DETROIT, Nov. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Rainbow PUSH Coalition stressed the importance of ensuring that minorities are included in the automotive supply chain as the industry makes the transition to electric vehicles at the 23rd Global Automotive Summit.
More than 700 automotive executives, minority dealers, and government officials from around the world attended the two-day conference in Detroit to talk about diversity and inclusion industry trends.
“We have been focused on holding automakers accountable to minority purchasing programs and support for minority dealer programs since our inception,” said Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, founder and president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “But now, as our nation begins to more fully embrace electric vehicles, we must deal with a changing supply chain and overall automotive landscape. The Biden Administration has announced that the federal government will invest $5 billion in electric vehicle charging infrastructure over the next five years – and we intend to work to make sure that we get our fair share of equity and parity.”
The conference kicked off on Monday with the release of the Automotive Diversity Scorecard. The Scorecard allows automotive manufacturers’ leadership teams to self-evaluate their companies’ diversity initiatives. This year, for the first time in the history of the scorecard, no automaker received a single red grade – which typically indicates deficient diversity and inclusion programs. More details about the results of the scorecard can be found here.
Despite that notable progress, significant challenges remain.
“One of the main issues we came here to discuss this week is how do we make sure African American business owners, dealers, employees and customers continue to be included as the age of electrification continues to evolve,” said John A. Graves, Chairman of the Global Automotive Summit.
Throughout the week, keynote speakers and industry experts said tremendous opportunities exist for minorities to become more involved in the new age of automotive mobility, but expressed concern that there is a danger of being left behind.
Marc Bland, Chief Diversity Officer, S&P Global Mobility, said African Americans are going to increase their new vehicle buying power by 31% over the next six years due to population growth trends in the U.S. market. However, Bland said African Americans currently represent 8% of new vehicle purchases but only 4.7% of new electric vehicle purchases.
“The evolution of the EV market is upon us, and automakers need to remain focused on developing and growing their EV share with diverse audiences as they launch new models into the market,” Bland said.
Both Stellantis COO Mark Stewart and Ford CEO Jim Farley reiterated their companies’ commitment to diversity and inclusion programs during on-stage conversations with Rev. Jackson.
When asked if there is still time for African American automotive suppliers to become involved in the electric vehicle market, Stewart provided an optimistic outlook.
“It’s not too late, not by a long shot. Now is the time,” Stewart said.
Stellantis North America was awarded with its second Benchmark Award from Rainbow PUSH Coalition for its commitment to supporting a workforce training program at Wayne County Community College District (WCCD). Dr. Curtis L. Ivery, Chancellor of WCCCD. also received the Benchmark Award for his leadership in the program’s execution.
The Mechatronics program includes more than $10 million in donated robotics equipment from Stellantis, Comau, and other Tier 1 suppliers to create training for job opportunities in the automotive industry. An additional $10 million will be invested by the college for infrastructure and staffing to support the program, which is expected to launch in the second quarter of 2023.
Farley said he is proud that Ford has led the industry with two consecutive record years of minority dealer appointments and spends nearly $10 billion with diverse Tier 1 suppliers in North America.
Farley also said the electric vehicle industry is still in an early stage and there are many future opportunities for minority-owned companies to get more involved.
“I would say we are in the second inning of a nine-inning game,” Farley said. “But we are not really making them (electric vehicles) at high scale yet. But that is about to change…it will be the biggest change in our industrial system since the 1920s.”