In recent years, initiatives to increase the number of women in the automotive industry have started to gain momentum. Programs designed to increase women-owned dealerships are leading to more female CEO and executives. Specialized training programs aided in higher numbers of female auto mechanics. However, women still only make up 20% of service adviser jobs and 7% of top dealership jobs in the US. According to an NADA Dealership Workforce Study in 2018, female employee turnover was high at 50%, with sales, F&I and service the most impacted. The COVID-19 pandemic only made it worse by disproportionately impacting working women.
As dealers continue to adjust to the “new normal,” here are some helpful ways that they can help women build a rewarding, lasting career in automotive retail.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that employees can work remotely and still be highly productive. Adopting family-friendly processes allowing women to telecommute or rotate shifts can lead to better work-life balance, and enable dealerships to recruit and retain better employees.
The right technology can enable gender equality, allowing dealerships to adapt to obstacles that are unique to women. Legacy DMS systems require a VPN, forcing employees to be in the dealership to access it. This has historically prevented women from pursuing a career that forces them to be stuck onsite for long hours at a time. New cloud-native solutions now allow employees to log in from home, easily and securely without VPN, providing for maximum flexibility and productivity.
Everyone wants a collaborative work environment where they feel supported. Take time to regularly check in with employees to better understand the demands they face personally and professionally. Leverage solutions with built-in communication features that enable staff to feel more connected with their teams while interacting with each other more seamlessly.
Employees tend to stay longer when employers offer them career development opportunities. Whether it’s internal discussions on potential promotions or formal training from NADA, provide resources for meaningful career growth.
While promotions and pay raises are key to retaining employees, dealerships need to be mindful of unconscious gender bias that may seep into those processes. Work-life balance has changed dramatically, and the lines have blurred between family and work for many, with women being affected disproportionately. Take a critical look at dealership promotion and reward programs to ensure that they reward high-performing employees, regardless of their home commitments.
Greater societal awareness has led to a better understanding of demands placed on women. Companies across all industries continue to build more inclusive workplaces where differences of opinion and experiences are increasingly welcomed. The emergence of flexible technology is accelerating a more accommodating work environment. The progress made in this area is beneficial for all of us. Thank you to everyone in the automotive industry, from technology providers to OEMs, that’s helping dealers re-imagine their operations and create more flexible processes that meet the needs of employees and customers alike in an ever-evolving landscape.