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Automotive industry slow to take diversity to the next level, research shows

Research unveiled at an inaugural diversity and inclusion (D&I) event for automotive industry leaders has highlighted the sector’s need to increase the pace of change, to stay competitive.

Almost half (49%) of senior automotive executives questioned in the study say that “attract and retain talent” is the number one goal of diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts; signalling strong recognition of the value of a diverse workforce.

But when it comes to translating this aim into action, the most popular policies are disappointingly familiar. Flexible working practices is almost universally embraced at 93%, while monitoring and reporting on the diverse make up of employees is supported by a solid 71% of respondents.

Equally standard is the fact that gender, ethnicity and age are the top three areas of focus for all organisations surveyed – irrespective of whether they take a narrow or broad view of diversity programmes. This finding suggests other important aspects of D&I, such as religion or disability, are still being marginalised.

Most surprising of all is that only 15% of leaders questioned see D&I efforts as integral to achieving business results. This is despite a growing body of evidence underlining the positive relationship between diversity and commercial performance.

These are just some of the key findings announced at a unique event: Making Diversity & Inclusion a Business Reality, which brought together over 50 HR Directors, MDs and CEOs from many of the UK’s leading automotive retail and manufacturing brands, service providers and industry bodies. Organised to challenge and test best practice, it sought to identify practical solutions to drive greater diversity across the industry.

Lynda Ennis, founder of Ennis & Co, believes that starting a meaningful, collaborative conversation about D&I culture in this way is long overdue. She commented, “What this research tells me is that while there is a lot going on, the bigger picture is muddled. The conference provided a much-needed platform for those in senior roles to address important and difficult questions; to cut through the noise and really understand what a diverse and inclusive company should look like in today’s modern world. 

“What we’ve learned is that it’s time to think big and create a clear vision of how to embed a positive D&I culture into every aspect of business operations. Without this energy and drive, the automotive industry risks being seen as an out-dated, uninspiring career choice, leaving more forward-thinking employers in other sectors – who have long recognised the value of brand engagement for the younger generation – to have their pick of the talent pool.”  

Pictured: People at the event

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