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Leveraging opportunities to boost diversity in the automotive sector — Ashlee Church | Volkswagen of Marion

Success in the automotive sector is often assessed based on numbers alone, meaning whoever has the most sales is considered the best at the game. However, there are many metrics by which we can gauge success in this industry, some of which measure transparency, ethics, inclusivity, and customer service. Taking time to focus on these elements is not only important for running a business in good standing; they are also essential to achieving sales in the long term.

On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Shyann Malone is joined by Ashlee Church, general manager at Volkswagen of Marion, located in Illinois. Leveraging her years of experience in the industry, Chruch explains what it actually takes to improve gender diversity in the automotive sector and how the business will need to change if it hopes to continue growing.

Key Takeaways

1. Church highlights her unique position as a female general manager in a predominantly male industry, emphasizing the need for more inclusivity and encouragement for women to pursue careers in the automotive sector. Her own journey, influenced by family legacy and evolving interests, reflects a growing trend of women taking leadership roles in the industry.

2. Church stresses the importance of conducting business ethically and transparently in the automotive sector, noting that these values contribute significantly to both personal success and a dealership’s reputation. This approach not only fosters trust with clients and customers but also sets a standard for industry practices.

3. Church notes a generational shift is underway in the automotive sector, where female leadership is becoming more prevalent and traditional gender roles are increasingly challenged.

4. Volkswagen of Marion has taken a proactive stance toward the evolving electric vehicle market. Heavy investments in necessities such as training and infrastructure are vital to succeeding in this new segment, even in rural areas like southern Illinois, where the consumer base is still developing.

5. Church calls on the automotive sector to continue evolving toward a more diverse and inclusive structure, where women are not only present in sales and leadership roles but across all departments. She argues that creating a positive and ethical work environment is key to attracting and retaining female talent in the industry.

"Being a diverse organization is not just having women at the top; it's also having a strong network within the entire organization. So I think that over time, we need to hire, recruit, and train." — Ashlee Church

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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