The importance of confronting personal biases and prejudices in the automotive industry

Welcome back to Diversity in Automotive, brought to you by TrueCar and CarNow. In today’s segment, host Cory Mosley is joined by David Kain, automotive expert, president of Kain Automotive, and host of Kain & Co. on CBT News. Today, our esteemed host and guest try to make sense of some of the conflicting paradigms that exist in the auto retail industry, and confront the prejudices many face.

Kain begins by reminding us that one of the first rules salespeople are taught is to avoid comments about politics, religion, or any other topics that could potentially offend the customer. However, with the explosion of social media marketing and branding popularity, salespeople now grapple with mitigating their online personas. How can they stay true to their beliefs without alienating clients?

Mosely adds that social culture today is an easily offended one. He recounts a story of sending a ‘Season’s Greeting’ email and got a harsh reply back from the dealer who was upset that he didn’t say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Offense and arguments come easily, especially online.

The pair then move on to the idea of privilege. Kain was brought up in the automotive industry. He worked in the family business, was the first COO of Ford Direct, and has run Kain Automotive for nearly 20 years. So, Mosley poses the question to Kain, Have you ever perceived any type of competitive advantage purely by being a white male?

10 years or so ago, Kain and Mosley’s relationship as contemporaries was young. They both had the opportunity to present a bid for digital and internet training services for Saturn. Mosley did his pitch to five middle-aged white men, three of which were OEM representatives, and two who were Saturn dealers. After what Mosley thought was a good pitch, he came out into the lobby and saw Kain. He immediately knew then, that he wouldn’t get the job.

While the two can chuckle about it all these years later, Mosley didn’t think he would lose the bid because Kain’s prices or pitch would be better, but simply because Kain looked like them. At the time, Mosley didn’t believe that it was racially motivated, he understood that Kain provided a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Kain adds that confronting your own personal biases and prejudices is tough work, but it has to be done. He recalls witnessing the cruel subjugation of a biracial couple on a bus when he was in elementary school in the late 60s. That was his first brush with racism and as a young child, he found it very confusing. In his adult life, as a successful professional, Kain has noticed that it’s the unconscious biases and prejudices, that go unnoticed, which has a profound effect on minorities.

For more great insight from Cory Mosley and David Kain, be sure to watch the entire show above. Don’t forget to join us next Thursday for another episode of Diversity in Automotive.

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