COVID-19 Update: One Dealer Offers Diversity Internships

By Desiree Homer

Now Is the Time to Incorporate Diversity & Inclusion Measures

Dealerships are looking internally at their process regarding diversity and inclusion. Some may already have robust programs and efforts in place to ensure minority hiring best practices and community support. But for many, these conversations are new as a result of the recent protests and public outcry for change. Damon Lester, the President of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD), sat down with Dealer News Today for a podcast conversation about including people of color among the ranks. “Look at your leadership, and if you don’t have a person of color around the table, you have an issue,” Lester said. Identifying a diversity issue within your organization is only half the battle. Implementing action is the only way to affect substantial change.

One Dealer Offers Minority-Focused Internships

Speaking out about social injustice is a significant first step. But for Todd Copeland of the Copeland Auto Group, action was the order of the day. His dealership launched a diversity internship program that offers paid internships for minority youth in the area. The program is designed to provide hands-on job skills for young workers and provides leadership opportunities to introduce more minority employees to the auto industry. These paid internships are essential, according to Copeland. He readily admits that while he may have grown up in a position of privilege, he continues to abide by a moral code of ethics that inspires him to make sure his efforts as a business leader, involve the minority communities in his market.

Diversity Among the Ranks

As dealers put the magnifying glass to their current hiring and onboarding processes, some are finding their strategies may have been unintentionally biased. Carving out the required skills, education, and experience for each role within the organization is just the beginning. Quality candidates may be missed because of strict hiring benchmarks. Consider allowing your hiring managers to have some flexibility in identifying new talent. Don’t limit your openings to online job boards. Consider reaching out to your local labor offices or workforce development facilities to recruit new employees. Places of worship are often great potential hiring resources as well, as they typically offer assistance to new area residents or disenfranchised individuals looking for work.

Internal Structure for Inclusion & Development

Diversity isn’t just about hiring minority staff members. Consider taking a harder look at your internal strategies for communication, offering ongoing training, and leadership opportunities. Making sure you have equal paths to success for everyone working within your organization is key. Look for ways to remove roadblocks to learning, skill development, and communication standards for calling out injustices that may occur. This may require a complete rewrite of your policies or a more precise definition of those policies. Work with your Human Resources managers to help lay in actionable steps to diversity and inclusion at every level of your dealership operations.

If you aren’t sure how inclusive or diverse your dealership is, now is the time to take action. Regardless of where your politics lie or how you feel personally about the current protesting environments, diversity policies are just good business.