Women aren’t even represented by 1 in 5 employees inside the dealership world. And that number is even smaller when it comes to women in positions of leadership inside this industry. However, in the last few years there has been a push to create an environment of inclusion for women in the automotive industry. Today I'm introducing to you to one of the Women leading that charge.
Meet Kathy Gilbert. Currently she is the Director of Sales and Business Development at CDK Global. She is also an advocate for all of CDK’s minority and women owned dealerships. On top of that, Kathy also helped found the organization, Women in Automotive.
“I have been passionate about advocating for women from the beginning, it’s been a long time," She told DrivingSales News.
In the automotive industry for 24 years Kathy has noticed a few trends that are keeping the dealership environment the boys club that it’s always been perceived as.
“I think the number one thing is the automotive industry is a male dominated industry," Kathy said. “The culture in some dealerships is one where they don’t given women the respect they deserve.”
But there are ways to fix these problems and make the industry a place where women want to be and want to lead. She says It all starts with the women who are already here and they need to speak up. If you’re not sure if you can speak up, or if what you have to say has value, Kathy has this advice, "be authentic. You have something to say.”
She tells the women she mentors that sharing experiences, and thoughts, will give you trustworthiness, “Once you start talking about what you do, people believe you and you have credibility and it just works.”
What you have to say matters, even if you don’t have all your T’s crossed and I’s dotted.
"You don’t have to know everything. What worked for you may work for someone else. You just have to be open enough to let them hear your story," Kathy said.
Finally, doubt can creep in while trying getting a seat at the table and representing yourself as a leader. But Kathy says to trust yourself and just do it.
"Once you start speaking it gives you the confidence to keep speaking. Once you step up it gives you the confidence to keep doing that. You’ve gotta get past that initial oh wait i don’t know. Once you get past that initial and you speak up, and speak your mind it get’ easier to do."