AS-PL. Group president Danuta Kaszubowska offers some thoughts on women’s changing roles in the industry
President, management board, AS-PL
Q - There are not many women in senior business roles in automotive – what can be done to change this?
At first glance you could say that the automotive industry is a ‘man's world’. But I think that the industry is developing thanks to both women and men. This is a sector like any other – absorbing, exciting, full of challenges, which I love to work in. I think that gender is not an issue here. Different perspectives should be an inspiration, not a source of conflict. A female manager demonstrates general traits such as courage, competence, willingness to grow professionally, being open to changes. Listening to your employees, consistency, and empathy are also important. All of us have to define goals for ourselves and believe that we can complete them in order to achieve success. A successful businesswoman also needs to do something apart from working, to follow her passions. How can we increase the number of female managers? Publicly accessible research shows that women spend much more time doing things at home than men. The first thing we have to introduce, then, are flexible working hours which will enable women to combine work with home responsibilities. Motivational sessions and mentoring can provide additional support.
Q - As a woman in the automotive industry, how are you treated?
A - I have noticed an increase in women in the automotive industry over the last couple of years. I am glad that more and more often women take up management responsibilities. It turns out that we don’t have any problems with making tough decisions. We know how to negotiate. We combine female sensibility with decisiveness, taking down stereotypes in the process. I'd like to recall the words of Henryka Bochniarz, a member of the supervisory board of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Poland: “Women are a perfect fit for the automotive industry and hold high functions, even though it is said that the sector is dominated by men. Women manufacture vehicles, design new cars, work in repair garages. They also drive vehicles in national and international transport. So women work in this industry. They are still a minority, but the sector has been undergoing major changes. Their numbers grow year by year. Six years ago, the number of women in the automotive industry amounted to 30% of the whole workforce, now it’s nearly 35%, while the same statistics in the European Union have not changed for years. According to business journal Puls Biznesu and Eurostat data from 2015 there are over 3.2 million people working in this sector and 25% of them are women. The same year saw 255,000 new employees, 90,000 of which were women. This is 10% more than the EU average. In Poland every third person employed in the automotive industry is a woman, while in the EU – every fourth. More and more women are applying for jobs and this phenomenon can be observed mainly in Poland.”
Q - When you were named in the top 100 most enterprising women in Poland, you said females “successfully combine female sensitivity with decisiveness, refuting the stereotypes”. How does the industry fight these stereotypes?
A - The way we perceive a woman’s function in society has changed during the last decade. Women became more financially independent. They invest more and save more. They create companies and achieve success. Women know how to plan their expenses. They are motivated. What should we do to fight stereotypes? Let me twist your question – all you need to do is read the research results.