Embracing diversity and innovation (D&I) in the automotive industry is not only morally ethical, but it’s a core driver of innovation, attracting and retaining top talent, increased productivity, customer satisfaction and profitability.
Successful implementation of D&I requires cross-functional collaboration within a business as well as with other dealer groups and suppliers.
- Diversity brings together people of different backgrounds, genders, religions, cultures or education levels. Creating an environment where unique perspectives are received means that valuable insights, ideas and solutions are acknowledged and accepted. This challenges the status quo and moves people from their comfort zones to those of creativity and innovation.
- Different opinions and thought patterns can serve as opportunities to increase customer satisfaction.
- Different perspectives leading to innovation that is required to stay abreast of rapidly-changing times.
- Attracting and retaining a more disparate talent pool within the organisation.
- Adopting a diverse business culture will create a positive, people-friendly environment that will reduce turnover rates and the associated costs that come with it.
- Recent studies conducted by McKinsey revealed that the more diverse a business is, the better they preform financially.
Adopt the New-Age Interpretation of D&I
Diversity extends further than gender, ethnicity and race. In today’s workplace, diversity also encompasses:
- religious affiliation
- sexual orientation
- thinking style and
- personality type
Companies need to realise that D&I does not only entail meeting HR initiatives but the individuals’ needs. Grasping this new way of thinking will enable managers to improve their products and services.
Create an Inclusive Culture
- Develop D&I Policies: Once developed, ensure policies are accessible to all employees to review, understand and sign.
- D&I Training: Training sessions should communicate polices relating to D&I, expected conduct and how employees should relay concerns to management if they feel someone is discriminated against, attacked or threatened.
- Create a Safe Haven: So that the voice, perspectives, opinions and ideas of every member of the organisation are valued and considered equally, with fair decision-making authority and recognition.
- Hiring Practices: Ensure that hiring processes make provision for employing people from different cultural, religious, age, race, ethnic and corporate backgrounds.
- Employee-led Groups: Create voluntary group sessions where employees can establish cross-functional relationships, receive or offer mentoring initiatives and development opportunities for employees from a variety of different backgrounds. This strategy will allow a business to attract and retain talented, motivated and diverse personnel.
Monitor and Measure
Instilling a culture of D&I is a work in progress that requires constant monitoring and measuring to ensure its success. Management needs to measure the results of what they manage. Approximately 85% of South Africa’s Top Employers assess the effect and efficiency of their D&I strategy on a regular basis.
Leaders Should Model D&I Practices
To set an example as well as the tone for the rest of the company, leaders should:
- Employ Diversity Best Practices: For instance, train all recruitment managers to adhere to the stipulated inclusive hiring criteria and processes.
- Foster Inclusion: Leaders must ensure that once they’ve hired a diverse workforce, they value and consider the perspectives and ideas of these employees, regardless of their background.
- Enforce Accountability: D&I policies must clearly stipulate the consequences employees who fail to adhere to policy rules will encounter. Harsher discord will obviously receive more serious ramifications, such as dismissal.
- Keep Informed: Employers must stay abreast of evolving laws, thereby adjusting their current D&I policies and staying up-to-date.
Develop D&I Strategic Partnerships
Foster partnerships with members of the company’s supply chains to ensure the success of D&I initiatives in every regard. Strategic partnerships with a diverse supply base of entrepreneurs will offer dealers novel insights that could result in ground-breaking innovations and fast track business development by better meeting the needs and expectations of customers.
Supporting and collaborating with suppliers owned by minorities empowers them with business opportunities, contributing to their chance to operate enterprises of increased scope and capacity.