Nissan Motor’s Japan-only initiative, Women in the Driver’s Seat: Gender Diversity as a Lever in Japan, uses diversity to secure business success by increasing women’s participation and contribution in all areas of the business. The business case for having women as decision-makers and in positions of influence within the company was developed in response to research identifying women as influencers of two-thirds of all car purchases. With the support of many senior leaders and champions, the resulting diversity strategy focuses on three areas: engagement, education, and advancement of women.
The components of the initiative include:
- The Nissan Way, the principles and values—including diversity—encouraged and expected in the organization.
- Career advancement support through specialized “Career Advisors,” for women only, and “Career Coaches,” for all high-potential employees.
- Strategies for increasing the visibility of women role models, such as networking events and diversity forums.
- Education and awareness-building through mandatory manager training and a robust diversity intranet site.
- A variety of work-life programs and policies, including flextime, family leave for women and men, and programs to reduce overtime work.
- Ergonomic adjustments to equipment and other improvements in facilities and working conditions at plants that allow women to contribute fully.
- Strong accountability mechanisms, such as the Global HR scorecard, Employee Surveys, and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are linked with managers’ targets for promoting and developing women leaders.
The initiative showcases solid increases for women in positions of influence in Japan. Since 2004, representation of women in management positions has increased from 2 percent (36 women) to 4 percent (101 women). The percentage of women managers in the design, planning, and product planning function has doubled from 4 percent to 8 percent. In the pipeline to management, women assistant managers have increased from 2 percent to 4 percent and women team leaders from 4 percent to 7 percent. The percentage of sales people (Car Life Advisors) at Nissan-owned dealerships who are women has increased from 4 percent to 6 percent, while the percentage of women in manufacturing plants more than doubled.