Diversity is a business viability issue, the president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers told those who attended her workshop at the NADA convention.
Sheila Vaden-Williams said about 45 people heard her presentations. 'More people attended than I expected, and those who did were passionate about diversity,' she said. 'Make no mistake, we still have a lot of work to do in regard to race and gender in the auto industry.'
Vaden-Williams, a Harvard law school graduate, presented a convincing case for an automaker and its dealers to institute a diversity initiative.
She presented an array of demographic trends, both historic and forward-looking, that demonstrated that the current majority - white men and women - will become the minority in the future. People of color will gain the majority, she said.
Just as important, the growth in disposable income of current minorities is increasing far faster than that of whites, making them a buying group who can no longer be ignored. Minority disposable income will amount to $1.1 trillion in the next decade, much of which is spent on cars and trucks.
In addition to initiating a diversity program to attract customers, manufacturers and dealers need a diversity program to keep and attract talented employees in this time of a critical labor shortage.
'The best talent has many choices of where to work. They will select a place where they are sure they will be rewarded for their contributions only,' she said.
She warned dealers that diversity is not just a manufacturer issue. She suggested if a minority group launched a boycott against a manufacturer, as has been the case with Mitsubishi, dealers also will feel the effects.