According to a recent article in BOSS Magazine women in the automotive industry are the minority by a longshot. They account for a mere 16 percent of all workers in auto.
What do women bring that men don't? Sorry guys but (generally) speaking women tend to be more empathetic and relatable, particularly when dealing with customers. Customers have reported that they feel less 'sold to' when dealing with a female sales consultant and much more at ease in their buying process.
So why is female leadership missing in dealerships? For me I see it as a combination of things: awareness, inflexibility and the ability to coach and mentor correctly. We need to consciously be advocating diversity in the workplace. And I don't mean just talking about it as though it's a tick box exercise and then actively doing nothing to encourage or promote it. The hiring process needs to change – how many times I've heard people say "I just can't find good staff" but are you thinking outside the square? Do you look in places other than recruitment agencies? What about non-for-profit organisations or community centres where women flock in herds to try and get assistance in getting back into the workforce? This requires appropriate coaching, time, energy and dedication. There are so many options available – just not enough awareness or time gets dedicated towards seeking them out.
What is stopping business owners introducing job-share opportunities particularly for women with young children or families? The hours need to become somewhat flexible. It is fact that most women I know who run a household and work fulltime are the most reliable when it comes to getting a job done. They're the ones who are usually the happiest having a quick lunch and getting back to it because they know how much work needs to be achieved by the end of the day. They don't want to sacrifice being a mum for the sake of their career. Ironically, most of our men have wives or partners and experience first hand the dedication a woman puts into her work and household. Don't dismiss the idea before you've given it a good hard go! The appropriate coaching and mentoring will contribute to its' success.
Imagine what a different workforce we could be if we had more female leadership presence? Sure, in some cases we're now starting to see a higher representation of women in senior executive roles (particularly at an OEM level). However, the stats are still alarmingly low. I spoke recently with several young women already in the industry expressing their desire to achieve senior management status – their common denominator? They don't know what to do to achieve it and feel as though their boss doesn't take them seriously. I would hate to see these ladies lose their determination to succeed. Or worse still, feel as though they need to behave like men to become successful!
It's a wonderful thing to come across Women with Drive and motivation – not seen enough in certain circles!
When I set out to create my own business, my purpose was very clear to me; it's my job and passion to create awareness and start to shine a positive light on our industry – one which has previously been overlooked by women. Equally, I want to assist in coaching our senior executives so that keeping great women and encouraging female leadership in our business becomes second nature. Rather than talking about how difficult this all is to achieve, let's talk less and do more!