NADA hosted 500 dealership leaders, team members, and exhibitors this morning for the annual Women Driving Auto Retail event held in conjunction with NADA Show 2023 in Dallas. The group gathered for networking and solutions-oriented addresses from two keynote speakers: Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of The Riveter, a coworking space and community platform tailored to the needs of women and WheelsUp founding chief growth officer and global brand ambassador Stephanie Chung.
Both Nelson and Chung shared proof points of the headwinds women face, especially in industries like auto retail that have historically been male dominated, but the perception no longer matches reality. According to data shared by Nelson and Chung, women are 79 percent less likely to be hired, offered $11,000 less in salary for the same position, and are twice as likely to be discriminated against in hiring. Half of women leave the workforce after becoming mothers.
Despite this evidence, the energy in the room was optimistic. Nelson presented steps that both men and women can take to create a more equal workplace. “It’s not your job to fix sexism in America,” she said. “But there are things you can do.”
Nelson set a goal for workplaces to create a management team of at least 30 percent women so that there are always female decision makers present. She advocated for the importance of vocal and active mentorship for women, making a point that mentors can be men, as well as women. Finally, while acknowledging that opportunities for flexibility are limited in dealerships, she emphasized the importance of allowing flexibility where possible, even if it’s just making meetings phone calls so that employees can take a half hour to pick up a child from school.
Chung’s message focused on empowerment and building confidence. Drawing on her personal experiences including both her career path from an airport baggage handler to the first African-American and only second female president of a major private aviation company and her personal journey through cancer recovery, Chung dismantled the buzz of “empowerment,” shifting the focus from giving power to taking power.
She encouraged women to execute this by ignoring the draw to blend in and taking time to do the “inner heavy work” in understanding their individual goals and drive. “When you grab hold of that truth,” Chung said. “Not only will you be empowered, but you will be impactful.”
The event was sponsored by Ally, CarGurus, and Solera. Learn more about NADA’s Women Driving Auto Retail initiative by following us on Facebook.
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