Automotive industry slow to take diversity to the next level, new research shows
22nd June 2018

New automotive sector research findings are a wake-up call for leaders to be bold or risk missing out on top talent.  

New 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 specialist executive search consultancy Ennis & Co, believes that starting a meaningful, collaborative conversation about D&I culture in this way is long overdue:

“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.”

Workshops and a number of keynote presentations took place throughout the day, which was hosted by Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, in partnership with Ennis & Co.  These interactive discussions led to a number of outcomes designed to help shape the future D&I narrative across the automotive industry. The most significant of which is the pressing need to let go of traditional, old practices and embrace bold new initiatives and new ways of working.

Speaking at the end of the conference, Auto Trader’s manufacturer & agency director, Rebecca Clark, said:

“We know first-hand that change is not an easy process, but as this event highlighted, together we’re able to create practical steps which will lead to tangible benefits. We’ve already come so far, but I cannot wait to see where we’ll be in a year’s time.”

Companies in attendance included factory-owned TrustFord, Inchcape, Jardine Motors Group, Marshall Motor Group, Volvo, Volkswagen, Avis Budget Group, Williams Martini Racing, Nissan, Bentley, BMW, Harley Davidson, McLaren, the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), and the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

To obtain a copy of the research analysis report ‘Making Diversity & Inclusion a Business Reality’, please download it here.

Image / Image – ‘Making Diversity & Inclusion a Business Reality’ is the title of a new study into diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry.

About Ennis & Co.

Ennis & Co is a global executive search and consultancy firm, working across all aspects of the automotive sector, from manufacture to retail, as well as the supply chain and support services such as third-party suppliers and related associations. Within this broad remit, Ennis & Co recruits all disciplines at a senior level. Based in Lymington, Hampshire, Ennis & Co is run by Lynda Ennis, and managing director, Jamie Ashman.

About Auto Trader

Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK’s vehicle buying process and its primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 250 Index.

The marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Auto Trader has over 88% prompted brand awareness and attracts an average of 55 million monthly cross platform visits a month, with circa 70% of visits coming through mobile devices.

The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing more than 470,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on