July 24, 2021

Diversity and inclusion across auto lending

What does diversity and inclusion mean at some of the nation’s largest auto lenders?

From sports analogies to internal definitions, car finance leaders discuss the importance of drawing on talent from different pools, and creating good tension and discussion that better serves auto finance customers and dealership partners.

“Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice at the table. Equity is having equal access to the table. Unconscious bias is why some voices are heard more than others at the table. Mitigating bias is more than a moral imperative — it lifts performance. Diversity improves creativity, lessens groupthink and raises team intelligence by raising social intelligence.”

— Craig Carrington, president of Ford Credit International Markets and co-chair of the Ford Diversity and Inclusion Council

“I love the NFL’s definition: Diversity is who’s on the team, and inclusion is who gets to play. For us, diversity is who works at the company and inclusion is who gets the opportunity. Equity goes into so much more than that. Who has a voice? Who’s being paid?

“Our work force should look like the customers that we serve and our leadership should look like the work force that we lead. If you lack that diversity, what you’re saying and what you’re creating at the organization becomes one dimensional.”

— Shunda Robinson, global vice president, diversity and inclusion at GM Financial

“I define it as sustainable representation and inclusion. It’s incredibly important that when organizations think about representation specifically, that they not only look at the percentages where there’s gender or ethnic diversity, or so on, but the sustainability of it across the entire organization — from entry-level jobs to mid-level jobs to senior-level jobs. Can you see meaningful movement from lower levels in the organization where employees are able to come in entry-level law or roles, reskill and advance and get better? Inclusion is the environment that we intentionally create that everybody feels that they are a part.”

— Peter Muriungi, Chase Auto CEO

“When you look at organizations that have a bigger presence of women within their leadership ranks, they outperform their peer groups 20 to 25 percent. Similarly, with people of color, they tend to outperform those groups that don’t have as much diversity by 30 percent. What tends to happen in homogeneous groups is you don’t get a lot of challenge. You don’t get a lot of innovation because you tend to go with the first answer, because everyone thinks it’s good. That might be the misnomer about diversity is that everyone gets along, and that’s why it works. It’s really that natural friction, that natural opposition that happens when difference meets itself is where all the innovation happens. When organizations can harness and understand the value of those differences … that’s when success happens.”

— Reggie Willis, chief diversity officer at Ally Financial

“Diversity is the recognition of really any collective mixture of individual differences, but also similarities. We define inclusion as an active and very intentional focus on creating the right conditions that promote collaboration among a diverse group, and really helping to ensure all of our employees feel valued and included.”

— Charita Henderson, vice president of leadership development at Exeter Finance