The importance of diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry

From day one, Lucerne International CEO Mary Buchzeiger has made diversity, equity and inclusion efforts a top priority for the company.

When she took over as CEO in 2008, she recognized immediately how the workforce resembled the demographics of her father, an older white man, and knew changes had to be made to improve the diversity of the company.

“Being a woman, and fighting through what I had to fight through to get where I am, was a difficult road,” she said. “Which is why diversity and inclusion has always been a major part of my career.”

Buchzeiger believed it was crucial to diversify the company, including creating a leadership team that better represents an inclusive culture. To Buchzeiger, diversity must be reflected at all levels of a company — from its board to its entry level employees.

“A true diverse workforce creates this expansive knowledge base that pulls from a variety of backgrounds,” she said. “Increasing diversity is both socially responsible and good for business. Without it, you have a smaller viewpoint, less ideas and therefore less innovation”

Buchzeiger isn’t the only one who sees diversity as a good business practice. Earlier this month NASDAQ requested the SEC implement a new rule for companies on the U.S. stock exchange, requiring them to have at least one woman and one underrepresented minority director on their boards.

“There has been a lot of progress in the industry, which is exciting,” Buchzeiger said. “But if we don’t continue to focus on diversity and inclusion, we can get complacent and see things regress. That would be a problem.”

She has made a point to implement inclusion efforts in both policy and practice at Lucerne. First, with a detailed non-discrimination policy readily found in every employee handbook, but also in the company culture she creates.

One of Buchzeiger’s greatest goals in life is to leave an impact on as many people as she can. She believes her thriving small business is the perfect vehicle to accomplish this goal and DEI is a large part of that.

“The biggest thing for me is creating an environment where people are not only excited to come to work each day, but feel happy, accepted and fulfilled while they’re here,” said Buchzeiger.