Automotive News: Industry Diversity Needed Now

The automotive industry finds itself at a defining moment with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our companies’ futures depend on our ability to attract, retain and develop talent. The growth, sustainability and financial well-being of our industry is directly correlated to making our work forces look more like the society in which we operate and the consumers we serve.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are not trends — they are necessities. This year has presented both tragedy and opportunity. The question is, can this industry truly embrace diversity, equity and inclusion and commit to transformative change?

Google the business case for diversity, and you will find multiple studies talking about the benefits of diversity on teams, in leadership and on boards. More specifically, companies with women and minorities in decision-making roles experience better financial performance, higher rates of return on investment and higher employee retention rates when compared with companies that do not. Studies have shown that companies with diverse leadership teams are eight times more likely to have better business outcomes, six times more likely to be innovative and agile and 21 percent more likely to outperform on profitability when in the top quartile for gender diversity. Cultural, gender and demographic diversity will make a difference in the long-term success of the auto industry.

So why is it that in a $400 billion industry we have so few women and minorities in top leadership roles? Numbers among management, middle management and entry-level employees are not much better. Although largely unpublished, our industry has higher attrition rates for women and minorities than for white male counterparts.

Anecdotally, we know the underlying issues — unwelcoming and noninclusive corporate cultures, inflexible work environments, lack of advancement opportunities and a lack of representation in upper levels. If our industry wants to thrive, or even survive, it must change.

Our shared experiences in the automotive industry equate to more than 60 years of work in tool and die, engineering, prototype development, advocacy, sales and marketing and manufacturing. What we know is this:

  1. Investments of time, resources and money in women and minorities in leadership have been inconsistent, resulting in slow progress over the last 20 years.
  2. People of color, the differently abled and other minorities cannot solve these issues without engagement from allies and strong company leadership.
  3. In the face of an industry talent shortage, we need to expand our efforts to fill open positions with a diverse, qualified work force.
  4. Other industries have blazed a trail for us to follow.
  5. Transformation is possible with the right engagement and support.
  6. This industry is built to solve problems.
  7. It is time to change the conversation, starting with top management. CEOs must be the owners and change agents.

We call on industry leaders and CEOs to take action now. Diversity, equity and inclusion are ideas and ideals that start with the corporate culture, but they also are supported by a system that details policies, practices and procedures that ensure a level playing field for everyone. It can be done. Will it take time? Yes. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. In an industry driven by metrics, the numbers will speak for themselves.

We often talk about how Michigan “put the world on wheels.” This industry was built by the innovation and grit of immigrants, by minorities who came from the South and other places looking for a new opportunity, and by men and women who were born and grew up in Michigan. It is time we remember our roots and understand that this inflection point can lead us to a bright future if we work collectively on systematic change.

Diversity has always mattered, but this inflection point mandates that we bring it culturally, strategically and tactically to the forefront of our companies. Our economic future and opportunity for all depend on it. Make the decision to implement change. We urge you not to stand still.

This piece was coauthored by MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. and Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement’s CEO Cheryl Thompson.

*Originally published in Automotive News.

Detroit News: How Biden Could Accelerate Sweeping Change in Auto Industry

November 7, 2020

The Detroit News

By Breana Noble

President-elect Joe Biden could help accelerate the most sweeping technological shift in the auto industry since Henry Ford’s moving assembly line a century ago, analysts said, as automation, connectivity and electrification go mainstream and transform transportation as generations have known it.

President Donald Trump relaxed regulations for the industry and cut taxes, but he also called out CEOs on Twitter for decisions to close factories, build vehicles in Mexico and support California’s stricter fuel-economy standards. Biden’s leadership is expected to provide a less eruptive approach to the industry and trade.

Since Michigan is a key to rebuilding the so-called “blue wall” of labor support in the industrial Midwest, he also has promised to be “the most friendly” president to unions and to grow jobs in the industry.

“A Biden presidency would likely bring less volatility to the communication process and trade,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, a division of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “That is something the industry really needs and wants, which is an active line of communication with policymakers and dialogue on an ongoing basis. The industry needs stability because it is a capital-intensive, global business.”

Biden proposes to accelerate electric-vehicle production and adoption, a transformation already underway inside Detroit’s automakers and a growing set of start-up companies. The technological change requires billions of dollars in investments with significant implications on jobs and operations even as consumer acceptance remains uncertain.

“The auto sector’s overall vitality is critical to America’s economy and is the nation’s largest durable goods manufacturer, supporting more than 10 million jobs coast to coast,” said John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation that represents automakers in Washington. “Advancing cleaner, safer, smarter mobility will be a cornerstone to continuing the economic recovery from the COVID-19 public health situation as well as helping us meet our safety and environmental goals.”

The state that put America on wheels soon may have a different kind of ally in the White House. A more traditional Democrat, Biden has played up his role in the auto-industry bailout under President Barack Obama that began during the Bush administration. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was on Biden’s short list for vice president. And United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble called Biden “a friend of UAW members and labor.”

“Our members, our families and our communities are hurting in this pandemic and with economic challenges, health care challenges and workplace rights and safety challenges as union members,” Gamble said in a statement. “These are the issues that unite us as union members regardless of who is in power in the White House, in Congress or our courts.”

Ford Motor Co. — which has said it is investing $11 billion on future technologies — cited steadiness in policy Saturday when the race was called for Biden by the Associated Press: “It is our hope these leaders will focus on bringing the country together and pursue policies that encourage U.S. manufacturing, sustainability and global economic stability.”

General Motors Co. is spending $20 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, with 20 fully electric nameplates in its global portfolio by 2023. Cadillac could be a fully electric brand by 2030, and GM has shared plans for three U.S. manufacturing plants to produce electric vehicles.

“We look forward to working with the new administration and incoming Congress,” the Detroit automaker said in a statement, “on policies that support our customers, dealers and employees, help strengthen our manufacturing presence in the United States and advance our vision of an all-electric, zero-emissions future.”

Noting the industry is “one of the most powerful engines of the U.S. economy,” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it hopes to work with the new government “to strengthen the automotive industry and build a more secure future for our employees, customers and society.”

FCA is poised to consummate its transatlantic merger with Groupe PSA of France to increase investments in e-mobility. FCA previously said it plans to spend $10.5 billion on electrification efforts through 2022.

Despite those widely publicized plans, Biden in an October ABC town hall said without explanation on electric vehicles: “We’re not investing. We’re not doing any of the research.”

The former vice president said electrification efforts would save billions of gallons of oil and help create 1 million auto industry jobs even though electric vehicles require fewer parts and workers to make them. The federal government will purchase American-made electric vehicles, he said, though U.S. electric-vehicle sales in 2019 accounted for less than 5% of the total.

Detroit’s three automakers posted robust earnings for the third quarter, citing strong retail demand and pricing for trucks and SUVs. Under a tentative agreement GM has made with Canadian labor union Unifor, it would reverse course and return truck manufacturing to its Oshawa plant in Ontario.

“Right now you look at the price of oil and gas, and you do a cost-benefit analysis of these vehicles because of the advancements that have been made in these vehicles,” the Detroit chamber’s Stevens said. “You’re getting remarkable mileage on vehicles that traditionally did not. These are the market forces at play right now.”

Biden has said he would increase incentives for purchasing electric vehicles to increase consumer adoption, including a program he has mentioned that is reminiscent of a $3 billion Obama administration initiative known as “cash for clunkers” that helped more than 690,000 people buy a new car in 2009 with government rebates of up to $4,500. The program, he has said, would give Americans an incentive to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But those plans could be tempered if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor: “Anything there may be moderated by reaching bipartisan compromise on spending.”

The same is true for infrastructure investment. Biden has said he would deploy 500,000 charging stations by 2030, though even more will be needed for widespread adoption, Stevens said.

Biden has expressed a willingness to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords that would require the United States to be net-zero in carbon emissions by 2050. He may have more control over how to proceed with fuel-economy standards that Trump has rolled back from stricter regulations implemented under Obama and that have divided the auto industry.

The former vice president has suggested he would withdraw Trump’s challenge to California’s efforts to limit greenhouse gases, which Ford has supported. Meanwhile, GM and FCA have sided with the Trump administration, which called for a single national standard.

Stricter regulations could prove costly. A federal Court of Appeals in August overturned Trump’s delay in the more-than-double increase in penalties for automakers that do not meet fuel-economy standards. If that decision is applied to the 2019 model year, FCA says it could cost it up to almost $583 million.

But the challenges to the Trump rollbacks would take years to play out in the courts, Dziczek said: “Ending that will provide some more certainty for the auto industry.”

Likewise, Dziczek expected Biden will take a more predictable, strategic approach to tariffs and trade compared with Trump’s tactical efforts to use tariffs — or the threat of them — to pressure foreign nations into signing deals.

“If you were using tariffs as a way to protect the domestic industry and allow it to grow, you need to provide some long-term signals,” she said. “Investing in steel capacity and automotive capacity costs billions of dollars. These are long-term investments that last a long time and will be less affected by tariffs that are only for six months or eight months.”

Efforts to re-engage in multinational discussions, such as through the World Trade Organization and the Trans Pacific Partnership that Trump rebuffed, could be possible. Central to those engagements, Stevens said, would be bringing back manufacturing from other countries. Biden has suggested providing a 10% tax credit for certain investments that spur domestic manufacturing jobs but also a 10% “offshoring penalty tax” on the corporate tax rate for profits U.S. companies make on goods made overseas and sold here.

Those, too, however, would be subject to scrutiny in a new Congress that is on track to be more evenly divided between the Republicans and Democrats than the one it would replace come January.

Biden has promised to “stand up to China’s trade abuse,” implement “aggressive” trade enforcement actions against the Middle Kingdom and protect American intellectual property. That could lead to more auto-industry production in North America, particularly of batteries used in vehicles, noted Patrick Anderson, CEO of the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group LLC.

“We noted this in February when we called coronavirus a crisis that electric-car batteries and lithium and other rare-earth materials that have been sourced in China have become a high-risk commodity for auto manufacturers and supplies,” he said.

The “Made in America” emphasis is a similar message that had been touted by Trump, but with a different approach.

“What this election provided is a negative vote on the referendum for Donald Trump, but a cautiously positive vote in favor of a pro-business, modestly conservative approach to regulation and taxation,” Anderson said. “Americans voted to increase the number of Republicans in Congress and probably to keep Republican control of the Senate. Biden was not elected based on enthusiasm for aggressive climate-change policies.”

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An Insider View on the 2020 Election and What it Means for MICHauto

As election results continue to roll in, there is no question that our automotive and mobility industry will be impacted. In spite of a few unexpected developments, MICHauto sees that several of our industry voices and strongest advocates will remain for another term, providing the consistency we need to keep moving our state forward.

Presumed New Speaker and Minority Leader Considered Allies to the Industry

In somewhat of a surprise to many in the Capitol community, Republicans have maintained their control of the Michigan House of Representatives, with a 58-52 margin. The next Speaker of the House is presumed to be Rep. Jason Wentworth. Presumed Speaker Wentworth is suspected to be an even closer ally to the industry. Rep. Wentworth is expected to be supportive of MICHauto’s policy agenda and the specific issues we anticipate advocating for including talent initiatives to support the industry and its growth, policy that fosters business growth as well as the development of connected, smart city, automated, and electrified vehicle technology and infrastructure, and the positioning and branding of the state’s industry as a viable career option.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Donna Lasinski of Ann Arbor is currently favored to be the next House Minority Leader. Rep. Lasinski is a long-time friend of MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber. She has a strong appreciation for the industry and mobility transformation, understanding its value to Michigan.

Upon confirmation, MICHauto will engage with both new leadership teams to discuss our policy priorities and committee chair assignments for the upcoming session.

Election Impact on the Auto Caucus

All four co-chairs of the Michigan Legislative Auto Caucus, Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Sen. Wayne Schmidt, Rep. Joe Tate, and Rep. Jim Lilly, will return for at least two more years. Both Tate and Lilly were up for reelection this year, with voters choosing to send them back to Lansing for another term. This tenure will provide a consistency of leadership and messaging within all four caucuses as the next legislative session begins.

Peters, Stevens Wins Important to the MICHauto Agenda

Two of the strongest advocates for the automotive industry in Congress survived hard-fought challenges. Sen. Gary Peters and Rep. Haley Stevens will return to their second terms in their respective chambers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, representatives from Peters’ and Stevens’ staffs have been in regular communication with MICHauto to ensure they understand the insights and needs of the industry. They have supported the industry re-opening in mid-May so that OEMs could get back online quickly, engaged in tariff discussions impacting our industry, and visited suppliers to see firsthand needs of the industry. Since mid-March, Peters, Stevens, and their offices have been on weekly MICHauto-led task force calls with the local industry. Together we have focused on the global COVID-19 pandemic to support the healthcare industry with manufacturing PPE, safely restarting and recovering the industry, and ensure the its long-term health and growth in the state.

On a broader scale, Democrats have retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives; Nancy Pelosi is currently presumed to be returning as Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy as Minority Leader. With a slimmer Democratic majority, Republicans may exercise more leverage next term, particularly if they keep the Senate. The Senate majority is still currently undecided, standing at 48-48 with four races remaining.

Research Highlight: Vehicle Production and Sales Rise in Face of Increased COVID-19 Cases

North American car and truck production came to a halt in April 2020 when manufacturing facilities and plants were forced to shut down due to COVID-19. Production numbers in the North America dropped dramatically from 1,056,117 in March 2020 to 4,840 in April 2020.  While states resumed production in mid-May, total North American production did not return to its pre-COVID levels with truck production at 1,012,713 and car production at 323,605 until Sept. 2020. This is slightly higher than Sept. 2019 production levels, which were lower than usual due to the 40-day UAW strike against General Motors from Sept. 15 to Oct. 25 in 2019.

Along with positive production numbers, light weight vehicles sales have also increased steadily since the initial impacts of COVID-19. The decline in sales began in March 2020, as dealerships closed in many states. Sales went from 994,202 units in March 2020 to 717,040 in April 2020. This is the lowest total United States monthly vehicle sales since early 2010. However, in Sept. 2020, 1.34 million units were sold.

Overall, in spite of a recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the United States, the production and sales numbers show a strengthening V-shaped recovery and a positive outlook for the automotive industry.

However, the question is whether this “return to normal” is sustainable. In order to ensure automotive manufacturing continues to operate and production and sales numbers continue at their current levels, employees need to commit to personal safety protocols too. Therefore, MICHauto is asking employers to share “SMART” Covid-19 personal safety protocols with their employees through commitment to the Work Smart, Play Smart to Keep Manufacturing Open campaign. If workers implement the simple practices included in the toolkit, they will ensure automotive manufacturing continues to operate and workplaces remain safe. Help keep manufacturing open, up and running. View the toolkit by following the link below.

View the MICHauto Work Smart, Play Smart to Keep Manufacturing Open toolkit.

View the complete data for the automotive economic indicators and watch for monthly updates – U.S. Light Weight Vehicles Sales and North American Car and Truck Production.


What’s at Stake for Michigan’s Auto Industry with the Next Presidency, Congress

October 25, 2020

Crain’s Detroit

By: Rick Haglund

Michigan’s automakers and the hundreds of parts suppliers who support them have a lot riding on the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Decisions by the next president and Congress on trade, the environment, energy and public health will have a huge impact on an industry making a historic transformation to electric vehicles.

And while automakers have bounced back from the coronavirus pandemic more quickly than predicted, some say the industry — particularly small suppliers — and consumers will need continued financial aid into 2021 to head off another collapse.

That could be especially critical if what appears to be a second round of COVID-19 ravages the country this winter and shuts down the economy again.

Click Here to View the Full Article. 

Gov. Whitmer Makes Appointments to Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced the following appointments to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification which will work to ensure Michigan continues to be the world leader in future mobility, including autonomous and connected vehicle technology, electric powertrain technology and charging infrastructure, and shared and transit mobility option. 


On Feb. 25, 2020, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-2 creating the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, housed within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, to replace the Council on Future Mobility, which was abolished under the order. The Council will serve in an advisory capacity to LEO and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, the governor, and the legislature, providing annual recommendations on changes in state policy. In doing so, the council will work to ensure Michigan continues to be an epicenter of future transportation solutions around mobility and electrification. 


The Governor has designated the Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to serve as chairperson of the council. This role is currently being held by Acting Director Susan Corbin who will serve as chairperson at the pleasure of the Governor. 


The Council will consist of the Directors from the Departments of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Transportation, Insurance and Financial Services, State Police, Treasury, Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, and the chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission. Additionally, the Governor is appointing the following 10 members to the council:  


  • Robert F. Babik, of Ann Arbor, is the executive director of global regulatory affairs and sustainability for General Motors Co. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Youngstown State University. Babik is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2024. 
  • Stephen J. Bartoli, of Birmingham, is the vice president of global greenhouse gas compliance for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group (FCA). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University. Bartoli is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2024.
  • Patrick Cadariu, of Detroit, is the head of vehicle and trucking supply chain operations for Waymo. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. Cadariu is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2023. 
  • Derek S. Caveney, of Plymouth, is an executive engineer for Toyota’s North American operations. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Queen’s University and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkley. Caveney is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2023.
  • Cory Connolly, of Detroit, is the vice president of policy at the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Michigan State University. Connolly is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2022.
  • Jeffrey A. Dokho, of Huntington Woods, is the research director for the United Auto Workers American Labor Union. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Michigan State University. Dokho is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2022.
  • Emily Frascaroli, of Grosse Ile, is managing counsel of the Product Litigation Group at Ford Motor Company, including the product litigation, asbestos, and discovery teams, and a lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, Master of Engineering in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University. Frascaroli is appointed to represent insurance interests for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2024.
  • Chris Nevers, of Dundee, is the director of environmental engineering and policy at Rivian Automotive. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toledo and a Master of Engineering in Automotive Engineering from the University of Michigan. Nevers is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2023.
  • Huei Peng, of Ann Arbor, is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan and the associate director of MCity. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the National Taiwan University, Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkley. Peng is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2021.
  • Satish S. Udpa, of Okemos, is a distinguished professor at Michigan State University and a fellow and editor for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Post Grad Diploma in Electrical Engineering from J.N.T. University in Hyderabad, India, and a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University. Udpa is appointed to represent business, policy, research, or technological leaders in future mobility for a term commencing Oct. 22, 2020, and expiring Oct. 22, 2021.

The following members of the Legislature will serve as non-voting ex officio members of the Council: Sen. Ken Horn designated by the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Mallory McMorrow designated by the Senate Minority Leader, Rep. Jim Lilly designated by the Speaker of the House, and Rep. Abdullah Hammoud designated by the House Minority Leader.  


These appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

COVID-19 Data Insights from Foley: Supply Chain Resilience

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain resilience has come into sharp focus for many manufacturing companies. Over the last few months, MICHauto investor Foley has collected insights on supply chain issues to provide guidance on how companies can enhance the assessment of their supply chain’s resilience.

The Supply Chain Survey Report is the result of input from approximately 150 industry executives.

Key findings of the Supply Chain Survey Report include:

  • 43% of the responding companies have already pulled out of China or are planning to do so, with many looking to reshore closer to home, be it in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.
  • 70% agree that companies will lessen their focus on sourcing from the lowest-cost supplier, with other resilience factors taking on an increased prominence.
  • 62% agree that the focus on just-in-time manufacturing models will also decrease.
  • More than 80% of the responding executives noted that multi-sourcing to reduce reliance on a single supplier for key products and services, and improving key business partner relationships were at the top of activities being executed on or considered to address supply chain resilience.

In addition, Foley has created Accelerating Trends Report 2020, which analyzes and offers guidance on supply chain trends, including rethinking China, resiliency strategies, efficiency, and innovation. The report also includes a Supply Chain Assessment Tool for assessing future process changes.

Experts Weigh In: Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on the Automotive Talent Pipeline

A leading lineup of automotive industry and education experts discussed the long-term talent impact of COVID-19 on the automotive talent pipeline. The two-part discussion hosted by MICHauto in partnership with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) focused first on both the industry perspective and the workforce development response.

Panel One: Industry Perspective on Talent Impact

Beginning the conversation with reflections on initial impressions of the expected impact of COVID-19, moderator Jerome Vaughn, news director of 101.9 WDET, asked panelists to share what they thought would change back in March and how that aligns with what is happening now. Panelists Eric James of Ford Motor Company, Peter Hungerford of ADAC Automotive Inc., and Renee McLeod of Adient, shared that immediate actions were taken within their global companies, having already been impacted in China and other parts of the globe. However, they concur, longer-term impacts are still developing.

In terms of recruiting and retaining employees, the shift to remote work is impacting how and where to secure the right people for the right jobs. With many technology companies already facing a shortage of skilled trades, software engineers, and technology talent, employers are seeking new options.

“I think one of the most interesting learnings from my perspective is our ability to work remotely. I think that there has been a lot of trial and error in terms of trying to figure out how to be more flexible in our work environment, and this was trial by fire. I think that we came out of it doing quite well,” said MacLeod. “It’s really changed our perspective on the purpose of an office, the purpose of our facilities and it’s going to allow us to be a lot more flexible in terms of where our workforce resides, our footprint. And while it opens up a lot of opportunities from a talent perspective, it also introduces some challenges for us as that need to move and to be physically located in one place becomes less and less important.”

What makes this changing work dynamic harder for recruiting is that, even though the process for recruitment itself has not changed much, integration of new employees into work culture is more time consuming. Hungerford believes that there is a part of this new remote work environment that is very attractive, but it needs to be balanced among those that work in industrial manufacturing as well.

“Finding that balance, trying to make sure that new team members are appropriately welcomed and oriented to the culture, that’s the more significant change,” he said.

A new trend emerging among employers to prepare the next-generation workforce is the virtual internship. With a decrease in college enrollment this year, it is especially important not to disrupt the cycle of talent. James spoke to the importance of adapting to a virtual internship program with 600 interns this past summer.

“We made some modifications but we wanted to provide that experience for those young folks we had made a commitment to almost nine months or a year ago. We surveyed them, we talked to our people leaders on how they do that, and I can tell you, there was an air of maybe we should cancel this year,” said James. “It’s like, well folks, we’re going to lose a whole cycle of talent if we do that. That could be a huge gap for us. So we have to figure out how to adapt, how to embrace it, and we said we’re going to do it.”

When it comes to planning in this time of uncertainty, all three panelists agree that this industry faces continuous change and new challenges. Sticking with your core strategy while also being adaptive as you go is key to steering the organization. One thing that must change, though, is the approach to recruiting, starting to engage younger audiences. Hungerford agreed, saying that the industry needs to get more involved in K-14, supporting a variety of career paths, and providing education assistance for associate degrees by being intentional in getting that next generation of talent interested in those fields.

Panel Two: Workforce Development Perspective on Talent Impact

Introducing the educator and workforce development perspective, Vaughn asked the University of Michigan’s Susan Dynarski, Henry Ford College’s Russ Kavalhuna, and the Michigan Mobility Institute’s Dexter Sullivan, to share their initial reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. It took some time in the education sector for the full impact to be realized as educators worked tirelessly from March through July to transition students to a virtual environment. That impact varied among K-12, graduate, and post-graduate students.

Six months in, educators feel that they are still largely in the dark. Metrics previously used to measure the success of education, like attendance and standardized tests, are no longer feasible to track. There is a large divide between virtual working parents and office workers that impacts their remote K-12 students. Now seeing a substantial drop in community college enrollment, Dynarski said this is troubling because community colleges are traditionally where workers go to wait out recessions and build their skills so that once the upturn comes they are ready to join the workforce. Without this interest in community college right now, the talent pipeline is not as strong as it could be.

Given this challenging situation with our schools, Vaughn asked, what role can government or local organizations play in advancing the talent pipeline and solving this problem existed even before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted? Kavalhuna highlighted what is being done well by the State like Future for Frontliners, in an effort to get more citizens to attain postsecondary education credentials, with a target for the state to increase from 45% to 60% attainment.

“The legislature just passed a budget that funded the Governor’s initial tuition-free college programs, so we’re moving in the right direction as a state by investing in our citizens getting into higher education,” he said. “We’ve got a really good infrastructure here for higher education in the state.”

On the contrary, there remains an opportunity for Michigan to be more competitive with other states when it comes to funding. Dynarski agreed, noting that the state does not have a constitutional means by which to make up the shortfalls in education funding.  The federal government needs to do more as well so that colleges can upgrade technology, obtain testing and tracing resources, and re-open in a careful and gradual way.

MICHauto Unveils New Board of Directors, Announces Chair

MICHauto today named the Chair of its Board of Directors, which was formed earlier this year. Lisa Lunsford, co-founder and CEO of Global Strategic Supply Solutions (GS3), was officially instated as Chair of the Board during the Sept. 29 meeting. To enhance MICHauto’s work and role as the state’s only automotive and mobility cluster association, the Board will ensure MICHauto is effective. It will serve as a strategic advisor to the organization in developing, administrating, and evaluating sound operations and policies within the financial guidelines.

Lisa Lunsford, Co-founder and CEO, GS3; Chair, MICHauto Board of Directors

“Lisa is a veteran of the automotive industry and an entrepreneur. She has advised MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber for several years,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “As the Chair of MICHauto’s Board, her leadership will be a key voice to promote, retain, and grow the automotive and mobility industry in Michigan.”

Under Lunsford’s leadership, GS3 Global was ranked among the top 50 largest woman-owned businesses in Michigan by Crain’s Detroit Business in 2017. Lunsford brings over 30 years of experience in the mobility space, and has been serving on the Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors since 2018. As Board Chair, Lunsford will give guidance to the MICHauto Team on critical industry issues and recommend actions to be discussed with the broader Board.

Between now and the end of the calendar year, MICHauto will be working with the Board to refine its strategy within four pillars of engagement: Executive ConveningAdvocacyNext-Generation Mobility, and Talent Attraction and Industry Awareness. This work is more important than ever as the industry moves through the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and into the foreseeable future.

The full Board of Directors includes:

  • Lisa Lunsford, Chair, MICHauto Board of Directors; Co-founder and CEO, GS3
  • Rose Bellanca, President and CEO, Washtenaw Community College
  • Mike Bernas, Vice President, Toyota Motor North America
  • Mary Buchzeiger, President and CEO, Lucerne International
  • Mark Burton, CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
  • Brian Decker, Partner, Automotive Advisory Leader, PwC
  • Jerome Dorlack, Vice President of the Americas, Adient US LLC
  • Carl Esposito, Senior Vice President and President, E-Systems, Lear Corp.
  • Russell Goemaere, President, Grupo North America, Grupo Antolin
  • Richard Haas, President and CEO, Mahindra Automotive North America
  • Dennis Hoeg, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, North America Division, Nexteer Automotive
  • Jonathon Husby, President and CEO, North America, SEG Automotive
  • Maureen Krauss, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Partnership
  • Tom Manganello, Partner, Co-Chair Automotive Industry Group, Warner Norcross + Judd LLP
  • Bob McMahan, President, Kettering University
  • Tim Mroz, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, The Right Place, Inc.
  • Raj Nair, President and Chief Operating Officer, Multimatic
  • Michael Pricer, Managing Director, National Industrial Manufacturing Commercial Lead, KPMG LLP
  • Vicky Rad, Director, Planning and Economic Development, Macomb County
  • Jay Sandhu, CEO, NYX Inc.
  • Sean Silver, Senior Vice President, Michigan Market Executive, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America
  • Bruce Smith, Chairman and CEO, Detroit Manufacturing Systems LLC

The MICHauto Board of Directors will meet quarterly, and the next meeting scheduled for Dec. 15. Special meetings may be added in response to economic or environmental needs.

Data Highlight: Return-to-Work, Child Care Impacts on Productivity

In March of 2020, Gov. Whitmer ordered all schools to conduct the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year virtually due to COVID-19. As new cases in Michigan steadied, the Governor transitioned the majority of Michigan into the “improving” phase of her MI Safe Start Plan.

In this phase, schools are allowed to resume in-person, however, she agreed to allow Michigan’s school districts and charter schools to create their own reopening plans, giving schools the option to open in-person, virtually, or with a hybrid model. While this sparked a lot of questions and concerns for the students’ learning, employers had just as many questions and concerns. What does this mean for their employees? How will this impact productivity? How should they adjust to their employees’ new work-from-home situation and parental demands?

The Detroit Regional Chamber developed a K-12 tracker to monitor the status of school openings in Southeast Michigan. In addition, they surveyed businesses on employee concerns and plans for mitigating child-care challenges. With 58% of schools starting online this fall and 75% of businesses workforce shifting to remote work, there are large concerns that employees will not fully return to work due to child care issues. However, a majority of employers responded that their organization is aware of the needs of employees with children. Seventy-one percent of employers surveyed have provided flexible working hours to support employees with children, and 82% have provided work from home options.

View the complete data to see how employers are impacted by and reacting to these evolving workplace concerns.


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