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Case study: Gender Competence for Topmanagers in the Car Industry, 2007-2009

Susanne Schwanzer

2007-2009 gdi-consultant Susanne Schwanzer developped and conducted gender competence trainings for the top managers from Ford automotive: to raise awareness and to prepare them for and include them in the implementation of the concern wide diversity strategy.


  • get further information on the business case, the strategy and action plan incl. specific measures rolled out according to the ompany‘s gender and diversity strategy
  • be able to understand the benefit of it & being able to put specific measures into practice,
  • be able to co-develop and use a gender toolkit which prepares them for situations at hand.


  • Defining the business case of gender & diversity management within the global company
  • Raising awareness: framework gender & diversity – what is it all about?
    e.g. understanding the token-phenomenon, e.g. the riangle of gender equality – gender difference – gender diversity
  • Tools & transfer – putting equality & diversity into practice
    e.g. analyzing the procedures of the personal development centers,
    e.g. review of specific action plans to identify obstacles and solutions

Elements facilitated by gdi-expert & trainer, Susanne Schwanzer, MMSc

  • Training-Concept including a workshop manual for later  train-the-trainer
  • Handouts with specific case studies and exercises, tailored to the level of expertise and awareness
  • Handout
© Daniel Gillies -

© Daniel Gillies –

Results &/lessons learnt

  • Uncovering „blind spots“ in the company‘s and in the manager’s individual perception

What sort of gender biases do result from e.g. non-transparent job advertisements? How do you learn about a free position which is adequate to your knowledge or basic qualification – if you work part-time? Or if you moved to a department which makes it easier to combine job and family – but you are only waiting to get back on track in your former field of expertice – e.g. engineering or sales? Which role behaviour of top managers does the company want to promote? What are the reasons for highly qualified female candidates not to promote themselves? Or take part in assessment centers? How can the company-intern personal development centres really include everybody in the procedure of scanning, promoting and assessing who is best qualified? How can the company eliminate gender/ ethnic/ age-stereotypes from their procedures? What are effective leverages to achieve the diversity management benchmarks?

  • Recognizing that the situation in Eastern Europe and Russia, where the company was just going to open plants at that time, differs a lot.

With regard to culture and mentality, quality or quantity (e.g. women leading and supervising whole plants due to their former qualifications). The approaches developped within the framework of Ford’s Diversity Strategy for Germany and Great Britain needed to be rethought and re-designed, to face challenges in the new Eastern European or Asian markets.

If you wish to learn more about the project or roll-out a similar awareness raising & competency training, feel free to contact Susanne Schwanzer personally, <>, +43 699 195 85 944