Ford’s chief operating officer in Europe, Barb Samardzich, has called on the industry to embrace the opportunity to attract more women into the sector.
In her keynote speech at last week's Autocar Great British Women in the Car Industry awards event (shown in our video above), Samardzich said: “Today is about celebrating the talent of today and how we can use that talent, all of you, to change our industry, to deliver a more equal and consequently more profitable future."
Speaking more broadly about women’s role in business, Samardzich cited the Harvard Business Review, which says companies with the best record for promoting women into senior positions are up to 69% more profitable. McKinsey says that companies with senior female representation deliver 54% higher earnings, while London Business School research shows that innovation is positively correlated to gender equality.
Addressing the event’s attendees, Samardzich said: “It is up to all of us in this room to showcase the talents we have, to break through the glass ceiling, but not only that, to provide young women with a true picture of the scale, opportunity and frankly the sheer glamour of what we do.”
She also raised the specific issue with the engineering sector, which is Samardzich’s career background: “Within this mix, sits the most stubborn challenge for women: the chronic shortage of women in engineering.”
She talked about the image of an engineer in the car industry as ”a man holding a greasy wrench or spanner”. Samardzich added that “somewhere along the line in the UK, the value, the kudos, the skill of being an engineer has gotten lost,” before encouraging the industry to change this culture, which, in turn, would encourage young women to consider engineering as a career choice.
Closing her speech, Samardzich said: “This is about attracting and releasing the incredible talent around us. Women across the globe, who if they chose to join our sector, have the skills, ambition and ability to transform the industry that creates and manufactures the car, the greatest consumer product ever made.”