Kia Motors UK – Implementing “30 by 30”

Paul Philpott, President and CEO, Kia Motors UK

Paul Philpott, CEO and President of Kia Motors UK, is a founding member of the Automotive 30% Club. The club, founded by Julia Muir in 2016, aims to achieve a greater gender balance across the sector, with the purpose of filling at least 30% of key leadership positions with women by 2030 through a ‘30 by 30’ strategy:


Reach Out - to attract more women

Welcome In - to remove bias in recruitment

Pull Through - to pull women through the promotional pipeline

Hold On - to retain talented women

During the Automotive 30% Club conference, which took place on 28th November, Paul stated that Kia Motors UK had adopted the Club’s 30 by 30 strategy and outlined the actions they are taking to align with it.

Reach Out 

Kia Motors are well known as a global sponsor of sports such as tennis and football which they have been backing since 2002. In 2014, Kia Motors UK took the decision to extend their local activities to women’s sports by sponsoring the England Women’s Cricket team; at the time Kia was their first ever commercial partner. At the conference Paul spoke with conviction that it’s a great way to raise brand awareness but confirmed that the sponsorship also has to be credible. It’s easy to sign the contract and pay for the sponsorship, but is it credible with what you are doing in your other activities and how do you get your sponsorship to work at a grassroots level? This is the difference between a simple advertising message and being true allies and advocates of women’s sport.

The England Women’s Cricket team went win the World Cup in 2017 narrowly beating India in the final, demonstrating the massive growth in women’s sport. Kia Motors UK then went on to launch a second activity in women’s cricket in 2016 when it launched the ‘Kia Super League’ T20 tournament which was then televised live on Sky, giving women’s sport a far greater profile. 

Taking it one stage further from international cricket down to grassroots, in 2019 they launched the Kia Summer Smash -  a grassroots women’s tournament. 48 women’s cricket teams from across the country took part, resulting in the four regional winners playing at finals day at the Kia Oval. This tournament was supported with targeted national advertorials in the Telegraph, raising the profile of women’s sport and promoting Kia as a key advocate.

Kia have been a sponsor of the men’s football FIFA World Cup since 2002. In 2019 they extended their sponsorship to the Women's World Cup, and Kia supported this further by running a competition to become an official match ball carrier. Here’s what they achieved:


For additional Reach Out actions Kia employees; Karen Fagan, Kim Wiggins, Moyo Fujamade, and Maaike de Vries recently took part in the Automotive 30% Club’s Inspiring Automotive Women Reach Out activities. They attended Sunbury Manor School and the Three Rivers Academy to present and run a workshop for almost 100 female pupils, all with the aim of them gaining a greater understanding of the wide variety of jobs available within the automotive sector. 

Kia have also completed a further 15 presentations to school pupils on behalf of the Automotive 30% Club between 2017 and 2018, talking about the many career opportunities within the sector.

Welcome In 

Kia have challenged their recruitment and induction process by upgrading their job descriptions and have reviewed their recruitment advertising.  They have improved their induction programme for new recruits and are planning an overhaul of the careers section on their website. In addition, they have implemented a new job grading for all roles to increase transparency for progression. As a company, Kia Motors UK have seen a 25% increase in female external applicants from 2015 to 2019. In addition, over the last 5 years, Kia have welcomed 30 interns, of which an impressive 57 % have been women.

Pull Through

Paul noted he was recently taken by the McKinsey Women in the Workplace report which detailed: ‘In reality, the biggest obstacle that women face is much earlier in the pipeline, at the first step up to Manager. Fixing this “broken rung” is the key to achieving parity’ 

Kia have developed two programmes which facilitate this. The Future Field Development Programme is an 18 month programme which covers a whole range of activities with the underlying goal of equipping employees with skills they will need to further develop. 60% of the current cohort are female.

The Aspiring Managers Programme, which sees 26 non manager employees taking part, 50% of which are female, prepares them to get on to the first rung of the management ladder.

Hold On

Paul fully agrees flexible working is key, noting a better work life balance is critical. Kia Motors UK have responded and listened to the real needs of their staff, introducing flexible working for all employees. Kia have also launched ‘Strive’ a lean-in group for female employees which provides a network and community for women across all levels of the business. It gives them a chance to get together and articulate the challenges they face to bring to board level to encourage, overall, a greater diversity.

Paul concludes by confirming Kia will be using the 8th March (International Women’s Day) as another key date in their calendar to raise the profile of everything they are doing internally to achieve a greater gender balance.

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