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Diversity and inclusion strategy crucial to automotive talent search

The diversity and Inclusion panel on stage at AutoTrader's second annual Making Diversity and Inclusion a Business Reality event

Automotive businesses that fail to embrace an authentic diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy could miss out on the skills and talent needed to succeed in a fast-evolving market.

Leaders from major automotive brands came to the conclusion at the second annual Making Diversity and Inclusion a Business Reality event hosted by Auto Trader, in partnership with executive search specialists Ennis & Co.

Auto Trader’s manufacturer and agency director, Rebecca Clark, said: “Not only is our industry undergoing unprecedented challenges but it’s evolving at a dramatic rate.

"D&I isn’t simply a ‘nice-to-have’. Without a diverse, representative workforce with the skills, the talent and fresh thinking to help businesses adapt to future technologies and customers, they will be at a huge disadvantage in an already highly competitive marketplace."

The seminar saw brands share ideas, test best practice and identify practical solutions for driving greater diversity across the automotive industry.

Utilising new research from employee insight specialists Qlearsite, it was also an opportunity to assess how far the industry had progressed on the actions identified in 2018.

Daksh Gupta, chief executive of Marshall Motor Group, Martin Forbes, chief executive of Cox Automotive UK and Mandeep Dhatt, executive director of HR at McLaren Automotive were among the industry leaders that took part in a panel discussion.

It was followed by seminar sessions, where senior executives from brands including TrustFord, Pendragon, Jardine Motors Group, Mitsubishi, Ford Motor Company, Inchcape UK, Toyota, Hendy Group, Volvo, Volkswagen, Triumph, Renault UK, Aston Martin, Cambria Automobiles, and the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) discussed the practical steps to encourage a more diverse array of talent into the industry, as well as to inspire and encourage a balance of gender, races, and backgrounds into automotive roles, and to retain them.

The seminar produced the following advice:

  • Think ahead: When thinking of the talent necessary for the success of their business, brands shouldn’t just match what their current customer or employee profile is. Think about the future – the need for technology and digital skills within automotive is only set to accelerate.
  • Be authentic: Brands need to avoid D&I buzz words or introducing initiatives simply because other businesses are doing it. It’s essential that any activity is authentic for your organisation otherwise colleagues and candidates will see through it.
  • Business and education strategy: Brands need to shape the perception of the automotive industry from an early age to move away from outdated industry stereotypes. Engaging with schools and parents can be hugely impactful but needs to showcase the diverse colleagues and talents in your business to truly inspire. 
  • Role models: Role models that are visible across every professional touchpoint are fundamental to a successful D&I strategy. Promoting a diverse culture becomes more authentic and transparent when brands can champion real people with real jobs in their organisation. 
  • Keep it simple: Brands should avoid trying to do too many things at once. They shouldn’t do too few things either but they must make sure what they’re doing is clear so colleagues and candidates can understand what’s going on and feel a part of it.

A whitepaper presenting the comments and insight from the event, as well as detailed findings of brand-new D&I research will be published in June.

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