I predict women’s voices are only going to get louder and more influential in 2019. Will you be listening and respond in ways that will increase your bottom line with women and in the diverse markets your serve?
In 2018 women marched, they advocated for each other with the #MeToo and the #TimesUp movement. A record 121 women were elected or held their seats in congress during the 2018 mid-term elections, this will bring the share of Congress members who are women up from the current 20 percent to nearly 23 percent — a new high, but far from parity. The 116th Congress will feature a record number of women of color and the first Native American women, the first Muslim women and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Diversity and inclusion issues including the LBGTQ community were at the forefront of heated debates in 2018 and will continue in 2019.
On the heels of the recent 2019 International Women’s March 2019, four women have made announcements to run for the 2020 presidential election, buoying gender equality conversation at the highest level.
If the rising tide of women voices in 2019 are making you uncomfortable or you tend to avoid talking about these issues in your organization, a recent Harvard Business Review study that found men frequently stay on the sidelines and avoid speaking up about programs aimed at creating gender parity. Unless men and women both feel that their ideas and concerns have a place in the conversation, they will not equally feel responsibility for the success of such programs, and fundamental change in organizational culture toward gender parity might not be realized.
So, such change programs often become labeled as “women’s issues” within organizations. The findings of the study indicate that organizations need to take actions to increase men’s participation. When men are made to feel that they have a legitimate role to play in such programs, they may be more likely to participate. Hence, organizational leaders need to explicitly communicate that all employees, regardless of their gender, have a stake in and can meaningfully contribute to gender parity programs.
Source: “How to Get Men Involved with Gender Parity Initiatives”, Harvard Business Review
Fact: Although Women Are Almost Half of the US Labor Force, They Still Represent Only About One-Quarter of the Automotive Workforce
The automotive industry has difficulty attracting women into entry-level positions.
In a survey of women in various industries, respondents reported that the automotive industry was one of the least successful at attracting and retaining women.
Fact: Women Report High Levels of Bias and Sexual Harassment
In the automotive industry, women report higher rates of sexism and sexual harassment compared with the tech and advertising industries, including:
Being tasked with lower-level assignments compared to their male peers (65%).
Unwanted sexual advances (65%).
Feeling unsafe at work (25%).
Source: Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in the Automotive Industry (August 21, 2018)
How then does our industry hire, retain, develop more women leaders, market and sell and generally create a culture of inclusion to such a diverse landscape of women in 2019?
- Commit to diverse leadership representation, it is a good indication that your company is beginning to understand the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
- Commit to and have a long-term strategic plan to increase, retain and have a clear career path into leadership for women employees in 2019.
- Review your company discrimination and sexual harassment policies. “Your best defense is a strong offense: roll out a harassment prevention program that’s thorough and built on best practices”, from Compli.com
- The majority of people don’t find automotive advertisers or marketers to be that trustworthy, nor do they feel that advertising reflects reality. Women are even less trusting of automotive advertisers. Don’t go it alone , work with marketing and advertising agencies that have a track record of success that specialize in the women’s market, diversity and inclusion.
- Don’t be a “Know it all” on the women’s market, education is key in keeping in sync with the complex and ever evolving trends, tactics and best practices in the women market and in diversity training.
Commit to attend 2019 conferences to connect with and support the educational expertise provided by the Women in Automotive Conference, the Automotive News Leading Women Conference and the Women and Automotive Canadian Leadership Forum to name a few opportunities to learn from the experts in the coming year.