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NADA's Women Driving Auto Retail Initiative Empowers Female Dealership Employees



Maryann Malesardi

Maryann Malesardi

Senior Manager, Event Marketing

It was pedal to the metal at NADA’s Women Driving Auto Retail (WDAR) event in Las Vegas! This year marked the annual event’s expansion to a full day of programming, featuring structured and informal networking, inspiring speakers, and expanded educational sessions.

Nearly 500 dealers, managers and industry allies came together to participate in this dynamic event.

As always, attendees left with actionable insights they can implement in their dealerships to attract and retain more female talent.

Tayisha Beard speaks at the 2024 WDAR event

Tayisha Beard, senior director of auto sales with Ally, emphasized the value of networking, learning and personal growth that WDAR brings to the automotive industry. Ally was a platinum sponsor of the event. 

Shelley Zalis, founder and CEO of The Female Quotient, ignited the audience with the importance of "heartbeat moments." She urged each of us to break patterns, follow our hearts and be trailblazers. Zalis explained that we must “change the equation … to close the gap.”

Jen Sherry, senior director of sales at platinum sponsor CarGurus, highlighted the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) to “boost team dynamics, productivity and innovation within organizations.” When asked about the less familiar “belonging,” in this acronym, it became clear that a company's DEI efforts to develop a culture are only successful when employees feel a sense of belonging in the environment.

Dr. Amy Cuddy speaks at WDAR event at NADA Show

Social psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy, presenter of the second-most-viewed TED Talk of all time, shared insights on approaching challenges with excitement, executing with calm confidence and leaving with satisfaction. She emphasized the power of personal presence and offered practical tips to reverse-engineer feeling powerful: 

  1. Breathe deeply.
  2. Speak slowly.
  3. Expand the body in movement and posture.

Solving Industry Challenges Through Collaboration
The networking at WDAR, sponsored by Solera, went beyond the usual mix-and-mingle, challenging attendees to tackle tough questions around gender parity. Discussions revolved around identifying departments lagging in hiring and retaining women, as well as finding ways to welcome working parents with flexible hours.

Participants were empowered and impassioned when prompted to find or be a “sponsor,” who actively promotes growth and advocates for career advancement.

After a networking lunch sponsored by Group 1 Automotive, the second half of the day offered a range of educational opportunities, as attendees spread across eight different workshops and a super session, with topics ranging from recruitment to AI to sales performance. The day concluded with a spirited happy hour at the Convention Center, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among participants.

Beyond an Event: A Driving Force for Change
NADA's Women Driving Auto Retail is more than an event; it's an ongoing initiative committed to amplifying the voices of women in the automotive retail industry.

Check back for more WDAR content throughout the year and mark your calendar for NADA Show 2025, Jan. 23-26, 2025!