Chase Auto Exec Highlights Missed Business Opportunity: Women

The consumer side of the auto industry is becoming more female-dominated, and a Chase Auto executive is calling for the industry’s labor force to catch up.

In a blog post published last week, Chief Marketing Officer Melinda Welsh said, “Women consumers are responsible for 65% of new-vehicle purchases and service work done at dealerships.” Still, even with the growing number of females at the consumer end of the business, the number of women in the auto workforce pales in comparison.

“An industry cannot achieve its full potential while excluding the point of view of more than half of its consumers,” she said.

While women comprise almost half of the U.S. labor force, they only held about a quarter of jobs in the auto manufacturing workforce in 2017, the article noted. In this $2 trillion industry, the ratio of women who work at auto dealerships is even lower; only 22% of auto dealer employees and 10% of auto repair and maintenance employees are women. In Welsh’s experience, she wrote, women in the auto industry hold powerful functional and support positions, but rarely have revenue-generating responsibilities.

On the corporate side of the operation, Welsh said she is often “the only woman at a table of 20 industry executives,” a fact that has been consistent throughout her five years at Chase Auto.

Focusing on and hiring women in the workforce has the potential to “transform the auto industry’s profit margins,” Welsh said.

As the article stated, women control or influence 73% of all household spending, “but large gaps exist in the auto industry’s attention to its female customer base,” something Welsh attributes to the fundamental lack of women working in the industry.

“By focusing on the needs of female consumers and empowering and adding female employees, the auto industry can realize real economic value,” Welsh said.

A Chandler, Ariz.-based dealership has gone as far as to develop a program that offers customers the opportunity to work with female sales consultants, and when possible, female finance and servicing employees. Feedback for the program, called Woman to Woman, has shown that female – and male – customers like having the option of dealing with a woman because it makes them feel more confident and less pressured in the car-buying process.

On the corporate side, too, there are women-centric events held for the purpose of empowering and celebrating women in the auto industry work force. Take, for example, Auto Finance Summit‘s Women in Auto Finance Networking Luncheon and the Women in Automotive Conference in Toronto.

Welsh said when she talks to women who are interested in the auto industry, she always says the same thing: “Don’t be afraid to be the only woman sitting at the table – once the industry recognizes the opportunity, you won’t be.”

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