Written by Kay Layne for Canadian Auto Dealer – See full published article here
After two years of online events, the packed TalkAUTO event at the Universal Event Space venue in Vaughan proved that the industry was ready to meet in person again.
The conference featured an impressive lineup of guest speakers ready to take on this year’s theme of ’An Industry in Transition.’ They each shared their perspectives on subjects like the future of the global market, the growth projections for electric versus internal combustion engine vehicles, supply shortages, redesigning the customer journey, and creating a more inclusive and diverse automotive industry.
As an automotive journalist, I have been to other Canadian Black Book and automotive events like this through the years. As the conference rolled on, a slight change could be observed around the room.
From the attendees in the seats to the speakers on the stage, diversity and inclusion played a significant role at the event. Canadian Black Book, the event’s organizer, made sure there were plenty of women and people of colour.
There are usually some women at events like this, many occupying marketing and communication roles.
But today, the women were stepping on stage and sharing their industry knowledge. During a panel discussing changes to the customer journey, Alan H. Bird of taq Automotive Intelligence pointed out that he was the only gentleman on the stage. His four fellow female panellists were Sarah Hindle (Lithia Motors), Stephanie Lamb (CIBC), Rachele Fiore (Bond Brand Loyalty) and Maggie Mo (Clutch Canada).
As the day progressed, various speakers continued to provide their findings on what is to come as they dove into the future of global economic and automotive markets. They also discussed topics like diversity and inclusion.
Now while I am accustomed to being the “one of the only chips in the cookie” at industry events like this, you can imagine my joy when Accelerate Auto took to the stage.
Accelerate Auto is a coalition of Black professionals and allies working together to bring about a much-needed change in the automotive workforce. What I found impressive was that they demonstrated not only the challenges the industry faced, but more importantly, they came with answers to the problem.
Founding members Christopher Nabeta and moderator Todd Philips, Senior Editor of Canadian auto dealer, shared solutions to reduce diversity gaps in the industry so that it is more representative of its clientele.
Yolanda Biswah, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Canadian Black Book made it clear in her opening statement that what I observed was very deliberate. She stated that as a Black woman executive in the automotive industry, she wanted to create a smooth inclusive road for those coming up behind her. If this event was any indication, she is well on her way.