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Diversity and Inclusion: An Industry Imperative

Diversity and inclusion is a top industry priority now more than ever. A panel moderated by “Autoline” host John McElroy and featuring Margaret Baxter, executive director of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement (CADIA); Jatinder-Bir “Jay” Sandhu, CEO of NYX, LLC; and Kristen Tabar, group vice president of vehicle development and engineering at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development, identified best practices for satisfying the indisputable need for a stronger culture of inclusion.

The speakers’ collective sentiment on D&I was that it takes continuous effort at all levels of an organization – institutional to interpersonal implementation. While incremental action has proven effective for many teams, an authentic, applicable D&I culture starts at the top with leadership.  

“It doesn’t matter where you start. Just get going,” said Baxter. “You have to create a safe space for people to have these conversations and let people ask the difficult questions.”  

With a highly diverse workforce, NYX, LLC finds success in embracing and accommodating differences. Its facilities keep libraries of multi-lingual project instructions, new employees are partnered with a buddy from a similar cultural background to get acclimated, and the company invests in on-site ELS training before and after shifts.  

“It’s in our DNA that we’re going to look at different cultures and accept them,” said Sandhu.  

The panelists also emphasized the inherent business benefits of strong D&I practices. Staying mindful of the audiences being served will encourage diversity in personnel and ideas to reflect those needs and generate better results.  

“We really believe that innovation comes from this diversity of thought and that inclusiveness of hearing everyone’s voice, including all of our customers,” said Tabar.  

Finally, the group agreed that a thriving culture of D&I is rooted in listening – both accepting different perspectives from outside of the organization and incorporating internal feedback for process improvement.   

Thanks to Toyota for sponsoring this session.