Alex Smith, MD, Volkswagen Group UK - Patron of the Automotive 30% Club [photograph]
“Those of us who have spent our working lives in the automotive industry know that this is a results-driven business, and ensuring that the companies we lead stand out as diverse, representative meritocracies is a target we can all surely commit to.”

Whilst vehicle technology continues to power ahead and the retail experience continues to evolve at pace, the representation of women in leadership positions in the automotive industry continues to indicate that there is much more to be achieved in making the sector an attractive destination for all. This is despite the automotive industry containing an almost infinite variety of specialisms, and having a voracious thirst for talent as it transitions to an electrified, connected and ultimately autonomous future.

Volkswagen Group UK has embedded a comprehensive diversity and inclusion emphasis, from re-designing policies to increase flexibility to introducing Employee Network Groups focussing on gender diversity, needs of parents and carers, LGBTQ+ inclusion as well as disability and neurodiversity.

“We have a focus on intersectionality. None of us is ‘just one thing’. By keeping the dialogue open and honest with all our Employee Network Groups we give ourselves the best chance of fostering a truly inclusive environment that attracts the talent that we need to fuel the automotive evolution.” A key challenge is ensuring that the attractiveness of our industry, including the wide communication of the variety of roles available, is maximised especially at those crucial moments when career plans are forming, and people take their first work-life steps. Here Volkswagen Group UK works closely with the Automotive 30% Club in outreach programmes in the secondary education sector, complementing our ongoing programmes at all educational levels.

“It’s really essential that we leverage our considerable depth of female high achievers to create aspiration amongst those who have yet to formulate a career plan. We need to be convincing a much more diverse pool of talent that automotive is a sector that will deliver for ambitious people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or background.”