According to the second annual Making Diversity and Inclusion a Business Reality White Paper, published today, diversity and inclusion (D&I) is climbing the agenda for the majority of businesses, but there remain too few people from diverse backgrounds in leadership roles. The White Paper, produced in partnership by Auto Trader and executive search specialists, Ennis & Co., tracks the D&I behaviours and commitments of many of the UK’s leading automotive retailers and manufacturers.

Featuring brand new research conducted by employee insight specialists, Qlearsite, the White Paper reveals that 88% of the automotive organisations surveyed encouragingly identify D&I as a key priority; an increase from 85% in 2018. Reflecting the fundamental business requirement to evolve alongside the rapidly increasing sophistication of the industry, 53% believe the need to attract and retain a greater array of skills and experiences was the primary motivation for driving a D&I agenda. Although the number is falling, 7% of automotive businesses said its D&I focus was to comply with legal requirements, indicating that for nearly one in 10, D&I disappointingly remains a tick boxing exercise.

Reassuringly, the research revealed that whilst there is clearly room for improvement, the general perception within the industry is that D&I progress has been made over the last 12 months: 61% of respondents said their progress had been ‘fair’ or ‘good’, whilst just over a quarter (28%) felt it had been ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

Organisations have largely shown a positive commitment to modernising ways of working, with 56% claiming to offer flexibility in working arrangements, 36% redefining how teams work and 29% have begun developing a business case for better work-life balance. Clearly, significant progress is being made towards enabling employees to tailor their work lives around the priorities in their personal lives, but worryingly, one in five (22%) organisations believe they haven’t made any progress in these areas.

What’s working? According to this year’s study, the industry is progressing towards achieving a more diverse and inclusive workforce and environment, frequently attributing the progress to improvements in training and development of existing talent (36%) and recruitment of new talent (19%).

The top two most pressing issues around D&I are both centred around leadership. The lack of people from under-represented groups reaching senior and C-suite roles within the automotive industry is considered the most pressing (33% agree), closely followed by the automotive sector failing to see diversity as a business-critical leadership issue and therefore not demonstrating commitment from its senior leadership (29% agree). When asked what needs to be done, leadership and gender are the top two actions prioritised across the 2018 and 2019 reports, suggesting the industry wants more women in senior roles.

Commenting on the findings, Auto Trader’s Manufacturer and Agency Director, Rebecca Clark, said: “All of the data shows that retailers that represent the communities in which they serve provide a better, and more profitable, in-dealership experience for their customers. And crucially, as the industry rapidly evolves in terms of how people buy cars, pay for them, and the cars themselves, new skills and ways of thinking will be fundamental at every single level. It’s rewarding to see recognition at such a senior level that a D&I strategy that can attract and retain the very best talent is no longer a nice to have, but critical to success. Our report shows whilst we have some way to go, we’re making some great progress – I cannot wait to see where we’ll be in a year’s time.”

Lynda Ennis, founder of Ennis & Co., commented: “The automotive sector continues to undergo challenges and exciting changes. We now see ourselves at a positive turning point when it comes to diversity and inclusion, yet there is still work to be done. I hasten to add – this isn’t a negative comment. By realising what requires more attention in the D&I field, we can eliminate just the ‘conversation’ aspect and implement more action. If we continue to identify the aspects that require further attention and make changes that could lead to positive, reinforced change across the industry, this will help us to do more than simply just survive but to grow and thrive too.”

The report includes commentary and best practice advice from a range of industry senior executives, including Daksh Gupta (CEO, Marshall Motor Group), Mandeep Dhatt (Executive Director of HR, McLaren Automotive), Matt Davies (HR Director, Addison Lee Group) and Gill Crowther (General Manager, HR & Administration, Mitsubishi Motors), who joined circa 90 HR directors, MDs and CEOs for a one day collaborative seminar in May, hosted by Auto Trader and Ennis & Co.

To download a free copy of the report, please visit: https://cdn-autotraderplc.azureedge.net/media/1645/making-di-a-business-reality-second-edition-june-2019.pdf

by Comms Team