Chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer, Group 1 Automotive
Edward McKissic says DE&I is a collective priority at Group 1 Automotive because it’s the right thing to do and it helps the dealership group achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
It’s also a sign of respect, which is a Group 1 key value, he said.
“People don’t think about diversity, equity and inclusion going hand-in-hand with respect, but they do,” said McKissic, chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer at Group 1. “The way we hire people, the way we retain people, and the way we grow and develop people goes back to respectfulness.”
A Group 1 dealership where DE&I is prominently displayed is Sterling McCall Toyota in Houston.
More than 15 different languages native to countries such as Pakistan, Brazil, Greece, India, China and Honduras are spoken among the dealership’s 250 employees, McKissic said.
“People love that about that dealership,” McKissic said. “It helps us draw and retain our customers because they like seeing people like themselves. When you think about employees promoting our country, when you think about shareholder value, it fits into our environmental, social and governance strategy.”
As of 2021, Group 1 had 13,711 employees, of which 10,813 were employed in the U.S. and 2,898 in the U.K.
As part of its DE&I strategy, Group 1 examines its hiring and promoting processes, policies, procedures and programs to weed out unintended biases.
So this year, the automotive group identified 30 employees who are members of diversity groups that are underrepresented within its ranks and who have the potential to become dealership general managers within the next one to three years, McKissic said.
These individuals hold dealership management positions and are assessed on leadership competencies such as being team and results oriented, their collaboration skills and knowing their customers.
Taking it a step further, McKissic developed a sponsorship program under which Group 1 vice presidents are assigned to each of the seven women in the group of 30 managers to mentor and make sure they are on a path within the dealership group to help them reach their goals and potential.
“When you create a space and a place to benefit from our differences, we’re going to be stronger and more resilient and create a more engaged work force,” McKissic said.
“In turn, we’re not only going to be able to retain talent, but to attract talent.”
— Arlena Sawyers