The IMI awards two Honorary Fellowships as Diversity and Inclusion steps up a gear

The IMI awards two Honorary Fellowships as Diversity and Inclusion steps up a gear

Prestigious automotive accolades reflect commitment and contribution to the IMI Diversity Task Force

As automotive vacancies reach their highest level for 20 years , the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has awarded Honorary Fellowships to Nathan Sawbridge and Andy Kent. They have both been bestowed the honour in recognition of their steadfast contribution to the IMI Diversity Task Force, which aims to make the motor sector more attractive to work in for all individuals, helping to quell the drought of skilled, talented individuals and promote diverse role models across the sector.

The IMI Diversity Taskforce, which published its final report in March, highlighted that lack of diversity, especially amongst higher pay grades, is now a fundamental barrier to recruitment. It emphasised that all automotive employers must put diversity and inclusion at the top of their agenda from the board room to the workshop, and the report’s recommendations must be acted on as a catalyst for much needed change.

Nathan Sawbridge, Dealer Principal, Toyota and Lexus, who played a vital role as part of the Race and Ethnicity Working Group, explains what the Honorary Fellowship means to him: “The Honorary Fellowship from the IMI is important to me as it showcases the true importance of D&I in the industry. It is clear that societal values are shifting and businesses need to adapt to these changes in order to remain competitive and prosper, especially where we are experiencing such a labour shortage. As an industry, we have been guilty of historically downplaying D&I, however I feel having the IMI shine a light in this area really shows a change in focus.

“For me personally – the Fellowship provides a platform for voices which have otherwise been unheard. I also hope that it goes some way to encourage other people from under-represented communities to consider the industry. I genuinely hope that the Fellowship assists me in further progression in the industry and ensuring that diversity is heard and seen at the most senior levels of the industry.”

The Task Force analysis of the motor sector also revealed that automotive attracts more people with disabilities and hidden disabilities, for example, ADHD, dyslexia and other areas of neurodiversity, than comparable industry sectors. The Physical and Non-Visible Disabilities Working Group established a need for a shift of culture, promoting greater openness and discussion to help unleash the full potential of these individuals.

The IMI awards two Honorary Fellowships as Diversity and Inclusion steps up a gear


Now retired from the industry, Andy Kent, a Subject Matter Expert in the Physical and Non-Visible Disabilities Working Group, has instinctively incorporated diversity and inclusion into his life-long automotive career, as he explains: “I started working in the motor industry in 1972 as a garage hand and retired after owning and running my own business for over twenty years. During this time I never did anything that was directly targeted at getting recognition like this. I always worked to educate my staff to the highest level they could achieve within their own abilities, to service my customers to the best of my abilities and provide for my family. This was a very nice surprise getting recognition from my own industry in this way.”

Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI added: “Both Nathan and Andy were such inspirational members of their Working Groups in the Diversity Task Force, providing a platform for the under-represented within our industry and really enabling us as a sector to ‘take the blinkers off’ and view ourselves from a different standpoint. It’s really an honour for the IMI to be able to reward them for their contribution to the Diversity Task Force, which we hope will not only make a massive difference now, but will continue to do so in years to come.”