Chief Enthusiasm Officer Kenya Rutland on how to build diversity and inclusion in your dealership

"We don't get better if we don't have conflict around ideas, perspectives, values or beliefs," says Kenya Rutland.

After the nation’s civil unrest last summer, you may have noticed many companies making the decision to evaluate and adopt a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Well, KJR Consulting has been behind the strategy for many large companies like Coca-Cola and Asbury Automotive Group. On this episode of Diversity in Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome the Principal and Chief Enthusiasm Officer at KJR Consulting, Kenya Rutland, to discuss training, coaching, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in our industry. 

It’s certainly been a sense of awakening at an individual, leadership, and organizational level says Rutland. One of the great things, Rutland says that his team does is, they pause and listen. You want people to engage in the discussion as opposed to disengaging.

Related: Asbury Auto’s Jed Milstein and Dan Clara discuss new diversity and inclusion initiative

Rutland says, they are co-creators and they like to design with you. The conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion looks different depending on where you are in the country and the world. He says that gives them the opportunity to get more diversity and perspective brought into the discussion.


We don’t get better if we don’t have conflict around ideas, perspectives, values or beliefs says, Rutland. Many may sell cars the same way but those organizations that are going to make the client experience better are going to get returning customers. He says this requires you to think about the buyer. There are many ways that we can bring new ideas to get this influx of talent and great thinking. Rutland believes that’s what’s going to be something that helps us dramatically in this space.

The first thing companies can do is a simple survey. Rutland says this helps get a perspective of what’s going on within your company. You can then validate those questions through focus groups.  When staff sees leadership vulnerability, it allows them to share exactly how they feel. Rutland encourages people to not listen from a deficit mindset.

Rutland says it’s not just about diversity but you should also be practicing inclusion, which is the goal of getting people to feel valued, respected, and heard. He says the other important part is equity and sharing that power. It’s not just about doing the right thing, but it’s a monetary decision as well.

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