By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Contributing Writer
Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai are the latest automakers to respond to the recently released Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project, which issued its annual diversity scorecard earlier this month.
While Ford and General Motors scored high on the scorecard which provides consumers, investors and industry experts a snapshot of each automotive manufacturer’s ability to build and sustain ethnic diversity as a driver of marketplace competitiveness, other companies needed to step up their proverbial game.
“I think you’ll see that we are driven to provide a culture of inclusion in all our practices at Nissan and we will continue those efforts,” said Josh Clifton, senior manager for communications at Nissan North America, Inc. “We realize that we cannot continue our growth without leveraging our diversity. Our goal is to embrace partnerships in key functional areas of our business, including: dealer ownership, supplier relationships, marketing, advertising, philanthropy and human resources.”
A spokesman for Hyundai said the company “will continue to be inclusive.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson, the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition said that the only way to achieve a meaningful return on investment for the dollars spent by African-Americans with auto companies is to measure progress on fair trade.
Those who received a green certification on the scorecard reflects best practices for ethnic diversity while those with a yellow mark showed some indication of diversity evident goals, initiatives and accountability, according to the ranking system.
Red indicated that diversity initiatives and investments were non-existent, not disclosed or that the company did not provide enough relevant information for scoring and they didn’t submit a completed survey.
The release of the diversity scorecard highlighted the Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit in Detroit where auto executives, suppliers, dealers and government officials gathered to discuss ways to strengthen and create opportunities in the industry for minorities.
“Minority companies need a short-term plan for survival and a long-term critical path to success with measurable goals, targets and timetables,” Jackson said.
Of the 12 automotive companies to participate in the scorecard, Ford Motor Co. received the top ratings, including green marks in five of six categories while General Motors also scored well.
BMW and Mercedes Benz were the only companies to receive red indicators in each of the categories which included employment, advertising, marketing, procurement, minority dealer development and philanthropy.
Toyota received green marks for employment and procurement and yellow for advertising and marketing.
“To grow sustainably as a global company, Toyota has been and remains firmly committed to our belief of putting the right people in the right places and working with the right partners, regardless of nationality, gender, age, and so forth,” company spokesman Aaron S. Fowles said. “Our relationship with Rainbow PUSH has led to recognition among our peers and customers, who also value our focus and commitment on diversity and inclusion. We will continue to work with similar-minded organizations to continually improve our engagement with suppliers, dealers, customers and society in general.”
Nissan officials also rattled off a list of accomplishments that show their commitment to diversity including acknowledgement from “Diversity Inc.” magazine as a Top 25 Noteworthy Company for the second straight year.
Also, Nissan earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for the second year in a row and, in 2013; Nissan was among the fastest risers in the history of the index with a 70-point increase in just two years.
Clifton also cited Nissan’s philanthropic efforts, including the Nissan Foundation which was created in 1992 as a thoughtful response to a societal need, he said.
Following the civil unrest that occurred in Los Angeles that year notably marked by the Rodney King riots, Nissan established the Foundation with a $5 million endowment to foster a greater appreciation for cultural diversity and educational programs that support it.
“The mission of the Nissan Foundation continues to be to support educational programs that foster a greater appreciation and understanding of America’s diverse cultural heritage,” Clifton said. “After more than two decades of existence, the Nissan Foundation has contributed nearly $11 million to more than 100 U.S. nonprofits.”
Rainbow/PUSH officials said Jackson and Executive Director Glenda Gill will meet with automakers to discuss the results of the survey and to develop a “road map for progress in diversity and inclusion.”