Sixteen of the UK automotive industry’s biggest brands have come together to launch the sector’s first Automotive Diversity & Inclusion Charter.
The founding signatories, representing a fifth of the sector’s manufacturing workforce, as well as organisations including Unite the Union and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), are pledging a collective, public commitment to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive (DE&I) workforce that is reflective of wider society. The landmark initiative will support ongoing efforts to retain and attract top talent as the industry undertakes its biggest technological and industrial transformation in more than a hundred years amid critical skills shortages.
By signing the Charter, companies publicly recognise that creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is not only ethically responsible but good for business. The benefits include increasing employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement, leading to greater productivity and retention; improving decision making and problem solving; fostering greater creativity from diverse perspectives; and making companies – and the wider sector – more attractive to top talent.
Signatories commit to take action in eight key areas with the aim of accelerating progress across all aspects of DE&I within their own companies. Pledges include appointing a board-level DE&I champion to lead change from the top; embedding DE&I policies into company values; improving recruitment practices to encourage diversity of applicants; supporting career opportunities and development for every employee; creating more flexible working environments; and reporting diversity data and progress to the Automotive Council on an annual basis.
The Charter and pledges have been established in response to recommendations in the Automotive Council report Driving diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK automotive industry, which focuses, as a first step, on gender balance.
While the report acknowledges that many companies have impressive DE&I programmes and initiatives in place, it shows the overall automotive manufacturing sector lags behind other UK industries, with women representing 12% of the workforce compared with 47% in the UK workforce as a whole.
The report also identifies diversity as a business-critical issue, citing among other studies 2019 analysis from Mckinsey, which found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above average profitability than those in the fourth quartile. In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, this outperformance rose to 36%.
The UK Automotive Diversity & Inclusion Charter is the first time efforts to improve sectoral DE&I have been united under one banner and follows initiatives already in place across other sectors, including aviation and aerospace, defence, finance, rail and retail. It will provide a platform for the industry, via the Automotive Council, to share best practice, promote positive initiatives and report on progress in the years ahead.
Announcing the Charter at the SMMT Annual Dinner this evening, Alison Jones, SMMTPresident and Stellantis Senior Vice President Global Circular Economy, is expected to say, “Despite talking about this for years, with some good initiatives and progress, the Automotive Council’s first Diversity Report shows that as an industry our results are, sadly, still really low. We have to accelerate our efforts again to ensure a truly diverse and inclusive workforce. I urge everyone to join this landmark initiative, alongside the sixteen founding organisations, to really make a positive human and business impact for our workforce, our organisations and our industry.”