The Secret to Keeping the Auto Industry Thriving

Nov 17, 2017 | | 162 |

The Secret to Keeping the Auto Industry Thriving

By Kathy Gilbert

The conversation in the industry has been focused on disruptive technology, but there’s one trend that has the potential to massively affect our ability to innovate and meet the demands of our business as a whole — and it revolves around our talent. With the baby boomer generation nearing retirement, it’s estimated that there will be a shortage of skilled labor to the tune of 2 million jobs by 2025. As you can imagine, this dramatically impacts our ability to meet the evolving needs of our customers. While some might argue that technology will help address that shortage, the fact remains that we still need talented individuals to help build that technology.

So where do you find such talent? I — and all those who attended the Leading Women Conference — might make a suggestion: women.

It’s no secret that the automotive industry has been an unwelcoming place for women. Automotive News’ Project XX found that 65 percent of women have experienced unwanted sexual advances while on the job. The culture of the auto industry can make it difficult for women to stay; dealerships see a 96 percent turnover rate for women. When women do stick it out, they have to fight for leadership positions (a trend not limited to the auto industry). In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she shares how only 5 percent of CEOs in the top 500 S&P companies are women, and how the percent of women in leadership has remained largely stagnant over the last 10 or so years. While at the conference, Jeff Kiel of Continental Automotive said, “We have an obligation to change the culture to meet the changing needs of the auto industry.”

So how do we make the automotive industry a welcoming and desired place for women?

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KATHY GILBERT
Director of Sales and Business Development
Kathy Gilbert has been in the automotive industry for over 20 years in various roles of increased significance at CDK Global, Inc. For the last 3 years as Director of Sales and Business Development, she has national responsibility for the minority dealer business, representing over 1,600 customers across the US, generating over $90M in revenues. Kathy is also responsible for building customer advocates and growing CDK’s brand and market share within the women retail business segment, representing over 1,000 customers across the US, generating over $57M in revenues.