The person writing this article today, isn’t the same person I was a few years ago.
My name is Emiliano Void, and I’m a Black man.
Most of my life has been spent doing whatever I could to try to provide stability and security for myself and my family. Growing up without much has a way of putting some serious blinders on your perspective and your emotions. A few years ago, for the first time in my life, I achieved financial stability. For the first time in my adult life, I was able to look after more than my immediate needs.
Last year, with the highly publicized attention around the systemic injustices that Black people face, I decided I couldn’t sit idly by anymore. I got to work. I started by trying to drive change in the community and also in my place of work, a great company called Cox Automotive Canada. I helped put together its first Black-focused employee resource group, called the Black Employee Network, with the goal of combating anti-Black and systemic racism through education, celebration and inspiration.
The impact was incredible. The willingness of good people to get involved and support real change encouraged us to build on the momentum and tackle these issues on a larger scale.
This led to the creation of Accelerate Auto, a not-for-profit organization with the mission of increasing Black representation in Canada’s automotive industry and taking on anti-Black and systemic racism. Our founding members include representatives from dealerships, manufacturers, the automobile aftermarket, automotive associations, media and suppliers. Today, we find ourselves to be the most comprehensive representation of the Black experience in Canadian automotive ever assembled — and we’re just getting started.
Our goal is to create a stronger and more diverse automotive workforce that is truly reflective of the customer base we serve, increase advancement opportunities for Black talent and pave an easier road for the next generation of Black youth. We will accomplish this through our focus areas of awareness, mentorship, education and partnerships.
From what we’ve seen so far, there is a glaring lack of Black representation in the industry, and it’s no secret. This lack of representation is immediately obvious when you look at executive level management, or at the ownership level of franchised dealerships across Canada. But work also needs to be done at all levels.
One of the unique things about Accelerate Auto is that while we are tackling a clear problem in our industry, we also are career professionals who have benefited directly from the great economic and professional opportunities the automotive world provides. We absolutely want to encourage more Black talent and students to pursue a career in automotive. We just can’t do it alone.
Accelerate Auto launched just a few weeks ago, and we have been very encouraged by the positive response we’ve received from the industry. Awareness is a critical component of our work, so the more opportunities we have to engage in conversations with interested partners, the more we’re able to spread our message. In the process, we’re also getting people more comfortable and engaged with this uncomfortable topic, so that we can all address it collaboratively and openly.
We’re currently meeting with potential partners and allies and launching our consultation phase, where we’ll be sharing ideas about our specific initiatives and creating a roadmap to ensure the viability, sustainability and scalability of our efforts.
You don’t have to be tuned into the news every day to see what’s going on in the world. The current social climate has never been more focused on the unique hardships Black people face as a global community. This creates a window of opportunity, and we feel an obligation and a sense of responsibility to seize it in order to drive real change in our industry.
Emiliano Void is the chair of Accelerate Auto, a newly formed not-for-profit combating anti-Black and systemic racism in Canada’s automotive industry. He’s also the National Operations Manager for Cox Automotive Canada. Visit accelerateauto.ca to learn more.
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