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It’s time to have an honest conversation about diversity

It’s time to have an honest conversation about diversity

Like many of my peers in automotive leadership roles and within executive search agencies, I’ve seen diversity in business explode in the past five years. From the early days of collecting data on employee ethnic origin and ensuring a diverse mix of races were represented (if not representative) in corporate brochures, diversity is now a minefield that is growing in scope and fresh demands on organisations.

Recent research commissioned by Ennis & Co reflects that the majority of automotive companies have some kind of diversity programme in place. Which is great news. Leaders are taking this seriously and that’s a good thing. The correlation between diversity and corporate performance is clear, as concluded by McKinsey & Co.’s Diversity Matters 2018 report. In short, the sort of companies that take diversity seriously are just better companies!

But we know that approaches to, and understanding of, diversity varies wildly from one company to the next. Beyond race and gender, ‘diversity and inclusion’ can include flexible working, paternity leave, transgender issues, minimum wage and equal pay etc. etc. And while this is snowballing along, fuelled by a society increasingly cautious of everyone’s sensitivities, businesses still need to answer to financial markets and deliver more for less for their shareholders. Organisations have to start and stop somewhere; they cannot give the whole workforce endless flexibility, while continuing to make money. The world is changing and we foresee big “people challenges” ahead.

The benefits to be had from a truly diverse workforce are not disputed, but can you, as a business or HR leader really say you are well set up and supported to achieve them? While every other business function is benchmarked and measured against impact on the bottom line, how is diversity performance at your company being evaluated? We’re not the only ones seeing a looming problem here. Together with Auto Trader and Auto Retail Network, we’re instigating an industry-wide debate on this issue, a mission to build a voice and inspire change. If you’d like to be a part of it, then please get in touch and register your interest in working together. We’re holding an inaugural event in June:

‘Making Diversity and Inclusion a Reality’ event takes place on Tuesday 12th June 2018 in London.

The event will share the latest diversity and inclusion research into the automotive industry, showing how diversity is being tackled by vehicle manufacturers and retailers, as well as the supply chain and technology organisations. We’ll also investigate what is going on in other sectors and set out meaningful measures and benchmarks.

We will share full details about the event soon. Email us or follow the Ennis & Co Linked In page to be kept up-to-date.

Let’s break down the diversity wish list into what is sensible and business critical and eradicate the parts that don’t drive anything. Let’s challenge our own diversity programmes. Let’s ask if they are fit for purpose and where they go from here. In the automotive industry, we are used to seeing some often surprising collaborations between OEMs in areas such as vehicle platform sharing and joint powertrain programmes. I’m hopeful and excited that we can do the same for our pressing HR and leadership issues.

by Lynda Ennis

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