Now more than ever the opinions of women are being considered when it comes to automobile industry. Not only are our opinions considered more, we also have several seats at the table behind the scenes in the automotive industry. That is why I am thankful for the companies that inform, educate and keep us up to date on how women are making a major impact on the automotive industry.
Every February thousand of people converge, commute and or convene in Chicago for the Chicago Auto Show. The show has been going on for over 100 years (111 to be exact) and is the largest auto show in North America. If you have never been to the Chicago Auto Show, it is a one of a kind experience, from the vintage and concept cars to the race cars and new model releases. There are just as many women in attendance as men, so for those of your who believe that Auto Shows are just for men, you are sadly mistaken. Consider the statistics, there are over 100 million women drivers in the United States, which outnumbers male drives. So our opinions matter.
At the Chicago Auto Show this year I had the privilege of being invited to the What Drives Her luncheon and Panel hosted by Women in Automotive and A Girls Guide to Cars. There were several panels presented during the luncheon which left me feeling more educated, more empowered and more energized about the automotive industry.
The first panel discussion was about How Women are Driving Change in the Auto Industry. This panel included a manager of customer analytics, a VP of global quality, VP of engineering and a representative from the Automobile Dealers Association. The second panel was on the topic Work, Life and Creating Balance while Building a Career. This panel included a global director of sales and business development, a global operations and strategic solutions VP, a senior director of dealer strategy, a Facebook client solutions manager and a VP of industry education and relations.
Without including names of the panelist (though they are important) what is most important to note are the titles and the fact that these representatives were all women. While previously a male dominated industry, it is safe to say that the tides are changing and women are occupying their seats at the table with the confidence, courage and charisma required to break the glass ceilings, penetrate the ‘boys networks’ and drive change in the automotive industry while creating work/life balance and managing families as well.
As a woman this was a proud moment for me to witness the power, the dedication and the fervor these women demonstrated. And while I am happy that they are rightfully working in the behind the scenes areas of the automotive industry, I hope to see more women of color represented at the table as well. The reality is that they may be there, they were just not present at this year. I was so inspired I sent a test to my dearest friend, who has a background in engineering, to tell her about what they were doing and that maybe she should consider a career change.
Hearing these women speak about how not only their education and training helped them to reach these areas in their careers, it was great to hear them speak about being promoted because the decision makers trusted that they could do the job. As women I am sure we all know and understand our strengths and our capabilities, we are just waiting for the world to catch up.
The highlight of the luncheon for me was the #SEEHER campaign with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). The #SEEHER campaign helps advertisers and marketers understand the power and influence of women. The campaign slogan “If You Can See Her, You Can Be Her”, is a powerful testament to the value of importance of industry not only in media but on television shows and in movies. This is also true in the automotive industry where those who work as VP’s and senior executives are not always see. During their presentation the concerns about women and their feels when it comes to auto brands were discussed (see slide).
#SEEHER has worked with many companies to make sure that there was/is an accurate portrayal of women in the media an among influencers. As a woman of color, this is often true for us on two fronts: female representation and African American representation. So knowing that initiative such as #SEEHER exists is promising when it comes to accurate representation in advertising.
I am again thankful for the vision and foresight of companies like A Girls Guide to Care and Women in Automotive for organizing panels like this one and for showing other what Beyoncé told us a few years ago, “Who Run the World”? Girls!
See you at the table next year….
Be Blessed, Be Fabulous!