The automotive industry has historically struggled with the rise of diversity and inclusion. But in recent years, there has been a push for greater diversity. Organizations like the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, NAMAD, have helped to increase the number of minorities owned dealerships. So, on today’s Inside Automotive, Damon Lester, Interim president of NAMAD, is providing us with an update on where things stand, and the relationship OEMs have with minority dealers.
Being one with many hats: president, interim president, vice chairman, and dealer principal allows Lester to assist his constituents better. He states, “It has helped me be able to see the other side of the fence on a day-to-day operation,” and it aided him in bridging the gap that he was deficient in before.
It’s important to note that Nissan has stepped up its game regarding diversity and inclusion. Lester reports, “Over the last few years, Nissan has shown year-over-year growth. And this year, they’re in the top five amongst the Stellantis and the General Motors of the world.” Which is attributed to the leadership there and their contribution to diversity. He adds, “They wanted to increase the inclusion and diversify the minority networks, so they’ve been doing great.”
Lester highlights, “In nearly all categories year-over-year for 2022 versus 21, a net of approximately 110 African American and Native American agencies had excelled in the industry in partnership with NAMAD.” He adds, “The most consistent has been in General Motors holdings. That has never gone away, even through post-bankruptcy, but Toyota has a great financing mechanism as well.”
"Other manufacturers are starting to implement inclusion and diversity within companies." — Damon Lester
However, the industry as a whole has seen ongoing turbulence and economic challenges. Lester clarifies that, compared to last year, they are doing reasonably well. They have been confronted with “these kinds of opportunities and challenges, and the roller-coaster effect that used vehicle prices have had.” There are also more EVs on his lot, so he wants to rail down on the administration now that he’s back as interim president.