global now a key part of the business agenda moving forward.

Additional outreach activities that took place as a result of the sponsorship included a Personal Brand Masterclass for young Girlguiding Advocates, a motivational speech to female engineers at Imperial College, a speech to the Women’s Economics Society at the University of Edinburgh, and six Volvo, Toyota and Kia volunteers took the role of mentors in the Girls’ Day School Trust Techathon with 100 girls from 22 schools.

This is a great start to supporting early education and an important strategic decision to nurture future talent by the company. This activity continues through 2020-2021 with the aforementioned sponsorship from CDK Global supporting our network of I4I volunteers to complete virtual visits for schools across the UK as well as inspirational and transformative online digital festivals for each of the three partner schools associated with the Inspiration for Innovation Network.

Strategically, CDK Global has sought the advice and taken onboard guidance from Julia Muir, CEO of Gaia Innovation and Founder of the Automotive 30% Club to help build a bespoke plan to assist in successfully implementing and maintaining gender diversity in their business. This spans from gathering internal data as a starting point to the process, gathering knowledge of the actual level of gender inequality in the business through to finding new sources of skills, productivity, equitable recruiting, proportionate promotion of women through the talent pipeline internally, as well as how to maintain gender balance in the business and therefore preserving that investment in people.

CDK Global is a progressive company moving on from awareness to action and overcoming systemic challenges in regard to gender diversity. As gender balance has become part of mainstream discourse, somewhat thanks to media attention triggered by #MeToo and #TimesUp, this helps gender balance advocates secure a voice on the organisational agenda, which is a very encouraging development.


Article by: Danielle Humphreys – Inspiration for Innovation Network Manager


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