Hiring and holding onto female employees isn’t just about diversifying a dealership’s staff or appealing to female buyers. Evidence has repeatedly shown that including women at all levels of a business strengthens it, with increased returns on investment, more significant innovation, and more.
However, as of 2019, women accounted for less than 25% of US autoworkers. Of that number, only 17.9% worked in dealerships. When surveyed, women typically cite lack of promotion options, work-life balance, and diversity, equity, and inclusion as their top three reasons for wanting to leave once in.
Strategies and Solutions
Dealerships who understand the importance of female employees will address these critiques head-on. Here are four innovative ways to attract and retain female staff at dealerships.
Clearing a path to the top
Even before an employee is hired, they should be aware of advancement opportunities. Knowing they can climb the ladder is a powerful motivator.
As mentioned, many women at dealerships say there are no promotion opportunities available to them. A company looking to hire and retain female workers should make sure that not only are there opportunities, but that they are constantly and consistently highlighted in job descriptions, interviews, staff memos, and ongoing conversations.
Not only that, but dealerships should help staff advance by providing mentorship and continuing education programs. These measures are great for all employees but are especially important to women.
Acknowledging women’s needs
Women hold many roles in our society. Despite an increased involvement in the workforce, women continue to take on the majority of caregiving duties, including child and eldercare. Women often have to make a choice between work and caregiving, which makes it harder for them to stay on, especially during life transitions, such as giving birth.
A dealership hoping to support female staff will help craft roles that allow for flexibility. They will understand that allowing schedules to shift during certain periods will lead to long-term retention later on. Consider meeting periodically with employees to see what their current needs are, and work with them to find flex solutions that are a win-win for both staff and dealership.
Creating an environment for diversity
The final reason women give for skipping the auto industry is a belief that there is a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dealerships can address this concern in different ways.
First, they can make clear their desire to diversify the voices they incorporate at the dealerships, soliciting many perspectives. Often, the best way to show a commitment is from the top down, so dealership leaders should model this as much as possible, broadening employee search criteria and making themselves available for open conversations.
Second, dealerships should aim to be as transparent as possible, particularly when it comes to compensation. This can prompt dealerships to create clear role assignments and salary algorithms that help address unfair wage gaps.
A Final Note: Promote the industry’s future
Centuries of stereotypes place women in a service role at dealerships. However, it’s 2020, and women have been breaking into all sectors, particularly technology. As the auto industry moves further in the direction of smart and electric vehicles, it would be wise for dealerships to highlight this direction when seeking to attract female employees looking to get in on the ground floor of an exciting new automotive chapter.
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