Diversity in automotive moving forward but remains stuck in the slow lane


Insight from the IMI’s Diversity Task Force, published in its latest report – Driving Towards Inclusion - reveals a more positive picture of diversity in many areas.

The proportion of automotive employees with a disability has increased since the Diversity Task Force’s first report was published in 2022, as has the proportion of non-white British employees. However, female representation in the workforce has taken a backward step compared to the 2022 report. Based on these findings the professional body is urging employers and individuals to get involved in the IMI Diversity Task Force Working Group.

Driving Towards Inclusion: Key findings

  • The proportion of female employees across the whole industry has fallen by 2.1% over the past two years, now standing at 17.5%
  • Females only account for 4% of apprentices across automotive
  • 15.5% of automotive workers have a disability, 2.2% higher than in 2022
  • Ethnic diversity has increased by 1.1% compared to the 2022 report to 13% – however the automotive sector remains behind the UK as a whole where 18% of the general working-age population is non-white British 
  • The female automotive workforce is statistically younger and more ethnically diverse than males
  • Males with disabilities and non-white British males are under-represented in automotive 

Emma Carrigy, Research & Insight Manager at the IMI provides insight into the key data findings in the report:

Female Diversity in Automotive

While the proportion of female employees across the whole industry has fallen since 2022, this picture is not universal across sub-sectors. Sales roles have seen a 3.7% increase in female representation over the last two years, yet maintenance and repair jobs saw a 3% decline. 

Employment opportunities in Automotive for those with Physical and Non-Visible Disabilities

Looking at the representation of those with physical and non-visible disabilities in automotive provides a slightly more positive picture. 15.5% of the automotive workforce has a disability. While slightly lower than the working-age population as a whole (24%), the rate of representation in automotive has risen by a statistically significant 2.2% in the past two years. 

Individuals with a disability have a lower attrition rate (10.4%) than those without disabilities at 12.3% - meaning they stay in their roles for slightly longer.  It is also encouraging to see higher participation (18%) of individuals with disabilities in automotive apprenticeships compared to non-automotive fields (11%).

Ethnic diversity

The automotive sector still falls significantly short on ethnic diversity, with a higher proportion of white British individuals than the wider working-age population. Individuals who are not white British are more likely to hold temporary positions (4.5%) than their white British counterparts (2.8%). And there are fewer apprentices (9%) who are non-white than in non-automotive fields (11%). The IMI analysis also suggests that the career path for non-white British people is limited with only 10% holding senior roles in automotive, compared to  16.4% found outside the industry.

The proportion of non-white British workers in automotive is steadily increasing, and if the current average 0.3% rate of growth continues, the sector is likely to fill more than 2,000 roles with non-white British individuals – reaching 13% - within two years. However, at the same rate it’s not set to reach 18% - to reflect the wider population – until 2049. 


Sally-Anne Hodder, Head of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at the IMI concludes, “The Diversity Task Force’s report clearly shows that automotive needs to unite to take decisive action to reach proportional representation. Some progress has been made in the past two years, but that progress is too slow which is why we are renewing our call for businesses and individuals to join the IMI’s Diversity Task Force Working Group and help drive change. By sharing stories, best practices, and lived experiences we can build on the progress of the last three years and create significant change for our sector.

“A more diverse workforce brings greater business success and helps workplaces and industries appeal to a wider pool of candidates. Furthermore, with our sector facing its biggest-ever skills challenge over the next decade, recruiting, cultivating and supporting a diverse workforce will go a long way in bridging the skills gap whilst continuing to deliver the services our customers need.”

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