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Sustainability in a Broader Sense: How Diversity Initiatives are Setting Bentley Motors Up for Longevity in the Luxury Sector The company is pushing a new five-pronged approach as part of its Beyond 100 initiative.

By Emily Rella

Bentley Motors
Unifying Spur via Bentley Motors

Diversity has certainly become a buzzword for major corporations across the board over the past few years, with a call for inclusion of more BIPOC employees and executives sparking mainstream conversations based on protests and demonstrations around the country.

But simply hiring employees who fit the profile isn't necessarily doing the work and going deep enough, leading many companies to rethink and reshape their strategies when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

The luxury automotive industry has seemed to be behind in this regard, with customer bases and overall company reputations feeling archaic and outdated.

Yet as the market evolves, so must the companies that provide the product, both internally and tangibly with the vehicles they're pushing out.

Enter Bentley Motors' Beyond 100 initiative, which aims to produce only battery electric vehicles by 2030. This notion towards sustainability is already well under way for the company -- Bentley's HQ became the first carbon-neutral luxury automotive factory in the UK back in 2019 and the company aims to sell hybrid-only vehicles by 2023.

Related: CEO and Chairman Adrian Hallmark Wants Bentley Motors to Be the Most Sustainable Luxury Automotive Manufacturer In the World. He's Well on His Way.

And though the intersection between sustainability and diversity may seem muddled at first it really is quite clear.

The 2022 customer cares about who they are buying from and what that company stands for. The modern luxury vehicle buyer tends to care about environmental concerns (read: sustainability) and inclusion in all sectors.

For Bentley, sustainability also means sustainability in terms of longevity — how does a company over 100 years old continue to not only innovate and stay relative, but stay attractive to a new and evolving customer base?

Simple — hone in on what's important to the new customer, and that's diversity.

As a part of Beyond 100, Bentley rolled out a new five-pronged approach towards recruiting and maintaining diverse talent (the five steps specifically being outreach, recruitment, succession planning, culture and development).

The aim is simple: acquire, recruit (via "organizations with diverse intakes") and sustain (by looking to multinational and international offices) diverse talent.

"Development programs will ensure that colleagues from all walks of life are able to grow and achieve their full potential. This will be underpinned by measurable KPIs and targets, and Board-led engagement to drive a positive culture and remove unconscious bias," the company said. "The recently-launched colleague network groups will also help drive engagement within the business through a series of strategic events and activities.

Bentley Motors has set the goal to be not only the most sustainable luxury automotive company in the world, but also the most diverse with a target goal of an increased diversity in management to 30% by 2025.

Related: I Drove a $2 Million Bentley That's One of Only 12 In the World and Lived to Tell the Tale

CEO of Bentley Americas, Christophe Georges, explains that the company's typical American customer base consists of "entrepreneurs for the larger part" and many people in the "financial and real estate industry." As these customers tend to skew younger, so do their ideals.

"We want to be the most sustainable luxury mobility company. This is not only about carbon emission, it's about great values — diversity, inclusion, supportive communities. It's about sustaining the skills we have in our factories, craftsmanship skills, creating substance on the back of luxury … [It's about] sustainability in the wider sense," Georges told Entrepreneur. "Living out those values where we want them to live makes [our workers] even more proud of what they do and to be working for such a company, and this is something we want to share with our customers. It's quite appealing to buy a car from a manufacturer that's taking responsibility and making an impact … we are investing a lot in this direction."

Part of that investment included tapping one if its designers, Richard Morris, to paint the Unifying Spur, a (at the time) one-of-a-kind designed Flying Spur meant to be a physical visualization of the inclusive efforts the team hopes to convey.

The words 'Love is Love' are painted on the car using one continuous line (hence "unified") around different faces and shapes meant to symbolize "the unifying power of humanity, regardless of race, creed or sexuality." The colors chosen represent the nine colors of the Progress flag.

The vehicle has made its way to major auto industry events like Monterey Car Week and tour d'Elegance as well as diversity-centered events like Pride in both New York and Paris. There are currently five Unifying Spurs that have been produced.

Recognizing this shift in what's important to an ever-growing customer base ensures that the company will maintain its reputation in the luxury specter moving forward — and in the next 100 years ahead, Bentley plans to do just that.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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