The automotive industry in India is one of the main pillars of the economy. There has been a more than three-fold increase in its contribution to the National GDP from 2.77% in 1992-93 to 7.1% now. More than 19 million people are employed directly and indirectly in the industry. A sharp growth, especially during the first half of 2022, took all industry players by surprise and revealed a sudden shortage of talent. How to keep pace with the ever-evolving sector and maintain competitiveness, in terms of the talent war? People Matters spoke to Philippe Pelletier, HR VP Transformation- India & Asia Cluster, Groupe Renault on what is needed to be done to win the great talent war.
Being VP of human resources transformation & organisation, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing HR professionals in the automotive industry right now in India and other regions, and how are you addressing these challenges?
The global and Indian automotive markets experienced a significant surge in demand in 2022 and 2023, resulting in a substantial increase in workload. The remarkable growth, especially during the first half of 2022, took all industry players by surprise. This trend continues due to the evident need for automotive equipment in India. Overall, the market is thriving.
To keep pace with the expanding market and maintain competitiveness, industry leaders are actively pursuing talented individuals skilled in new-age technologies and specialised knowledge required for the industry. However, there remains a persistent gap between the demand and supply of industry-specific skills in the market.
In response to the specific talent shortage in the automotive industry, Renault has devised a comprehensive plan. Firstly, the company is committed to retaining its existing talent while enhancing its capabilities to recruit the right individuals. Additionally, Renault is exploring partnerships with academic institutions. These collaborations aim to cultivate a pool of talented individuals equipped with the skills needed for the automotive industry, addressing the future shortage of a specialised workforce. Our mantra is to retain and recruit the right talent, and effectively prepare for the future amidst technological disruptions.
Furthermore, Renault has planned to increase its workforce in India, primarily in the fields of production engineering, IT, software, AI, electric systems, and automotive engineering.
Did you bring any changes or transformations recently within the HR department, and what impact they have had on the organisation, especially in India?
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance and viability of a hybrid work model. People worldwide have gained valuable experience in collaborating effectively without being physically confined to office spaces. This newfound understanding has led to the adoption of a hybrid work approach across various job roles. It serves as a competitive advantage for us, as employees appreciate the flexibility it offers, enabling them to achieve a better work-life balance in a post-Covid world.
How do you approach diversity, equity, and inclusion in the automotive industry which is otherwise considered as male dominant? Did Renault take any initiative to encourage women to take up careers in the automotive sector?
Our approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is comprehensive and multi-pronged. We are committed to enhancing gender diversity within our organisation by actively recruiting talented women across all job roles. To foster female participation, we have established partnerships with organisations and job boards that focus on inviting female talent.
In order to improve female representation in leadership positions within the automotive industry, it is essential to significantly increase the percentage of women in various job roles. While we acknowledge the importance of this objective, it is challenging to establish a specific timeline for achieving it.
To encourage and support women aspiring to build successful careers in the sector, Renault provides mentoring and coaching programs. We have revived our women's association to enable women to support each other.
Last year, we launched the 'Back on Wheels' initiative, designed to offer targeted support to female employees returning to work after a career break. Such initiatives, tailored for women, help them regain confidence and quickly adapt to the corporate environment.
Currently, Renault has an average of 20% female employees across job roles. However, this percentage may vary depending on specific job roles or departments. For example, there is fewer female workforce in traditional activities like production engineering, and mechanical engineering, whereas IT or software, back-office operations, and support functions such as finance are likely to have a higher representation of women.
Can you describe your company's approach to talent acquisition and retention, and how has it evolved over time?
Effective leadership and a strong managerial culture play a crucial role in winning the battle for top talent. It is imperative to prioritise listening to your employees and offering ample opportunities for learning and career growth. In today’s workforce, individuals seek engaging and fulfilling roles that allow them to thrive. Creating an environment conducive to their success helps them feel valued, included, and important.
Furthermore, providing attractive and competitive compensation is another vital factor in attracting and retaining talent, leading to victory in the talent war.
How do you prioritise employee development and growth within the company and what kind of opportunities are available for those who are interested in advancing their careers within the same company?
Our organisational policy is rooted in providing equal growth opportunities to all employees, regardless of their gender, origin, or age. To ensure fairness in career advancement, we have implemented an open posting system. This system allows employees who have completed at least two years in a job, to apply for vacant positions in other departments without the need for prior approval from their immediate manager.
During the selection process, candidates undergo comprehensive screening to assess their suitability for the desired role. Constructive feedback on their strengths and areas for improvement is provided, enabling them to enhance their professional capabilities. We recognise the importance of upskilling our workforce, especially in light of rapid technological advancements. Therefore, we are committed to equipping our employees with the necessary technical expertise, ensuring they stay ahead of industry trends.
Furthermore, we offer a diverse range of professional and managerial development programs to foster continuous growth among our employees. Cross-functional assignments provide valuable learning opportunities, allowing individuals to expand their knowledge and skills across various areas of our organisation.
How do you ensure that the company's HR policies and practices are aligned with local and global regulations and best practices?
As a prominent brand, we have a dedicated team of experts who diligently monitor regulations and requirements. Naturally, we ensure that our practices in the market align with these guidelines as we continually expand our workforce. Our team remains vigilant about the developments in the regions where we operate, consistently assessing areas that require adaptation and growth.
How do you see the role of HR evolving within the automotive industry in the coming years, and what changes do you anticipate making to keep pace with these trends?
Attracting, nurturing, and retaining industry talent is a collaborative effort. Given the ever-evolving nature of technology and the market, it is crucial to develop agile and responsive capabilities to anticipate future trends effectively.
It is difficult to anticipate the future of the automotive and labour market in the next three years from now. While the exact ramifications of AI on the automotive sector remain uncertain, as an industry player, our job is to proactively prepare for future innovations and disruptions.