26.01.22 IMI CEO Liveryman Steve Nash

IMI creates diversity task force

IMI CEO Liveryman Steve Nash

The automotive industry is going through the most profound changes it has experienced for more than 100 years, writes IMI CEO Liveryman Steve Nash. But, just at the point where we need to be growing our workforce and attracting new skills and talent, we find ourselves contending with a general shortage of people across all areas of the economy. To compound the challenge, the automotive industry has never attracted a particularly diverse workforce. To be blunt, it has historically been dominated by white males who now represent less than 40% of the total workforce.

Continuing to fish in the same restricted pond for talent is clearly not an answer. But the arguments in favour of developing a more diverse workforce go far beyond widening the recruitment funnel. There is a wealth of evidence to support the assertion that diverse workforces are more effective, more creative and lead to greater profitability.

This is why the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has assembled a formidable task force, headed by President Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University, to help develop effective strategies which will support the diversification of our workforce.
The task is multi-faceted, which is why we have created three work groups, each looking at specific under-represented groups: Gender identity – headed by Linda Jackson, Peugeot Brand CEO; race & ethnicity – headed by Kevin Finn, IMI Chairman; and physical & non-physical disabilities, headed by Master Coachmaker, Sarah Sillars OBE. All are supported by panels of experts and representatives from each of the specific minority groups who can contribute their own personal knowledge and experiences.

A link to the task force’s interim report is included in this article and gives a flavour of what can be expected when the final report is published in March 2022, coinciding with the IMI Annual Dinner.

Arguably there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the automotive industry. The plethora of new technologies, including electrification, autonomous and highly connected cars, all serve to place automotive at the pinnacle of the tech industries. Changes to the way in which we sell cars and engage with customers are also happening incredibly fast and will lead to the creation of new roles and changes to traditional roles.

So there are plenty of positive reasons why individuals should aspire to being part of such a dynamic industry. But we must first address the perennial issue of homophily (recruiting in our own image), which has formerly been endemic in our industry. Then we must properly understand the barriers to entry for a truly diverse workforce. That is a business imperative if we are to acquire the talented individuals our industry urgently needs and goes together with understanding and addressing any negative perceptions, particularly among younger age groups and their parents and advisors.

I look forward to sharing the final report with you in due course and, in the meantime, I am pleased to provide a link to the interim report which can be found here: https://tide.theimi.org.uk/about-imi/diversity-task-force