SPECIAL FROM RAINBOW PUSH
CHICAGO – BMW of North America has 364 dealerships but only seven are owned by African-Americans. There are no African-Americans in upper management at BMW, none on its board of directors.
When it comes to racial and economic parity, BMW is at the rock bottom of the automotive industry, according to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Automotive Diversity Scorecard.
That is why Rainbow PUSH, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and other allies in the movement for racial, social and economic justice have announced a nationwide boycott of BMW starting immediately.
“We’re boycotting them because they’re boycotting us,” said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of Rainbow PUSH. “We are not seeking charity or generosity. We are seeking parity and reciprocity.”
Less than two percent of BMW’s dealerships are owned by African-Americans, yet African-Americans account for 11 percent of all of the BMW purchases in the luxury car category.
“We want to be viewed as partners, not just consumers,” Rev. Jackson said. “We demand our fair share of BMW dealerships.”
BMW was the only one of 12 major carmakers not to respond to a Rainbow PUSH diversity survey, seeking data on employment, supplier diversity, minority dealer development, marketing and advertising.
“The lack of transparency by BMW is very troubling,” Rev. Jackson said. “It sends a message of exclusion, but African-Americans cannot and will not be taken for granted. The current picture of black dealership participation is woefully inadequate. We demand respect, transparency and a fair share of the BMW dealerships and until those demands are met, the boycott is on.”
But BMW is not the only carmaker driving in the slow lane when it comes to diversity. Across the board, the industry must do a much better job in reflecting the American car-buying public.
When it comes to consumerism, to buying cars, African-Americans, Latino-Americans and Asian-Americans are over indexed. But people of color are shamefully underrepresented in dealerships, professional services, in the C-suite (upper management positions), board seats and supplier diversity.
African-Americans, for example, own about 1.3 percent of the nation’s 19,473 auto dealerships yet account for about 8 percent of annual new car sales. African-American auto dealerships have been reduced by 63 percent from 751 in 2005 to 263 in 2017.
Overall, people of color – African-Americans, Latinos and Asians – own about 5.7 percent of the auto dealerships across the country, according to the diversity survey conducted for the recently concluded 18th annual Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit in Detroit.
“The numbers are horrendous,” Rev. Jackson said. “Fifteen percent of the dealerships owned by African-Americans, Latinos and Asians should be the baseline goal. We want our fair share of dealerships, suppliers, professional services contracts, advertising and marketing dollars. We want mutually beneficial trade relationships.”