Unique holistic approach announced at inaugural meeting of IMI Diversity Task Force

Diversity Taskforce

The inaugural meeting of the IMI Diversity Task Force was held earlier this month (3rd June), chaired by IMI President, Professor Jim Saker. As Professor Saker explained, whilst there has been positive debate and action to tackle the lack of gender diversity in automotive, the IMI Task Force aims to take a truly holistic approach to identify the full scope of issues that are creating the barriers to entry and career progression in the sector.

“The end-game of the IMI Diversity Task Force is to devise action plans that can be adopted right across the sector to improve diversity universally” said Professor Saker. “That means looking at all areas where there is currently a lack of diversity – including race and disability, as well as gender. Creating more opportunities and driving up diversity will help address the much talked about skills shortages and attract talent to the sector.”

The first opportunity for each of the Task Force’s Working Groups to convene, the meeting also provided an important forum for individuals from across the automotive sector to debate the issues and achieve consensus on the Working Group objectives. Crucially, representation at the meeting included a number of individuals who have had first-hand experience of the issues the Task Force is setting out to challenge.

Andy Kent, founder of Andy’s Kars, which championed the employment of people with disabilities – visible and invisible – highlighted the significant advantages of employers looking beyond traditional profiles for new recruits. “I’m particularly excited about the approach of the IMI Diversity Task Force to look at how employers can be more open to working with individuals with a disability. 

“Over 20 years my business trained more than 600 young people with disabilities and learning challenges. The one thing that was always very clear was that individuals with a disability have an overwhelming desire to overcome the challenges they face. The key is to look at the person, the ability, and not the disability. I look forward to contributing my insight and experience to the Physical & Non-Visible Disabilities Working Group led by Sarah Sillars.”

Nathan Sawbridge, Head of Business at Lexus & Toyota Nottingham at Inchcape UK, highlighted the increasing risk for the automotive sector of disengagement by GenZ if a lack of diversity is allowed to continue. “The reality is that certain sectors of society do not see automotive as an aspirational career route. We have to change that perception by creating an environment where equality is clearly demonstrated.  We also have to ensure that the issue of equality is addressed across all areas of inequality and I am particularly excited that the IMI Task Force is taking such a holistic approach. 

“The Gender Pay Gap report has been a driver for change on gender imbalance but currently there aren’t the same drivers for change in the areas of race and disability. I look forward to working with Kevin Finn, chair of the Race & Ethnicity Working Group, to identify the actions that will ensure that equality of outcome becomes a measure of success; not just equality of opportunity.”

Hayley Pells, Director at Avia Sports Cars, welcomed the news that the Task Force will look at children’s perceptions of automotive as part of its base research. “Working with Chair of the Gender Identity Working Group, Linda Jackson, CEO of the PEUGEOT Brand, I’m excited to bring my first-hand experience in schools to help inform the outcomes of this initiative. I have seen the ingrained perceptions of male and female roles in some of the youngest children. I also have a concern that we lose the young people that come into our sector, male and female, because of a demonstrable lack of diversity.”

“Our overriding objective is to understand how the sector can be more attractive to work in for all individuals, but specifically for those currently under-represented in the workforce”, concluded Lesley Woolley, Chief Operating Officer at the IMI. “The insights brought to our first meeting give us huge confidence that we are attracting a broad representation of the sector to ensure that the outcome of the Task Force is meaningful right across the industry.”

IMI Diversity Task Force Key Milestones and Deliverables:

  • May/June 2021 – Industry Expert Panel established 
  • June 2021 – Working Groups established 
  • July – October 2021 – Research Project
  • November 2021 – Research consolidation, analysis and initial recommendations
  • December 2021 – Interim report published for consultation with stakeholders
  • March 2022 – IMI Diversity Task Force final report published

Attendees at the first IMI Diversity Task Force meeting included:

  • Deborah Astles - HR Director, Corporate Responsibility and Policy - Unipart 
  • Tony Campbell - CEO - MCIA 
  • Adrian Davies - Director of Continuous Improvement - IMI Board Member - RAC
  • Antonella Dimaria - Executive anc Board Assistant - IMI
  • Robert Forrester - Chief Executive Officer - Vertu Motors PLC 
  • Daksh Gupta - Group Chief Executive Officer - Marshall MotorGroup
  • Gareth Halliwell - Retail Sales Director - DAF Trucks Limited 
  • Eddie Hawthorn - Chief Executive and Group Managing Director - Arnold Clark 
  • Esther Hills - Central Engineering Director - IMI Board Member - Aggreko 
  • Sally-Anne Hodder - Head of HR and Business Support - IMI
  • Linda Jackson - Chief Executive Officer - Peugeot 
  • Andy Kent - Author 
  • Rachel Leech - Engagement Manager - IMI Board Member - RSSB
  • Dee McHugh - Executive Assistant - IMI 
  • Tony McKillop - Regional Office and Claims Manager - Autoguard Warranties
  • Julia Muir - Chief Executive Officer - Gaia Innovation
  • Steve Nash - Chief Executive Officer - IMI 
  • Lara Nicoll - Manager, Diversity and Inclusion - Ford Motor Company 
  • Patrick (Paddy) O'Connell - Head of Operations - NFDA, Head of Associations - NMDA
  • Hayley Pells - Director - Avia Sports Cars Ltd
  • Melvin Rogers - Director of Human Resources - Sytner Group Ltd 
  • Jim Saker - Professor - IMI President - Loughborough University 
  • Nathan Sawbridge - Head of Business - Lexus and Toyota Nottingham at Inchcape UK
  • Sarah Sillars OBE - Vice President - IMI 
  • Chris Thomas - Finance Director - RMI 
  • Andy Turbefield - Head of Quality - Halfords 
  • Lesley Wooley - Chief Operating Officer - IMI