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Driving Pride: LGBTQ+ inclusion within the automotive industry — Cheryl Thompson

The month of June is recognized as Pride Month, a celebration and recognition of the LGBTQ+ community. In recent years, there has been growth in acknowledging the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in retail automotive, but there is still much more that can be done. Joining us on CBT Now is Cheryl Thompson, the Founder, and CEO of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion, and Advancement.

Diversifying Organizations

According to Thompson, “There is not one silver bullet; there are several things that organizations could do the implement diversity into their dealerships. But, the primary element to utilize is listening. Listen to your employees. Listen to your customers. “And when we do that, we witness that each are diverse. Therefore, we need to really lean into that.”

The LGBTQ+ community has a lot of buying power, around $3 trillion. Therefore, when looking at the generations, the industry is ignoring a huge percentage of the population. Thompson asserts, “The boomers, for example, the people who would have identified as a part of the LGBTQ+ community would have accounted for roughly 2.6%.” Fast forward to Generation Z, which accounts for 20%. The automotive industry has always been exclusive. Thompson claims, “It’s like you have to be born into it.” However, things are quickly shifting in favor of electric vehicles (EVs), shared, and linked vehicles. Therefore, it is not very diversified to look at the talent the sector is attracting to bring sales to the table. 

Best practices

Thompson explains, “Leaders need to sit down with their team and ask questions to fall on the same accord. Questions such as, who are we?, who do we want to be?, what are our values?, what is our purpose?, and do we make anyone from the LGBTQ+ community feel welcome? These questions are imperative since they align with the company and showcase your support. Thompson said, “Maybe it’s time to assemble an LGBTQ+ focus group. Because the last thing you want to do is assume. Never assume! Ask questions, whether it be from your clients or your staff, and get them included.” 

Ultimately, diversity is at large. But, having a strong foundation in place first is vital before rushing to display your pride flag. For example, Target faced the consequences from both sides. But, Thompson says, “You want to do the research and include the community above all else.”

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Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. She is a recent honors cum laude graduate with a BFA in Mass Media from Valdosta State University. Jaelyn is an enthusiastic creator with more than four years of experience in corporate communications, editing, broadcasting, and writing. Her articles in The Spectator, her hometown newspaper, changed how people perceive virtual reality. She connects her readers to the facts while providing them a voice to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the digital world.

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