During The Battery Show in Novi, Michigan, a panel of electric vehicle (EV) industry-leading women came together to discuss a lack of gender diversity in the EV industry workforce. Moderated by Lisa Ann Pinkerton, Founder, and CEO at Technica Communications, the panel included Veera Johnson, Co-founder at Circulor, Megan O’Connor, CEO and Co-founder at Nth Cycle, and Amy Soderquist, Business Development Manager – EV Infrastructure and Fleet at Southwire Company.
During the well-attended session, the women answered questions about diversity from the moderator and took questions from the audience.
Here are the top 10 takeaways from the panel discussion:
We see all our own flaws—believe your colleagues and believe your friends to help override that internal voice that says I don’t know how to do this.
“He’s louder so he must know what he’s talking about” is a feeling that must be overridden by confidence in oneself. Believe your peers. Fall back on that when you have self-doubt.
There is strong importance in having a mentor, especially early in your career, one that can prod you along when you aren’t always the most confident version of yourself. It can be a male or a female mentor, but they must also be a sponsor. A sponsor will promote you and be willing to go to bat for you.
Learn how to take feedback. Sometimes the only time you can grow is during a feedback session with a manager who isn’t a mentor. Use the information to grow—you will set yourself apart by being able to use feedback constructively.
In general, women tend to look for permission more frequently than men might. Make sure that people know that they have permission to do their jobs and don’t have to check in on everything. That empowers all kinds of people, regardless of gender.
Education is a major component of the diversity on your teams. You have to be willing to train on the job if you want to have a diverse group.
Sometimes it’s not so much the sector or the industry that you are going into, it’s the people you want to work for and who you want to work with. From there you can pick up whatever you might need to be learning.
Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith and go after a job, knowing that you will be able to learn the skills that are needed.
Retaining female talent, especially when they reach child-bearing age is a constant challenge. One key is giving a lot of flexible time off and a very flexible schedule, as long as the work is being done. It helps retain women employees. It removes the stigma of having to leave early to pick up kids or taking time to be with the family.
It is important, if you want to attract more women into the EV industry it’s important to have diverse teams up front. You can get more women candidates for jobs if they can see the diversity in every part of the company. If you don’t have female leaders, it’s harder to have these conversations and attract women to the industry.
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.