Before I answer this question, I’d like to be clear that this is a conference for EVERYONE. We have male and female speakers and attendees and have cultivated a curriculum and environment that stimulates and inspires anyone looking to improve our industry. So, please continue to read my view on why a women’s conference.
The answer is quite simple to me. Because it is necessary. Unfortunately, the reasons as to why aren’t nearly as simple.
The Automotive Industry is one that is exceptionally lucrative, constantly changing and moving, accepts everyone with all of their faults, provides unexpected opportunities, and allows the greatest (and quickest) upward movement within one’s career path of any industry I have ever experienced or networked with. It does, however, carry stigmas, culture problems, a history of poor training and underdeveloped leadership, HR nightmares, and many companies within this space that profit off of perpetuating negative stereotypes. And yet, considering all of the negative reasons to stay away from the industry the population of women in automotive is growing (not nearly as much as it should).
There is plenty of scientific evidence to prove the incredible value that women have had in sales and service departments. And still, women make up such insignificant percentages of the industry as only 2.8% of all dealerships, with nearly 57% of those jobs being clerical and office positions and only 7% in managerial roles! Why?
There are many theories as to why women don’t sign up to join the automotive industry by the droves. Some say it is because of the long hours and sacrificing family life. Others blame a negative company culture and HR issues. I say that while many women may experience all of the above in Automotive, the main issues stem from leadership not investing in finding and hiring the right women and developing leaders for their organizations. I want to make clear that I do not want to make light of these negative reasons I’ve listed as they are all areas that need serious attention in dealerships and automotive companies. If your business is suffering from one of those problems OR you can’t seem to attract good talent… you may want to consider that you may have fallen victim to one of those issues.
Many leaders have come up with incredible solutions such as creative scheduling, strict HR policies, and communication with employees as to their needs. Do not inhibit your business because of baseless fears. Examine your culture, hire the right individuals, and invest in creating leaders. Most of the time you will be surprised as to what an engaged employee will do for your business and for you (male or female).
The environment is changing but not nearly where we should be in equality or even opportunity. I hope that the Women in Automotive movement changes that. I hope that this event isn’t as much a NEED in years to come, but I absolutely feel there is a need for this event right now. The reality is that women in this industry face challenges specific to their gender, there are concerns unique to being a woman in automotive, and there are differences in development in career.
Our goal is to bring to light the opportunities, industry information and challenges while we highlight women who have climbed the ladder successfully, teach those who want more and do not know how to achieve what they want, allow women to network with each other, and provide a safe atmosphere for them to discuss their concerns/challenges.
I fell into the industry seven years ago and fell in love with it a few months after I joined. I have experienced many challenges working in this industry and have networked with many women who share my experiences and concerns. Six years ago at a conference (or even in my day to day routine at work) I felt out of place, uncomfortable, and often times alone. Women need mentors, a place to share experiences and struggles, and network. To provide that outlet was my single reason to join this incredible board to help bring this conference to life.
We hope you join us June 26-28th in Orlando, Fl for our 2nd annual Women In Automotive Conference. This year is bound to be bigger and better than last year and we cannot wait to see everyone there sharing, networking, and learning.
Thank you to those of you who attended last year, to our sponsors, to our supporters, especially to Christy and the rest of the board. You allow us to continue this mission of accelerating the role of women in the automotive industry.
This is simply the beginning.
Subi Ghosh has been in the automotive industry for the past eight years. She spent her first six years in the automotive industry as an Internet Manager, Sales Director, and most recently Marketing and E-Commerce Director. She is a respected speaker at the Automotive Events including NADA, Driving Sales, Digital Dealer and more.
Subi’s passion for the industry and drive to be an advocate for dealers serves as a perfect match as Executive Vice President at Dealer Authority, a digital marketing company that works with dealerships who want a custom-tailored social and search strategy. She keeps actively involved in the automotive community as a blogger on automotive forums, on DealerKnows, and on her own site, AskSubi.com. In this way she shares her knowledge, grows within her profession and plays a small part in improving the way the industry sells and markets cars.