CEO Update

Why we need more Great British women to drive our industry

22 June 2018 #CEO Update

This week the most influential British women in the motor industry were celebrated as Autocar, in partnership with SMMT, announced its 2018 top 100 hall of fame. SMMT has supported the awards since their inception, an initiative which seeks not just to celebrate success but to encourage more women into the industry.

Our congratulations go to the entire 100 and all category winners, but in particular the overall victor, Linda Jackson, Global CEO, Citroën, who tops the list for the second time.

In an era of unprecedented turbulence, the automotive industry needs role models to demonstrate what can be achieved through hard work, inspiration and dedication in this intensely competitive, global sector.

There is no denying that the motor industry has not got the gender balance right. More needs to be done to ensure the industry is reflective not just of the societies in which it operates but of the customers we serve. We need greater diversity throughout our workforce, from design and engineering through production, to marketing and boardrooms.

We are not unique in this regard; In Linda’s keynote address she highlighted the fact the FTSE100 has more CEOs called “John” than it does female CEOs. But the auto industry must – and is – taking responsibility for addressing its gender imbalance. As the proverb says: “if each before their own door swept, the village would be clean”.

And, there has never been a more exciting time to start a career in the motor industry, with so many opportunities across a wide range of careers and so many technological breakthroughs on the horizon, from increasingly connected and autonomous cars, to zero and ultra-low emission vehicles.

To maintain Britain’s position as a global centre of excellence for automotive innovation and manufacturing, we need to recruit the best people, irrespective of background or gender, across all disciplines.

The best talent will help navigate a path through Brexit and the transition to zero emission transport. Both are critical for future success and will be debated in detail next Tuesday as the 10th SMMT International Automotive Summit takes place in London.

The day features high-level speakers, including government ministers, ambassadors and senior car industry executives from global brands. Interest in the event has been incredibly strong, with registrations at full capacity, and I look forward to seeing many of you there. For more information visit

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT

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