DETROIT — "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." — Buckminster Fuller
Fuller's quote was recited by Cheryl Thompson, founder and CEO of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement, during the organization's Rev Up 2030 summit here this month at Wayne State University.
As the editor who has overseen Automotive News' diversity, equity and inclusion coverage during the past two years, this quote resonated with me. It is easy to fall into the trap of arguing with those who dismiss company DE&I initiatives as "woke nonsense" and "unfair," despite a mountain of rigorous, credible research that shows the positive business outcomes of such policies. The anti-DE&I sentiment in emails sent to us criticizing our coverage, as well as on social media and in state political offices, can be discouraging.
The unfortunate reality is that no amount of objective reporting, calm reasoning or impassioned counterarguments will change the minds of those who refuse to acknowledge DE&I's role as a competitive advantage in today's business environ-ment. Instead of arguing with the detractors, proponents of DE&I should divert that energy toward building a community with allies.
Rev Up 2030 was a welcome reminder that many allies are out there. More than 200 of them were gathered in a ballroom during the all-day program, which featured a workshop on inclusive hiring; panels on employee resource groups, talent and equity in mobility, inclusive leadership and supplier diversity; and a discussion among chief diversity officers. The event had nearly two dozen automaker, supplier, industry group and economic group sponsors.
"Let's focus on what it is we want," Thompson, a veteran of Ford Motor Co. and American Axle, told the audience. "It's no secret that we're in this time of resistance and backlash to DEI."