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Auto Trader and Ennis & Co to lead automotive sector diversity debate

Auto Trader’s manufacturer and agency director, Rebecca Clark

Managing directors and chief executives from the automotive retail sector will “challenge and test best practice” surrounding diversity and inclusivity when they meet at a one-day collaborative seminar hosted by Auto Trader and Ennis & Co.

High-profile figures from retail and manufacturing are expected to attend the event, which has been organised by the online car retail platform and executive search specialist, which will be held at Auto Trader’s London headquarters on June 12.

The event will aim to “drive greater awareness of the fundamental need to encourage a more diverse array of talent into the industry, and to inspire and encourage a balance of gender, races, and backgrounds into automotive roles”, a statement issued by Auto Trader said.

A series of short ‘talking head’ videos featuring business leaders from major automotive brands including TrustFord, Inchcape, Volkswagen, Jardine Motors, and CitNOW, have also been created as part of the project and will be shared via social media with the hashtag #diversityinauto.   

Auto Trader’s manufacturer and agency director, Rebecca Clark, said: “Diversity is an issue that simply cannot be ignored anymore.

“It’s not just vital from a social and cultural perspective, but there is a real business need for it too.

“More than a third of cars in the UK are registered to women, and not only are they the key influencers in purchasing decisions, but often women are the end user too.

“With 40% of women stating that greater diversity would create a better in-dealership experience for them, retailers and manufacturers must recognise that in today’s challenging market D&I has to be a priority.”

The joint seminar comes two years after Auto Trader established a Diversity and Inclusion Guild.

Among the organisations achievements to date are:

  • A company-wide education programme featuring “One Auto Trader: Creating a Diverse & Inclusive Culture” workshops
  • Encouraging girls and women into STEM careers: Running Code Clubs in local schools and working in partnership with Manchester Digital to launch Software Development Apprenticeships
  • Driving internal and external recruitment of women: Resulting in female colleagues successfully securing 60% of internal vacancies in 2017 (Jan – Dec), compared with 24% in 2016. What’s more, 47% of all external job offers were accepted by women in 2017 (Jan – Dec), compared to 37% in the previous year

Commenting on next month’s seminar, Clark said: “Our goal for this event is to bring together the leading brands and thought leaders that like Auto Trader are determined to bring about change in the automotive industry.

“Working together we believe that we can introduce truly meaningful and lasting steps that will create not only more equal working opportunities for women, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities, but also a car buying experience that is more welcoming and representative of the market.” 

Lynda Ennis, founder of Ennis & Co, said: “Diversity is a minefield that is growing in scope and fresh demands on organisations who need to be more flexible and yet continue to make money.

“Beyond race and gender, diversity now includes flexible working, paternity leave, transgender issues, minimum or living wages and equal pay etc.

“This wind of change calls for more than a box-ticking ‘fix’ and we know that companies are tackling it in very different ways.

“I’m hoping that we can help each other and fast-track our way through, starting with some very frank, action-oriented discussions at this conference, where we are going to have most, if not all, the right people in the room.”

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