DETROIT -- Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson is calling for a boycott of BMW products because of a lack of diversity among its U.S. dealer body.
He pointed to African-Americans in particular, who own just seven BMW stores out of more than 300 in the U.S., according to the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers' 2016 census.
Hispanics own five BMW stores, while Asians own nine, according to NAMAD data.
He made the announcement during Friday's Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit here.
“BMW has a decades long commitment to diversity and it’s evident in our employees, our suppliers and our dealerships," BMW said in a statement. "As an active member of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers we are always looking for ways to increase both management and ownership of our dealerships by minorities."
Jackson said he's calling for anyone who cares about the issue to participate in the boycott.
"They choose to boycott us, we're going to reciprocate. We want a mutually beneficial relationship; we want two-way trade," Jackson told Automotive News during the summit. "We [buy] 11 percent of their luxury BMWs. We deserve a relationship."
Rainbow Push said BMW didn’t reply to the organization’s survey for its latest Automotive Diversity Scorecard.
The biennial scorecard measures the progress automakers are making to diversify. The categories are employment, advertising, marketing, procurement, dealers and philanthropy.
Rainbow Push says the scorecard provides an opportunity for manufacturers to evaluate themselves.
The group assigns color-coded scores in green -- the top rating -- yellow and red. BMW didn’t participate, so the automaker received red marks in every category.
The top five brands are Ford, Toyota, General Motors, Nissan and Hyundai.
“Some research we don’t have because [BMW] won’t meet with us. They have all reds. Some companies are part yellow, part green because they’re trying to improve,” Jackson said.
BMW has come under fire for alleged discriminatory practices. Jackson's call for a boycott is just the latest episode.
BMW of North America told Automotive News this year that it was investigating claims of racism and sexism in its Mini division after a decadelong temporary worker lodged a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint said the company retaliated against her illegally after she asked about becoming a permanent employee.
Vince Bond Jr.
Automotive News Europe
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