“Many have gone before us to open doors for women across all sectors of business and industry; it’s our responsibility now not to waste the efforts of those trailblazers. Girls at school should be able to see that they can do whatever they want, in whatever sector they choose. And for those of us in leadership roles in automotive, it is imperative that we ensure those future generations can see that our sector will inspire, enthuse and reward them equally.”

Chief Operating Officer of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) since 2016, I have worked in the automotive professional body for more than three decades. Certainly much has changed in terms of the technology and innovation in automotive in that time, but what hasn’t changed is the importance of giving every individual the right recognition for their skills and professionalism. This, I believe, is key to each person having the best career and life-chance opportunities which, in turn, means the best possible workplace satisfaction. And happy employees usually mean happy customers!

Throughout my career I have championed initiatives that empower personal development and career progression, finding ways to give anyone working in the sector access to the tools and support to capitalise on their abilities. I am also a fervent believer that variety and diversity in all walks of life will deliver the best outcomes for all. It was tremendously exciting, therefore, to be able to work with Professor Jim Saker, President of the IMI, to lead the IMI Diversity Task Force during 2021, culminating in the publication of our Diversity Task Force Report in March 2022.

There is no doubt that our sector is facing significant challenges in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. There are a multitude of reasons why we have arrived at this point but unquestionably the lack of diversity that currently exists is a contributing factor. However, achieving and sustaining a truly diverse workforce requires significant change, and that change needs to be informed by industry insight and those with real-life experiences.
The IMI Diversity Task Force was established to understand the challenges and barriers under-represented groups face when working in, or trying to enter automotive. The insight it has delivered now gives us a critical benchmark from which to achieve and measure change.
There is a moral case that we need to treat people equitably, in entry to, but also in progression and development within our organisations. There is also overwhelming economic evidence that diversity and inclusion make a dramatic impact to the bottom line when it comes to business performance.

The next step for the IMI is to start to address the recommendations made in the Diversity Task Force Report and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues both within the IMI and the many members of the Task Force Steering Groups to bring those recommendations to life.

I am also tremendously excited to become a Patron of the Automotive 30% Club and, in particular, be involved in the Inspiration for Innovation Network which the IMI is sponsoring. Our research for the Diversity Task Force Report identified that children as young as 6 are already making decisions about what they want to do and be when they grow up. So having the chance to be involved in some of the many schools activities led by the Network will give me and the wider IMI community the opportunity to win the hearts and minds of future automotive employees.

The automotive sector will be a better place, for employees and customers, if there is greater diversity in the opportunities available. There’s plenty of data that supports the argument that businesses with good diversity thrive, but I believe that intuitively it is just the right thing to do.