We’ve Got a Long Way to Go, One Step at a Time
I have worked in the automotive remarketing industry for 14 years. During my journey, I have been lucky enough to have great mentors and managers, male and female, who helped guide me, and I am grateful for that. But while I have seen my career grow, as well as the careers of several of my female colleagues, I know that we are still underrepresented in the C-suite, in the board room, in middle management — let’s face it, at every level in this industry.
I like to look at this situation not as a challenge, but as an opportunity — an opportunity for the industry, for KAR and for my team in particular to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Not just focusing on including women in the workforce, but ensuring that we include a diverse mix of people across the workforce.
It’s not to say we haven’t made strides in promoting diversity. We have. But I know we can do better. As a human resources leader, I am in the unique position of leading change for a global automotive remarketing and technology company and therefore being in a position to truly impact the statistics. In the engineering, industrial manufacturing and software technology industries, women’s representation at the entry level starts out small (~35%), and is even smaller in higher-level positions: manager (~27.5%), senior manager/director (~24%), VP (~20.5%), SVP (~19%), and C-suite (~17.5%).1
I am proud to say that KAR is taking an active role in supporting women in the automotive and auto remarketing industry by sponsoring events that promote female leadership and development. We participate annually in industry conferences like Women in Remarketing, Women In Automotive and Women & Automotive with award nominees, speakers and panelists, and we encourage our employees to attend as part of their development. Just this month, we launched the Women@KAR employee resource group focused on mitigating gender bias, building strong mentoring relationships, accelerating professional development and encouraging self-advocacy. An accompanying internal website allows men and women across the enterprise to engage in promoting gender diversity.
We are going further than just creating a gender-diverse environment — we want diversity of experience, too. In 2018, 19.2 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 8% of the civilian noninstitutional population age 18 and over. About 10% of all veterans were women.2 This exclusive group of talent already has the experience of working in a team environment, the discipline to manage and launch initiatives, and the agility to pivot and take on new projects. We are recruiting veterans by hosting virtual job fairs and posting job openings on military job boards like the Veterans Employment Center, a job portal created by the Department of Veterans Affairs. And once they are hired and become #KARsquad members, we honor their service by showcasing them on our Veterans of KAR internal website and sharing their stories on KAR social media channels.
Finally, we want diversity of ideas, fresh thoughts and insights. We have a steady pipeline of young talent entering the workforce — millennials and generation Z. As of 2017, 56 million millennials were working or looking for work.3 We are training and hiring this talent. At KAR, we are proud to offer internship opportunities, host Orr fellows and create partnerships with skills-based education programs like City Life Wheels, SkillsUSA, Universal Technical Institute, and the NAAA Auto Auction Jobs network. Not only do we want to attract young talent, but we also want to ensure they have the skills to succeed at KAR and in the industry at large.
The automotive industry has a long way to go to boast a gender-equal, diverse and inclusive workforce. As an HR leader at KAR, I am committed to empowering my team to do more and will continue to engage within KAR and our industry to offer more opportunities to diverse talent who will drive our industry forward. Let’s create partnerships, support the development of our employees, look beyond automotive experience on resumes and provide an environment where diversity is encouraged and fostered. One day we could have a C-suite and workforce representative of our population, one step at a time.