Case Study

Industry 4.0: Modernizing Our Workforce for Competitive Advantage

The Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement (CADIA)
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According to an MIT Media Lab study, facial recognition software is correct 99 percent of the time for white males; but only 65 percent of the time when it comes to the faces of darker-skinned women. It’s not surprising to learn the data set used to assess its performance was more than 77 percent male and more than 83 percent white. Part of the challenge, scientists say, is that there is so little diversity within the AI community. These cohorts, despite their innovation and ingenuity, had blind spots, no pun intended, when it came to making the technology work for women and for people of color.

Those disparities can sometimes be a matter of life or death: One recent study of the computer vision systems that enable self-driving cars to “see” the road shows they have a harder time detecting pedestrians with darker skin tones.

These examples underscore the need for diverse teams to work together to bring new technological solutions to fruition as we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What other “blind spots” will we encounter if we don’t look at problems from all angles?

For the most part, companies have recognized that diversity and inclusion is not just a nice to have HR policy, but a core business strategy. Emerging trends in technology, globalization, consumer and talent demographics have made it increasingly difficult to find and retain skilled high-performing talent to meet the technology challenges of tomorrow.

In Michigan, the working population is shrinking. 32% of Southeast Michigan’s manufacturing industry workforce is 55 or older and the number of high school graduates will decrease by 29% by 2028.

Employee expectations are changing, and it is clear diversity is not sustainable without inclusion. 47% of millennials look for diversity and inclusion when sizing up future employers. Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today and will jump to 75% of the workforce by 2025. Over 50% of our next generation – “Zillennials” – hail from a minority race or ethnic group.

In the automotive industry, the major auto manufacturers or OEMs have had a focus on diversity and inclusion for some time. Some efforts have been successful in terms of equity in leadership, and others less so. Many of the tier companies that support the OEMs are farther behind and haven’t been able to dedicate the appropriate resources to developing and executing diversity and inclusion programs.

Leaders throughout all industries know they will need a diverse workforce if they want access to the best talent, and to leverage diverse teams that can produce the best technology solutions. These leaders have moved from the “why” to the “how.”

In response, some companies have given this responsibility to existing functions such as talent acquisition, general human resources, marketing, communications, or legal. It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start along the diversity and inclusion journey along with managing other responsibilities.


The Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement (CADIA) created a Roundtable Series to provide a consistent focus and foster collaboration within the industry in terms of starting and revving up their diversity and inclusion journey. The CADIA Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable Series is a forum for the open exchange of information and best practices for diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry for automotive OEM and supplier companies, as well as the aftermarket and dealer industries.


Roundtable meetings are held quarterly at rotating locations in the Metro Detroit area. CADIA staff work with roundtable co-chairs to create meeting agendas and content providing thought leadership on diversity and inclusion as well as practical take-aways for members. The CADIA Antitrust statement is followed closely, and each meeting is memorialized in a set of meeting proceedings that is shared with all members. A focus of each meeting is to facilitate dialogue among members on the issues that are most important to them and their respective companies. Some of those topics include:

  • Linking cultural transformation to the bottom line
  • Managing reluctance among men to mentor women because of “#metoo”
  • How to grow and keep diverse talent at the executive level
  • Inclusive hiring best practices
  • How to move away from perception of diversity as “old school quotas”
  • How companies are addressing civility in the workplace
  • Hiring more diverse candidates in engineering
  • Ensuring that all new hires are valued, respected and heard
  • Create a multi-year solid strategy with goals, accountability and ownership

Fifteen companies have joined including OEMs, Tier 1s and new mobility. An initial survey captured each company’s rank in a five-phase maturity model. 23% reported being at level 3, 38.5% reported level 2 and 38.5% reported level 1. CADIA is able to provide an unbiased view and tailor resources and solutions based on where each company is in the five-phase maturity model.

Early results are positive. Feedback has included appreciation for the opportunity to come together with other members from the industry to share best practices, struggles and strategies/tips to overcome them. Participants also find it valuable to be able to share information and ask for support in between meetings.

One company representative reported “I have been to two meetings so far and find them extremely valuable. The D&I roundtable is giving us the chance to learn from other similar organizations as to how they have structured it, so we don’t re-invent the wheel.

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