DENSO’s Denise Carlson is Recognized Among 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry

Nov. 10, 2020

Southfield, Mich., Nov. 10, 2020 – Denise Carlson, vice president of DENSO’s North American Production Innovation Center and the company’s executive lead for D&I, has been named among 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry by Automotive News. She is the first DENSO employee to earn the honor. Carlson and her co-honorees are featured in a special section of the publication’s Nov. 9 issue and were recognized at a virtual, exclusive celebration sponsored by Automotive News and Deloitte.

Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry recognizes women who are leaders in the automotive field – those who make major decisions and have significant influence at their companies. Automotive News has published the list of the industry’s top female executives every five years since 2000.

“With 25 years of dedicated service to DENSO and our customers, Denise is the embodiment of the DENSO Spirit,” said Kenichiro Ito, senior executive officer for DENSO Corporation and chief executive officer of DENSO's North American Headquarters. “She repeatedly demonstrates our core values of foresight, credibility and collaboration, whether she’s improving our production processes or strengthening our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. This award is a testament to her dynamic talents and the impact she has not only at DENSO, but also across the auto industry. We’re proud to see her work honored as such.”

The 2020 class of Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry emerged from a months-long nomination and judging process that attracted hundreds of entries from the United States, Canada and Mexico. This year’s honorees come from 72 companies. They are CEOs, COOs, CIOs, CMOs, engineers, plant managers, dealer principals and more. And, for the first time, many work in the new mobility sector.

“A comparison of the 2020 and 2015 Automotive News lists of 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry confirms that the status of women in the industry continues to improve. There are 13 CEOs of automakers and suppliers on the list this time, up from six in 2015 and two in 2010,” said Mary Beth Vander Schaaf, Automotive News managing editor and leader of the project.

Carlson joined DENSO in 1995 as one of its first female engineers and has been with the company since, taking on positions of increasing responsibility along the way. In her current role, she works collaboratively with DENSO's Global Production Innovation Center to support the company’s North American manufacturing operations. Simultaneously, she is leading the development and implementation of DENSO’s North American D&I strategy, collaborating with company leaders at every level to ensure a more inclusive work environment across DENSO’s locations.

“I am honored to be named to this prestigious list alongside other female automotive leaders,” said Carlson. “But even more, I am truly proud of DENSO’s work, and the work of the entire auto industry, in championing diversity and inclusion as well as the commitment to bringing more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles. This award recognizes women who are breaking the glass ceiling in our industry and I’m humbled to stand among them.”

In addition to Carlson being named as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry, DENSO is a Diamond Sponsor of the 5th Annual Automotive News Leading Women Conference held virtually November 9-12, 2020. The conference showcases the individuals and organizations that are driving change and championing diversity, inclusion, and growth for women in the automotive industry. This year’s conference is also addressing how the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest helped accelerate the rate of cultural change within organizations.

Since 1925, Automotive News has been the primary source for news happening among automotive retailers, suppliers and manufacturers. Distinct from other publications in the field, Automotive News remains a fully subscriber-paid publication, a testament to the value it delivers to the reader. The award-winning weekly print edition, robust website, email newsletters and video broadcasts are backed by a global team of more than 65 editors and reporters.

DENSO is a $47.6 billion global mobility supplier that develops advanced technology and components for nearly every vehicle make and model on the road today. With manufacturing at its core, DENSO invests in its 200 facilities to produce thermal, powertrain, mobility, electrification, & electronic systems, to create jobs that directly change how the world moves. The company’s 170,000+ employees are paving the way to a mobility future that improves lives, eliminates traffic accidents, and preserves the environment. Globally headquartered in Kariya, Japan, DENSO spent 9.9 percent of its global consolidated sales on research and development in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. For more information about global DENSO, visit

In North America, DENSO is headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, and employs 27,000+ engineers, researchers and skilled workers across 51 sites in the U.S, Canada and Mexico. In the United States alone, DENSO employs 17,700+ employees across 14 states (and the District of Columbia) and 41 sites. In fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, DENSO in North America generated $10.9 billion in consolidated sales. DENSO is committed to advancing diversity and inclusion inside the company and beyond – a principle that brings unique perspectives together, bolsters innovation and pushes DENSO forward. Join us, and craft not only how the world moves, but also your career: For more information, go to