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Cox Automotive’s Chief People Officer Janet Barnard talks about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the auto industry

After more than 32 years at Cox Enterprises, Janet Barnard is retiring in June. Barnard has held many roles with the organization, and she currently holds the title of Chief People Officer for Cox Automotive. Barnard joins the show to discuss her upcoming retirement, her career with Cox, and her perspective on pressing topics currently facing the industry.

Barnard begins the conversation by discussing her career with Cox Enterprises. She began her career as an accountant with the company. When she started, Cox Enterprises was one-tenth of its current size. She made the transition to the company’s automotive sector 10 years ago when she was named Chief Operating Officer of Manheim.

The consumer sentiment toward buying a car online continues to grow in a positive direction. Barnard says that digital retailing has changed the trajectory of the way people want to shop for cars. She uses the comparison of high-speed internet integration to explain the amount of time it might take to see the majority of consumers purchasing cars online. 

When high-speed internet first came out, Cox Communications saw the first 25% of consumers jump on board quickly. The next 50% took much longer to adopt fast internet services, as the company saw the process slow down over the next several years. The last 25% have decided to stay with dial-up internet service and have little interest in making the transition.

The same could be said for online car-buying. While many people have jumped at the opportunity to buy a car without walking into a dealership, others have had a more cautious approach. 

Barnard concludes the conversation by addressing the lack of females in the industry. Barnard says that many females don’t consider a career in the industry because they have a misguided view of automotive from poor marketing. She also says the demands of working in automotive also turn women away. Barnard believes that assembling a diverse team starts with communication with current employees. Dealers should ask their team members their thoughts on hiring and what they believe would be helpful in recruiting team members that represent the community they serve.

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