OTHER VOICES: Women in auto, tire industries: What's really happening?
PALM DESERT, Calif. (April 13, 2016) — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Despite the prominence of leadership roles, women hold about 25 percent of jobs in the motor vehicle and parts industry as of late 2014.”
And according to an Equal Opportunity Commission report, “Women made up just under 21 percent of employees in car manufacturing in the United States, and 16 percent of executives and senior management.”
The figure for sales positions in the industry is considerably lower, as a high percentage of the few women that who work in this industry are actually in service, clerical and finance positions — and not in customer-facing positions. Considering that women influence 85 percent of all automotive purchases, the fact is that we should be jumping all over this obvious in-our-face opportunity.
We must simply attract and employ more women.
If you've been following the developing trends in the automotive business, you have probably noticed that auto organizations that make a concentrated effort to attract and employ women in their ranks are excited about the potential of considerable returns in both increased business and ROI (return on investment).
Looking at the tire industry, profit margins have gradually slimmed over the past years, much as a result of intelligent and increased access by consumers to actual tire costs. There are a growing number of consumer organizations that also promote direct information access to these costs. As a result, these reduced margins have made it imperative to seek out new opportunities for business that will bring accompanying income and profit.
One of most obvious opportunities for this lies in the process of recruitment and placement of women into the industry.
As much as we desperately need more women in the highly volatile and necessary automotive and tire industries, we are simply are not doing a good job in recruiting women. It is not immediately clear why, but we can surmise that any or all of the following might be reasons:
- There may still be a lingering traditional resistance at the executive manufacturer level, or the tire dealer level, toward having women become a major part of this still male-dominated workplace.
- Tire dealers' decision-making management of their businesses may not be watching trends indicating this opportunity.
- Management and owners may not have the desire or courage to try something new, and may display reluctance to venture into new programs that are out of their range of experience.
- Management may simply not have the knowledge and expertise in redesigning their organizations for marketing to, attracting and hiring women and initializing training and financial incentive programs to make this happen.
- Management may not want to make the minimum monetary investments to make this happen and is reluctant to do so.
- There may not be a clear realization of the top reasons why women might consider joining this industry: providing genuine “challenge” positions and equal monetary opportunities.
- Management may not have administrative and sales positions in place — with women occupying them — that set examples that will motivate the development of programs to further this goal.
- There are few educational programs in place in our national educational system that have curricula involving sales and management for women in these industries. The result is less emphasis on participation by women looking there for a career.
- Many are leaning on “difficult economic” conditions as an excuse for not cultivating more career possibilities for women. (This is not an excuse.)
- Women may still be smarting from poor treatment and/or bad experiences from their last visits to a tire dealership.
OK, all those factors might seem like overwhelming obstacles, but they shouldn't be.
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It may seem like a lot to overcome, but I think we can rise above all these considerations easily by just taking one step at a time. Remember, as the old saying goes, you can even eat an elephant — if you take one bite at a time.
So how do we make this all happen? Here are what I believe the most obvious solutions:
- Re-examine our businesses and models to address elimination of restrictive traditional procedures we may have in place.
- Assign personnel to investigate all applicable trends and new directions in the marketplace.
- Get out of our chairs and make the effort to try new methods. Explore new methodology. Eliminate longtime procedures that are in place just because they've been in place. Be courageous.
- Employ marketing individuals and groups that have expertise in marketing to the women's market and recruiting female job candidates. Visit websites that cater to women and that implement helpful and inspirational women's automotive topics. Try Googling topics that have to do with women in the auto industry.
- Re-examine the positions in your company that can effectively interest and challenge women, and find ways to encourage not only their entry into the industry but pique their interest in making a career of it.
- Re-examine your compensation incentives and adjust them to take into consideration the primary needs of women as permanent, long-term employees.
- Encourage and push our educational institutions to provide realistic training at all levels for the tire and auto industries — including manufacturing and design, executive and regional management, marketing and sales, service and inner-business participation.
Women in business and personal life are time-constrained, practical, money conscious, realistic, really into efficient communication, and exhibit high natural marketing skills. They are efficient in effective communication within their own groups and among friends, and understand meeting needs. They make exceptional mentors, instructors and bosses.
We just can't wait any longer. Let's get professional women into place. And let's make that place in our industry in sales, parts, service, marketing, administrative and executive positions.
Jody DeVere is CEO of AskPatty.com Inc., which provides online automotive maintenance advice specifically tailored to women. She can be reached at 888-737-8599 ext. 6 or via email at [email protected]. Her website is www.certifiedfemalefriendly.com.
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Tire Business would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor Don Detore at [email protected].