ROSSLYN, PRETORIA – Nissan Motor Company Ltd (Nissan) has won the 2008 Catalyst Award, an annual worldwide prize that honours exceptional initiatives from companies that support and advance women in business. This is the first time that a company headquartered in Asia has won the award, which was presented to Nissan for its programme 'Women in the Driver's Seat: Gender Diversity as a Lever in Japan'.

"We are delighted that our global company is making its mark felt when it comes to recognising women as integral to the success of the business," said Managing Director of Nissan South Africa (Nissan SA) Julio Panama, echoing the sentiments of his Middle East counterpart, Toru Hasegawa.

"Nissan worldwide is very conscious of the role of women in business and in the automotive market and, as such, promotes women and gender diversity in the workplace. We empower women who show leadership qualities and who are innovative. Our aim is to inspire and encourage other manufacturers to embrace gender diversity,' commented Hasegawa.

Since 2004, the number of women in Nissan management positions has increased from 36 to 101 and the percentage of women managers in the design, planning and product planning function has doubled. The percentage of female sales staff at Nissan dealerships has also increased, while the percentage of women in manufacturing plants more than doubled.

Holding a key position at Nissan SA is Pat Senne, General Manager of Group Corporate Affairs and Communications, one of the first women to be appointed to Nissan SA's Executive Council.

"Cultural and gender diversity are obviously very important in a South African context and great strides have been made in the socio-economic and political arenas," said Senne, whose determination has seen her climb the ladder from a nurse in the public sector to top executive of a multinational corporation. "It is a greater challenge breaking through the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry and I am grateful that Nissan has recognised my potential," she adds.

 Senne now inspires other women, not only in the  field of communications of which she is passionate, but  also as a role model of what can be achieved through a combination of hard work, assertiveness and vision.

Nissan's diversity programme includes career advancement support through specialist career advisors for women, as well as encouraging their input on improved ergonomics, facilities and working conditions in the workplace.


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