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Female perspective important for digitalisation success

Many companies have problems with digitalisation, and how they should tackle the challenge. In the project Digitalisation from a female perspective, women in the automotive industry was brought together in order to gain new approaches, and the result became a series of important lessons. Sandra Mattsson, researcher at RISE explains more about some of them.

If you put together a group of women and let them talk freely about digitalisation, will you come up with something new? This is what the Scandinavian Automotive Supplier Association (FKG) asked in a project run on behalf of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.

"To answer this question we put together a two-day-course for women in the industry, that ended in a digitalisation trip to Germany, says Sandra Mattsson

Sandra Mattsson has seen that the courses contributed with many different perspectives that may not otherwise have emerged, such as the importance of involving all employees and starting small.

"What we arrived at are three things above all: To have an innovative culture, take small steps and develop a long-term strategy for change processes and competence management."

Characteristic thirst for knowledge

The fact that all the participants were women was perhaps not the biggest difference to a mixed group, rather the thirst for knowledge of the groups that participated in the course was what really struck out.

"When we started the course, many people said they were completely new to digitalisation. Some went from talking about what digitalisation really means, will robots take our jobs? to on the last day discussing what kind of cloud services they should have. It felt fantastic, says Sandra Mattsson, who hopes that those who visit the seminar in Hannover will bring new perspectives on the connection between man and organisation."

"I hope that people take away with them the fact that you have to establish digitalisation in an organisation in a way that it does not take place too high up, and does not fail to become sufficiently robust. It is still people who are going to program and maintain the technology."

Continued work for increased gender equality and diversity

Even if the project has ended, Sandra Mattsson with colleagues continues to work for increased diversity within the industry, for example within the framework of the Vinnova strategic innovation programme Produktion2030. It includes everything from making the industry more inclusive to encouraging more women and individuals of ethnical variety to pursuit technical careers.

– It is not just about attracting people to the industry, but also about making them stay. And that is not the same thing. Many industrial companies are not aware that there is a masculine culture, which can make many women feel they are not being included.

Networking improves gender equality and integration

2016, FKG started the network Woman in the Supply Industry, and the successful collaboration continues. The network involves over 200 companies, has regular meetings, and hopes to improve both gender equality and integration in the industry, and get more women interested in the automotive industry. In addition a collaboration has been initiated with the Network for Women within the fuel and automotive industry (NKDF). 

"We have organised a number of much appreciated workshops and seminars together with FKG and NKDF. Also, we have developed an education format in collaboration with FKG, based on the insights from the previous project. 

The education is about how to create a more attractive and inclusive work place. It targets small and medium sized industry companies and will be held by RISE in april.  

"It is important to network. Many of the members of the network are successful women, who often may feel lonely in their roles. The supplier industry is quite tough, says Sandra Mattsson, whose involvement in the network was the holding of courses and workshops on digitalisation and innovation."

Published: 2019-03-19