Interview with Sarah Charlesworth, Group Head of Inclusion & Diversity
Why did you join Inchcape?
I was attracted to Inchcape’s ambitious growth plans when I joined in July 2021 but more importantly, I loved how passionate they were to accelerate their Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) journey. It’s easy for a business to continue the status quo and not challenge everyday practices.
This was a brand new role and I admired the way Inchcape sought out ways they can improve on diverse representation and inclusive culture, not because it was a trend, but because they wanted to create lasting positive change in the business and beyond.
Why did you choose a career in I&D?
I had no idea there were careers in I&D when I was younger. Growing up I volunteered at a Down Syndrome Centre to support a close friend’s family and I saw the true meaning of equity where everyone receives the support they need. This left a huge impression on me and I can see how it’s certainly influenced my decisions. At university I became involved in the student movement and joined groups dedicated to women’s liberation and LGBT+ equality. Looking back, it’s obvious to see I was curious about injustice, fairness and inclusion and it’s easy to see how those passions and choices have shaped my career.
What does I&D mean for Inchcape?
At Inchcape we put Inclusion first – that’s why we say ‘I&D’ and not ‘D&I’ here. We know that Inclusion is paramount and that needs to be at the heart of everything we do. Unless our people feel included, valued and themselves here then we cannot begin to improve diversity.
Why does I&D matter at Inchcape?
I&D is critical to our business strategy, Accelerate. It is clear how it’s linked to our future success because we need the very best people in our company to deliver our ambitious and innovative growth strategy. We want to unleash diversity of thought in all our teams and we are only able to achieve this if everyone can participate and we reflect all dimensions of diversity in everything we do.
Can you explain more about your role and Inchcape’s I&D priorities for 2022?
My role is to create, implement and embed effective I&D strategies across our business. I spent time when I first joined Inchcape having conversations with colleagues across all our markets to understand what I&D means at Inchcape and what more we should do to progress I&D. As a result, we’ve created our I&D Framework which guides our approach. Priorities for 2022 include reviewing the architecture of some of our practices, such as our systems and recruitment processes, to ensure they are inclusive and open to all our world’s communities. We are focused on enabling all our markets to raise awareness and develop their understanding of I&D.
What are the I&D challenges and opportunities for Inchcape?
Within automotive, as well as other sectors, our biggest challenge is the perceived and real experiences of the industry from a customer and employee perspective. That sounds obvious, but it has not been sufficiently and consistently challenged by any company… yet.
Our biggest opportunities are demystifying the industry and demonstrating that we are a company that everyone can thrive in. We have some fantastic global I&D campaigns coming up this year that will shine a spotlight on our values, a range of role models in the business and how we’re becoming more inclusive where everyone is empowered to succeed.