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Accelerating Allyship: The next steps on Nissan’s inclusion journey

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Editor's Note: Inclusion does not replace building and selling cars that (all type) consumers want to buy....

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is more important than ever in today’s interconnected world of business and society. At Nissan, DEI impacts the way we serve customers, connect with valued partners, and engage employees. It is a core part of Nissan’s ambition to make mobility cleaner, safer and more inclusive for all. And integrating these principles supports our company goals.

As we take concrete steps to empower employees, customers and partners, Nissan is sharing our second annual DEI report. Under the heading, “Accelerating Allyship,” the report highlights the actions and progress already underway, while looking forward to a roadmap of how we will continue to empower our entire network.

The complete 2023 DEI report is available to download here – and please continue reading for some of the highlights and milestones.

Understanding our strategy

To build a community where everyone belongs, Nissan is strengthening our work environment to inspire everyone to feel comfortable bringing their whole, authentic self to work. We focus on three strategic pillars:

  • People: Unlock every employee’s potential to do the best work of their life
  • Culture: Build a safe space where curiosity and openness drive innovation
  • Partners: Create avenues of opportunity in our industry for employees, consumers, dealers, suppliers and the community

How do we define DEI?

DEI considers every unique human characteristic and every person. More specifically, we define DEI as:

  • Diversity: The full spectrum of human differences and variety of ideas in an organization
  • Equity: Recognizing that each person has different circumstances and allocating the resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome
  • Inclusion: Leveraging diversity to allow each employee to feel valued and able to contribute to their full potential in achieving the mission of the organization

“Nissan Americas’ DEI efforts bolster our heritage of always daring to do what others do not. Five key principles – courage, transparency, equity, vulnerability and inclusivity – guide our actions as we work to build the Nissan and INFINITI brands.” Jérémie Papin, senior vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and chairperson, Nissan Americas.

Listening to and empowering the Nissan team

To understand where we need to go, we need to understand where we are today. Building allyship begins with listening so we can better support everyone at Nissan. We strive to take input from all groups and transform ideas into actions that are meaningful.

To understand our current DEI progress and opportunities for growth, we begin by surveying our organization’s gender and ethnicity data for the Americas region.

We are proud to have received recognition for our work to make Nissan a welcoming and inclusive environment. Nissan Americas achieved Great Place to Work certification across the region, including multiple country-specific, third-party accolades that speak to the movement already made toward our goals. Mexico received the "Top Companies" Certification.

Expanding benefits

Nissan continually looks for ways to support team members’ families, and added several new benefits in 2023 to offer equitable opportunities.

Of note, expanded paid parental leave was a huge success in the U.S., with nearly 400 Nissan employees taking this leave in 2023.

“Paid time away from work to care for my baby was vital to both my physical and mental health. Paid Parental Leave allowed me time to focus entirely on my newborn son without the stress of losing my salary during those special early months.” – Laura Valdez, Nissan Human Resources

Identifying and recruiting talent

To prepare our business for the future, we use the DEI lens when approaching recruitment, mentorship and retention of employees.

It starts before talent joins the company. For example, we build awareness and interest in careers at Nissan among future talent. This is done through various initiatives that reach women in STEM/STEAM, partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and collaboration with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to connect with Hispanic engineering talent from around the country.

One program, The Driving Force, helps expose students from HBCUs to journalism and communications opportunities in automotive. Over 10 weeks, students experience virtual training, mentoring sessions and in-person experiences with Nissan and INFINITI employees; the most recent cohort enjoyed an HR branding session, a tour of the social media command center and a visit to Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, manufacturing facility. The schools with which we partner for these programs – Jackson State University and Tennessee State University – are deliberately chosen because they are near Nissan facilities, helping further build a framework for future opportunities for students at Nissan.

Our focus on mentorship and recruiting starts even before the college level, thanks to opportunities like the annual Nissan Ready program. In February 2024, in partnership with 100 Black Men of America, Nissan hosted 62 African American high school students from around the country for interactive career-building workshops, dynamic presentations and camaraderie.

Growing connections and building advocates

Nissan supports Business Synergy Teams (BSTs), which provide networking, empowerment and professional development forums for employees with shared interests and characteristics.

The newly launched Nissan Alliance of Parents (NAP) BST in Canada, for instance, helps support caregivers through major parenthood milestones, and organized a four-hour CPR and first aid for children training, as well as a “Take Your Kids to Work Day” for high schoolers. Meanwhile, the Nissan BST Green Team drives impactful environmental projects and volunteer activities.

“The Green Team volunteer events are such a great way to make an impact on the environment in real ways we can see immediately but will also have lasting effects; from cleaning up natural places to planting trees for us and future generations to enjoy. Working alongside not only my Nissan colleagues, but environmental organizations and even green teams from other companies, gives me a sense of connection and hope for the future.” – Deb Aron, Manager Sales Operations, INFINITI Sales Operations & Network Development, and Green Team BST Member

Giving back and supporting the community

Nissan is eager to actively participate in the communities where employees, customers and partners call home. We are committed to making an impact through philanthropic work in environmental, educational and humanitarian causes – and our supports includes partnerships, hands-on volunteer hours and donations.

Nissan philanthropic activities in the Americas region this year touched nearly 2.75 million people. In the U.S., the Nissan Foundation supported 39 non-profit organizations in 2023, awarding $1.2 million in donations, while the Nissan Canada Foundation awarded more than $700,000 in donations, as well as donated 106 volunteer build days.

In addition to corporate giving, Nissan supports employees by offering 32 hours of paid volunteer time per year. The company’s long-running support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee demonstrates the benefits of combining financial and employee volunteer support, with millions of meals donated and hundreds of children supported with more consistent access to nutritious food.

Another example of Nissan’s commitment to supporting community is a $75,000 grant to the Girl Scouts in Middle Tennessee (GSMIDTN) for an intensive DEI project that will impact 12,000 children in grades K-12 from 39 Tennessee counties.

“With this grant, we are analyzing our own biases and better understanding the needs of the communities and families we serve. As we become properly equipped with this information, we can develop and strengthen programs to ensure that all girls have a place where they are free to build a sense of stronger self-esteem and purpose.” – Danielle Barnes, president and CEO, Girl Scouts Middle Tennessee

Emphasizing DEI among valued partners

Nissan’s work to champion DEI extends to its work with partners, including dealers and suppliers, to ensure that our entire business operations are inclusive and represent our customer base.

With nearly 40% of Nissan customers and 33% of INFINITI clients having a multicultural background, the efforts of Nissan’s Dealer Diversity Group are crucial to increase the company’s share of minority dealers. This group’s recruiting, guidance, training and operational support has contributed to a 21.9% increase in the network of Nissan minority dealers over the past two years; the number of minority INFINITI retailers increased 35.7% over the same period.

Meeting customers in their language, their culture

With a diverse customer base that has unique perspectives, languages and cultural traditions, Nissan prioritizes communicating in ways that connect with and authentically relate to all audiences.

A highly visible example is partnering with Univision to launch an in-culture, in-language commercial for Latino viewers during the Super Bowl. The commercial, which features Cuban-Dominican comedian Marcello Hernandez and Mexican-American band Grupo Frontera, built a meaningful connection with Latino viewers.

“At Nissan, we are always looking for ways to deeply connect with our customer base, which is one of the most diverse in the industry. Our goal is to ensure we are connecting our brand in places and spaces that are authentic and relevant to them.” Marisstella Marinkovic, Chief Marketing Officer, Nissan U.S.

Additional efforts to inclusively and connect with customers include:

  • Creating both English and Spanish versions of the INFINITI advertisement, “Work of Art”
  • An ongoing partnership with Black Entertainment Television (BET), including celebrating Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary through “Next Up: Beats & Bars,” a continuation of Nissan’s award-winning Next Up campaign
  • Amplifying the voices of Black storytellers through Nissan’s longstanding partnership with the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)
  • Serving as the exclusive automotive sponsor of the 29th annual Family Week organized by the LGBTQ+ organization Family Equality
  • INFINITI invested in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies with “Prideshare,” offering $25 Uber vouchers (1,621 rides total) to ensure those in select metro areas could get to Pride confidently and comfortably

The journey ahead

The work to create a more inclusive environment and better outcomes is a continuous journey for all. We recognize and celebrate our progress thus far, acknowledge the work still ahead and commit to building allyship in the months and years to come.