Jody DeVere’s breakout session addressed the importance and value of employing females in the collision repair industry.
Among the three breakout sessions offered on Tuesday afternoon during WIN's 2017 Educational Conference was "Why Is It So Important to Attract, Hire and Retain Women Employees?" presented by Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com.
DeVere began by observing that most women enter the collision repair industry by accident, but there is something special about the automotive industry, and it makes for a fun, challenging and interesting career.
Starting with some statistics on female consumers, DeVere noted that women buy more than half of new cars, influence up to 80% of all vehicle purchases, and request 73% of service repair work, spending over $200 billion on new vehicles and vehicle servicing annually. Despite their strong role in the market, women continue to report poor automotive retail experiences, largely because women process information and make purchasing decisions differently than men. On average, women speak 20,000 words daily compared to an average of 3000-4000 for men who are prone to thinking and speaking in bullet point format. While women communicate through storytelling, this approach causes men to stop paying attention.
Some of the barriers to the industry hiring and promoting women include an unconscious bias among managers, a lack of work/life balance, a lack of female role models, a lack of qualified incoming talent, and women's confidence and aspirations. DeVere cautioned, "If you don't understand female consumers, you won't understand your female employees."
Although most companies in the automotive industry are interested in hiring females, they cannot retain them. Obstacles include women not applying for these positions, women wanting more base salary (especially millennials), and long hours creating child care issues. Additionally, there's a lack of a clear career path, HR benefits aren't competitive with other industries, and there's a risk of sexual harassment lawsuits.
"Sexual harassment is prevalent in the automotive industry, and we should all be armed with how to respond," DeVere stated. "We will only move forward together, along with the men who support us. We need everyone to be advocates for the industry and invite talented women to apply for jobs because they will bring new energy to your organization."
Culture is important to women as well - women tend to prefer teamwork, they like seeing other women in leadership roles, and they value mentorship programs. It is beneficial for companies to hire a mix of genders, races and cultures, and companies that hire women have proven to be more profitable, DeVere insisted.
DeVere recommended using keywords in job descriptions to attract women from female-dominated fields, to employ a scripted and professional interview, and to onboard in days rather than weeks. It's helpful to attach a new hire to multiple department heads to help a woman feel like she's part of the organization, and providing ongoing training and certifications will create loyalty as she'll feel the company is investing in her. It's also vital that companies promote top-performing women within the organization.
Addressing the question of what is a female-friendly culture, DeVere shared the following:
* Be intentional in hiring and recruiting women.
* Maintain a culture women can thrive in.
* Create flexibility to increase work/life balance.
* Women must be shown a clear career path.
* Strive to promote women. Women need other women as role models and mentors.
DeVere advised companies to include more women in leadership roles, encourage senior leaders to become sponsors, and create a culture of diversity and inclusion. Men should become members/sponsors, make networking opportunities more inclusive, and check for bias in their decision-making. DeVere urged women to "seek mentors and sponsors, expand your networking, take charge of your career, and set your own priorities. Women need to help one another and reach out to each other."