Winners 2023

Diversity, equality and inclusion 2023

TWO YEARS AGO, Whyld was an HR specialist within employee relations at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK based at the company’s plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, but she has since been promoted to head the employee relations team. Despite her short experience of leadership, she is already being prepared for promotion to a senior management role, according to nominator Dan Jones, senior manager for HR. Achievements include boosting female representation from 3% to 15% in production, from zero to half in engineering and from zero to 30% in apprenticeships. She also won plaudits from women for introducing free sanitary products. “Emma is a role model to both women and men because of her relentless efforts to develop confidence and self-belief,” Jones wrote in Whyld’s nomination.

Diversity, equality and inclusion 2023 nominees

Kirsten Abernethy, CX data steward, Ford Motor Company

ABERNETHY’S ‘DAY JOB’ is working to unlock the benefits of Ford’s connected vehicles. However, she appears in this category for her work in helping and inspiring colleagues to improve their working lives, as well as looking at how Ford’s stated environmental aims can be better met. She leads networking events to, in her own words, “enable opportunities otherwise missing in hybrid working”. She reinvigorated the company’s ‘Bring your child to work’ day as a springboard to promote STEM activities and set up an employee sustainability group. She said her inspiration came from the “activist spirit of co-workers” when she was a research engineer for Ford in San Francisco.

Kate Clay, Human resources director, eStar

CLAY CAME TO this north-west dealership group focusing on Mercedes vans and trucks in 2021 as head of HR and has quickly been promoted to director, with a seat on the board. She “inherited a broken business with no policies, structure, culture or benefits”, according to her nomination, but she has since transformed it for employees. Her actions have included creating a full suite of benefits, increasing annual leave, introducing sick pay and bringing in paid compassion leave. She has also introduced “sector-leading” maternity pay to help recruit more women.

Krishani Ranaweera, Head of employee experience, Lotus Cars

RANAWEERA ARRIVED AT Lotus in 2021 as engagement and culture lead to establish a more inclusive culture within the company after a spell working in the NHS. Since then, she has been promoted to head of employee experience and with a limited budget has built Us Lot, an initiative within the brand designed to unite the workforce and help it to become more inclusive and improve equality. Lotus has since become a founding signatory on the UK Automotive Diversity and Inclusion Charter, while the 2022 Gender Pay Gap report shows that the pay discrepancy is at its lowest since reporting began.

Sophie Cordice

CORDICE’S PRIMARY JOB is to create new sales opportunities within BMW’s finance arm. However, she also finds the time to co-chair the Culture, Ethnicity and Faith network at the BMW Group UK campus at Farnborough, Hampshire. Her goal is to increase representation from different ethnic groups at BMW and she has been supporting local schools with careers programmes to encourage diversity in the next generation of workers at the company. Cordice has also recently graduated from the BMW Building Future Leaders programme.

Sian Robinson, Dealer partner manager, Motability Operations

MOTABILITY OPERATIONS IS the company that matches cars with 650,000 disabled customers on the Motability scheme. Robinson joined in 2019 from dealer group Perrys as a dealer development manager before winning a promotion in 2021 to her current role, where she liaises with the heads of dealer groups to make Motability more accessible. She also promotes Quiet Hours to dealerships to help customers with cognitive conditions and has helped craft a scheme to better support employees who have lost a baby.

Leonie Tapley, Content, events and partnership manager, Nissan

A KEY MOMENT for Tapley came in 2013, early in her Nissan marketing career, when she worked with disabled athlete Richard Whitehead and ParalympicsGB. “I decided I wanted my marketing career to have more purpose,” she wrote for her nomination, submitted by Nic Thomas, marketing director for Nissan GB. In her current role, she has been responsible for the launch of the Nissan Possibilities Project, which supports people from under-represented groups, especially disability and LGBTQ+ communities, and uses sport as a springboard.