Some 40% of women working in automotive would choose a different industry if they could go back in time, research from Deloitte has found.

Interviewing over 110 women between June and September 2020, findings from the report entitled Women at the Wheel point towards inadequate promotional opportunities for women, alongside poor representation at senior level.

The findings also revealed that 50% of women would leave the automotive industry altogether due to lack of promotion, organisational cultural norms, poor work-life balance and an uncertain industry future.

The study was conducted in attempts to establish how individuals, organisations and the industry can drive greater gender diversity and inclusion through the retention and advancement of women working in the automotive industry.

Whilst 71% of women believe there has been positive change over the last 5 years, 90% feel they are under-represented in leadership positions.

Sarah Noble, director of automotive at Deloitte, commented: “Our research found that the majority of women have seen positive changes in attitudes towards female employees over the last five years. However, under-representation at a leadership level is still strongly felt. In a predominantly male industry with few female role models at the top, male allies remain critical to the success of gender diversity initiatives.”

Of the women surveyed, 57% do not see a career path to get to the level they want within the industry. Some 42% of women believe there is an industry bias towards men in the selection for leadership roles, which is attributable to discriminatory organisational cultures.

Noble continued: “We know that a lack of promotional opportunities, poor work-life balance and organisational cultural norms are the top factors that would cause a female employee to leave the automotive industry.”

Amidst the chaos of coronavirus, a positive has emerged for women in the sector. Noble explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already emerging: normalising flexible working and bringing greater awareness around caring responsibilities. As automotive companies embrace these changes on a more permanent basis, it is also clear that gender diversity can also help gain competitive advantage.”

Despite this pandemic induced progress, half of women still feel unprepared to navigate the future of the industry, and this is particularly prevalent in traditional back office functions.

Noble concluded: “The long-term success of any company requires a strong focus on people, yet the automotive industry remains behind many other industries when it comes to gender diversity. Focusing on recruitment, retention and opportunity will be key to making long-term change possible.”