Mazda wants 35% of managers to be women

TOKYO - The future of Mazda Motor Corp. is looking decidedly more feminine.

In 10 years, 30 percent to 35 percent of Mazda managers worldwide will be women, according to CEO Mark Fields. The percentage of women now in management at Mazda is in the "low single digits," Fields said.

Fields, speaking Thursday, Oct. 25, at the J.D. Power and Associates International Automotive Roundtable in Tokyo, told industry executives and analysts that Mazda aimed to make its personnel base better reflect its customer base, which is roughly 50 percent women.

To reach the goal, Fields will require his managers to pay special attention to capable women employees - and even put quotas in place for promoting women.

"We're putting our managers through a process where they have to think about who are their high-potential females," Fields said after his speech.

"At some point it is going to come to implementing percentages."

If achieved, Mazda's goal would be a stunning accomplishment. Women account for only 11 percent of all management positions in Fortune 500 companies, according to a survey by Catalyst, a nonprofit women's advocacy organization in New York.

The two biggest automakers fall below the average - 9.1 percent at General Motors and 7.4 percent at Mazda parent Ford Motor Co., according to the Catalyst census.

Fields also said all senior-level executives at Mazda would be Japanese in 10 years. The company's business plan is to cultivate Japanese managers to fill the top ranks.

"We have a very disciplined approach to people development," Fields said. "We've planted the seeds, and we're expecting a bumper crop."

Special Correspondent Brian Reuwee contributed to this report

Tags: Mazda Joe Kohn

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