Breaking the Imbalance of Women Executives at Car Dealerships: Breaking the Gender Gap?

Whether it’s the film industry or the auto industry, the shift in lead roles is hard to miss. The 2014 Oscars that took place a couple of weeks ago was truly a revelation of the changing gender role trends in films. More than one film nomination had strong female leads, enjoying almost all the air time as opposed to their male roles.

In the Oscar nominated film “Gravity,” Sandra Bullock played the lead role while George Clooney played the supporting role. According to an article in the New York Times, Ms. Bullock occupied almost 87 percent of the film’s running time and was the life of the film. This was an industry first and did not go unnoticed.

Women taking over lead roles is a step towards breaking the “stereotype” and reducing the gender gap. Just like the film industry, the auto industry landscape is also experiencing significant shifts where women are becoming the fastest growing car-buying segment.

Analysis on Professional Women at Dealerships

There remains a tremendous and visible gap in the number of women working in dealerships compared to the number of female buyers. The percentage of women working at dealerships is between 18 percent and 20 percent, while women represent over half of all purchasers.

Yet, many of the women are largely working behind the scenes at car dealerships in business development roles, service, social media, advertising, Internet and office administration. Women in sales roles are fewer in number.

The era when men sold cars to men is over. Today is the genesis of a diverse customer base. How can the needs of these buyers be met, and exceeded?

It’s Time to Mentor & Develop Women Leaders at Car Dealers

Who would have thought that male actors like Clooney would be playing a supporting role while the actress would be the lead? Just like this gender gap is being bridged in film, now is the perfect time for dealerships to implement the same strategy and groom women to be take on leadership roles.

According to CNW Research, of the 17,540 new-car dealers just under 3 percent are women-owned — a significant, grossly disproportionate under-representation.

By having women in leadership and executive positions at car dealerships, it will open up options for buyers to have more choice. In 2010, CNW Research found that when asked, 47 percent of women car shoppers would prefer to do business with women dealers — a huge upside for female-run businesses.

This leads to the bold question: Who will take on recruiting, training and developing women to become GSM’s, board members and dealer principals?

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Tags: brands, buyers, by, car, cars, dealers, dealerships, rated, reviews, with, More…women, working


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Comment by Anne Fleming on March 19, 2014 at 3:03pm

Wendi, Michael, Joelle -- thanks for rich and direct comments. Its an ongoing discussion and movement, with all eyes on the prize - at many layers and levels. 

Comment by Wendi Nelson on March 19, 2014 at 2:17pm
Key to hiring and retaining is female leadership. As Michael said, in the service department women are relieved to deal with a woman. Same concept applies to female sales reps with female dealer/management. Head of the snake first then our staff.
When Venus meets Mars in an employment scenario in our industry it needs to be managed with a ratio of a little more estrogen than testosterone. Don't get me wrong, no special treatment, just different approach which has always been a challenge in our stores
Comment by Michael Baker on March 18, 2014 at 8:21pm

In my experienced opinion, women are excellent representative in the sales arena relative to men, with lower turnover. The challenge is having ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen with customers and between each other... The typical hours and compensation plans in stores that are successful with gaining a respectful level of sales staff 1:1 are out of the traditional model. I also have experienced tremendous success with women in the service drive. They are 'at times' such a relief to many ladies coming into our drives and succeed in retention of customer pay customers leading to more and more sales.

Comment by Joelle Felice Paige on March 18, 2014 at 5:24pm

It is so inspiring to see women listed as the "Fixed Ops Director" or "Service Manager" on dealership STAFF pages! There is no denying the contributions women have made, and continue to make, in this industry. I hope more stores will recognize this. Great post!

Comment by DealerELITE on March 18, 2014 at 5:21pm

Anne Thank you for sharing, dE members "What are your thoughts on The Imbalance of women in our industry?"

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