A new organization aims to become a force for racial equity by boosting the representation of Black employees throughout every segment of Canada’s auto sector.
The not-for-profit initiative, called Accelerate Auto, comprises Black employees from all corners of automotive, said Emiliano Void, the group’s chair and one of 13 founding members.
“It gives the industry as a whole a vehicle to get on board with us to help champion the change,” said Void, also national operations manager at Cox Automotive Canada. “Not from the perspective of somebody who has not lived this experience or this hardship, not from somebody that’s outside of the Black community, but [from] within the most comprehensive representation of the Black perspective and experience in the automotive space.”
The founding members represent four automakers, two dealership groups, two industry associations and four people representing vendors or industry support.
The group evolved from an internal program at Cox Automotive Canada called the Black Employee Network, Void told Automotive News Canada. That led to discussions among his peers that demonstrated a need for an organized, industrywide initiative.
“We started doing outreach to Black professionals that we had direct connections with, and immediately we were able to grow a working collaborative of Black professionals,” Void said.
FEW BLACK LEADERS
According to the 2016 census, 1,198,540 Canadians identified themselves as being Black, representing 3.5 per cent of the population. A 2020 study by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute found, however, that among 1,639 members of corporate boards of directors across Canada, only 13 (0.8 per cent) were Black.
In Toronto, the gap is even wider: Although 7.5 per cent of the city’s population is Black, only 0.3 per cent of corporate board members based in Toronto are Black.