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Hiring women is not the right thing to do.
Hiring women is the only thing to do for businesses and auto dealerships that want to succeed.
Diversity is a key factor that attracts the “creative class” (as Richard Florida calls people who work in fields that require problem-solving). Diverse communities are creative communities, and they're better equipped to keep up in the digital age.
The cumulative results of a gender-diverse society are breathtaking. As Alec Ross notes, “States and societies that most systematically and intentionally advantage the position of women in business and in the economy . . . are those that compete and succeed.”
Women in the Automotive Workplace
Despite the facts, however, many industries — including the automotive industry, where we spend most of our time — are slow and resistant to change.
According to an NADA 2015 workforce study analyzing the diversity in the automotive industry:
- Women make up only 18.5% of employees in the automotive industry.
- Only 8% of these female employees work in key leadership positions, while 91% work in office and admin support.
- The turnover for female sales consultants is 90%.
These pathetic statistics make even less sense when compared to the economic incentive for change:
- 85% of all automotive buying decisions in the U.S. are influenced by women.
- 65% of service work is ordered by women.
- 47% of female buyers prefer female dealers.
Why is gender equality so slow to come when there's such a high economic incentive for it?
An interview with Christy Roman and Jody DeVere at the recent Digital Dealer conference highlighted the barriers raised by auto dealers. Compensation, tradition, fear of sexual harassment litigation, and good old-fashioned sexism are all barriers to gender equality.
Fortunately, there are answers to these perceived barriers. There is one step that could easily be taken to improve diversity in the automotive industry and other businesses: create a flexible work schedule.
The difficulty of balancing work and home is often the reason women leave a job or the workforce as a whole. According to IMF research, it's a major reason that Asian countries like Japan have nearly a 25% gap in labor participation between women and men.
In industries such as automotive, with long hours and compensation often based on commission, it is not surprising that women are less likely to participate. As Roman and DeVere noted in their session at Digital Dealer, creative solutions — including part-time work options, breastfeeding support, and attractive maternity leave — could open up options for participation.
After all, if day care could improve Japan's economy by allowing women to participate, flexible work schedules and support for women could go a long way in the auto industry and other fields facing challenges with female participation.
Women in Leadership
The economic incentive to find more ways to attract female leaders could not be greater.
Even the center-right economic research institute The Peterson Institute has concluded:
Going from having no women in corporate leadership (the CEO, the board, and other C-suite positions) to a 30% female share is associated with a one-percentage-point increase in net margin — which translates to a 15% increase in profitability for a typical firm.
The next question is: why?
Curt Rice summarizes these findings:
Five of these [leadership behaviors] are used more often by women: people development, expectation & rewards, role models, inspiration, and participative decision making.
Two are used by men and women with equal frequency: intellectual stimulation, and efficient communication.
And two are used more by men: control & corrective action, and individualistic decision making…
With more women in leadership positions, companies will be rated higher on those components of organizational excellence that are positively influenced by the leadership behaviors that women favor.
A diverse organization excels in all areas of leadership behavior. Customers and employees respond to different leadership characteristics. Women ensure that businesses have the leadership skills needed for whatever situation arises by diversifying strengths in the leadership team.
In short: hiring women is not the right thing to do.
Hiring women is the best way to create successful businesses and communities that people actually want to work and live in.
More Insight into Hiring and Company Culture
Hiring millennial employees requires different benefits and schedules.
As a company of millennials, 9 Clouds created a guide to help you navigate these new waters. Download our Guide to Millennials to get started.