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Study: Transportation Industry Slower to Diversify in U.S. Employment

January 2, 2024

Tim Keenan
Dec. 14, 2023

The transportation industry lags behind the U.S. workforce in overall employment for women and racially/ethnically diverse talent, according to a comprehensive industry survey from the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion, and Advancement in Livonia, and KPMG and MichAuto in Detroit.

“We’re thrilled to release findings from this first-of-its-kind study,” says Cheryl Thompson, founder and CEO of CADIA. “To get to where you want to go, you must figure out where you are, and this study provides us with the information we need to measure progress in DEI over time and collectively work on outcome-centered goals. While the industry is moving forward, there is still work to be done.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • Thirty-one percent of the transportation industry workforce is racially/ethnically diverse, compared to 38 percent of the overall U.S. workforce.
  • Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino workers have relatively high representation in manufacturing and operations but are underrepresented in leadership roles compared to their share of the industry workforce.
  • Women make up 24 percent of the workforce in the transportation industry but 47 percent of the overall U.S. workforce.
  • Attrition rates for diverse workers are generally higher than that of the industry average.
  • Representation of women among executive, senior leadership, and manager roles (23 percent) is largely proportional to representation of women in the industry workforce (24 percent).

CADIA, a mission driven organization focused on advancing diverse talent in the transportation and defense industries, was selected by MichAuto to perform the study alongside KPMG.

Results from the Driving Diversity study reflect information collected from 40 companies in the transportation industry covering more than 690,000 employees. Twenty companies (covering more than 110,000 employees) responded to the survey, including automotive suppliers, defense companies, and automotive dealership groups. Secondary data was reviewed from a total of 20 companies within the automotive, transportation, and defense industries, including OEMs and suppliers.

“To build on its progress toward a diverse workforce, organizations in the transportation industry must continue to prioritize efforts to attract and retain a diverse workforce and develop initiatives that drive equitable access to career development opportunities and ensure an inclusive environment where people feel a sense of belonging,” says Kristine Coogan, principal at KPMG.

The full version of the report will be released in the first quarter of 2024. Future studies will be conducted biennially to identify trends, monitor progress, and gauge the success of industry initiatives.

“Michigan is the leader and global epicenter for mobility research, engineering, and manufacturing,” says Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MichAuto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It is also essential that we lead and set an example for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry.

“It’s past time for our industry to reflect — increasingly in leadership positions — the meaningful contributions of all who have been part of its growth and success, especially women and people of color. MichAuto is proud not only to help bring this data to life, but also to participate in mobilizing the positive changes it will inspire.”

For more information about the Diversity Study, visit here.