Exclusive: Bentley boss says UK car industry needs to improve diversity

Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark thinks the UK car industry “needs to seek out minorities and women”

The UK car industry must do a better job of selling itself to wider society if it is to attract more women and people from minority backgrounds, says a top exec.

Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark, who heads our annual list of the top 50 Britons in the global car industry, says that making people aware of the diverse needs and strengths of the automotive sector will help as firms actively pursue a more representative workforce. The Crewe brand announced a five-point programme in May focusing on outreach, recruitment, succession planning, culture and development.

  • The Brit List 2021: UK’s top car industry execs named

The Brit List panel, which includes Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler, has once again highlighted the shortage of women in the line-up, along with poor representation of BAME executives.

“We’ve got to make it good for everybody,” Hallmark told Auto Express. “Take down the barriers. It doesn’t matter your colour, creed or sexual orientation; if you’re good, you’re in. We’ll actually go and knock on the doors of universities that over-index on BAME candidates. We’ll go and headhunt more female candidates as a target, not to necessarily employ them – but instead of having one out of 10 in the mix, we’ll have five out of 10.

“That means we’ll still employ the white, working-class lad from Crewe who is the best qualified, if they’re the best candidate, but if we don’t see the other five candidates, we’ll never know. So yes, in the short term we’ll have to get more than our fair share of the limited supply that’s out there.”

Hallmark says he and Bentley will feed back progress to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders and the industry. But in the meantime, he says sessions at universities have persuaded him that the car business can do a better job of attracting people from across backgrounds.

“As an industry, we don’t do enough to talk about what’s great, and the transformational nature of what we’re doing,” he said. “In the past, the only connection from the car to the outside world were the tyres and a radio aerial. Now you’ve got everything and it becomes part of the system; it can help with traffic management, energy management, mobility assistance.

“The positive aspects are massive, and there’s no reason why the UK can’t be leading this.”

How the industry needs to change

Moyosola Fujamade works as contract hire relationships manager for Kia in the UK. Following the publication of last year’s Brit List, she contacted Auto Express to open a discussion about the approach the car industry needs to take to improve diversity. Her feature on the subject will be published in Auto Express in a few weeks, but here she gives her reaction to this year’s Brit List.

“I was once told that persistence and patience would be the two things that would see me through my career, and while I must agree in part, I do also believe in knocking down doors every now and again. Breaking down barriers for me has been in its simplest form about not being afraid to speak out. Also, having a mentor has been a fantastic developmental tool for me.

“So what needs to happen for the UK car industry to gain more diversity? Ultimately, there are many things that can be done.

“Targeted mentorship programmes can aid those from diverse backgrounds into growing their leadership network and ultimately opening doors that often are more difficult for them to access due to systemic inequalities.

“Recruitment and promotion biases should also be eliminated, as studies show that hiring processes are full of bias and unfairness. What is the industry doing to go against the grain?

“This is a conversation that is only just beginning, so watch this space.”

Click here for our list of the top 50 British execs….

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