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IMI Task Force to take 'holistic approach' to gender diversity

Professor Jim Saker

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Diversity Task Force said it aims to take a ‘holistic approach’ to tackle gender diversity in the automotive industry.

At the inaugural meeting of the IMI Diversity Task Force on June 3, IMI president, Professor Jim Saker said that the task force aims to identify the ‘full scope’ off issues that create barriers to entry and career progression in the sector.

AM columnist Saker said: “The end-game of the IMI Diversity Task Force is to devise action plans that can be adopted right across the sector to improve diversity universally.

“That means looking at all areas where there is currently a lack of diversity – including race and disability, as well as gender.

“Creating more opportunities and driving up diversity will help address the much talked about skills shortages and attract talent to the sector.”

The IMI Diversity Task Force launched earlier this year as part of a drive to tackle diversity in automotive through a year-long project.

The first opportunity for each of the Task Force’s Working Groups to convene, the meeting also provided a forum for individuals from across the automotive sector to debate the issues and achieve consensus on the Working Group objectives, said the IMI.

Representation at the meeting included individuals who have had first-hand experience of the issues the Task Force is setting out to challenge. 

Andy Kent, founder of Andy’s Kars, which championed the employment of people with disabilities – visible and invisible – highlighted the advantages of employers looking beyond traditional profiles for new recruits.

He said: “I’m particularly excited about the approach of the IMI Diversity Task Force to look at how employers can be more open to working with individuals with a disability.

“Over 20 years my business trained more than 600 young people with disabilities and learning challenges.

“The one thing that was always very clear was that individuals with a disability have an overwhelming desire to overcome the challenges they face.

“The key is to look at the person, the ability, and not the disability. I look forward to contributing my insight and experience to the Physical and Non-Visible Disabilities Working Group led by Sarah Sillars.”

Nathan Sawbridge, head of business at Inchcape's Lexus and Toyota Nottingham dealerships, highlighted the increasing risk for the automotive sector of disengagement by GenZ if a lack of a diversity is allowed to continue.

Sawbridge said: “The reality is that certain sectors of society do not see automotive as an aspirational career route.

“We have to change that perception by creating an environment where equality is clearly demonstrated.

“We also have to ensure that the issue of equality is addressed across all areas of inequality and I am particularly excited that the IMI Task Force is taking such a holistic approach.

“The Gender Pay Gap report has been a driver for change on gender imbalance but currently there aren’t the same drivers for change in the areas of race and disability.

“I look forward to working with Kevin Finn, chair of the Race and Ethnicity Working Group, to identify the actions that will ensure that equality of outcome becomes a measure of success; not just equality of opportunity.”

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