The topic of women in the work force is hot.
Both major U.S. presidential candidates have addressed hiring and equal pay for women during the debates and throughout the campaign.
One could argue that it’s a bid to win women’s votes, but the idea of attracting and hiring qualified women has been important to car dealers for years. Many dealers bemoan the difficulty in finding qualified women to sell or service cars.
As one dealer once told me, women just don’t want to sell cars.
And sadly, that isn’t likely to change until the industry undergoes an overhaul, one dealer, who happens to be a woman, said this week.
“Until we clean up our image, we’ll never attract the amount or kind of people we want to attract. And good luck attracting women,” said Tamara Darvish, vice president of DARCARS Automotive Group in Silver Spring, Md.
Darvish made the comments during a panel discussion on how to build a better workplace at the Automotive News’ Best Dealerships To Work For event Wednesday in Chicago.
Darvish suggested that the industry perpetuates the struggle to attract women because of embarrassing, unprofessional and sexist behavior at auto shows, races and other events.
“We have scantily clothed women at industry events,” Darvish said. “I don’t like to pack my clothes after SEMA because I feel so dirty.”
The truth is many dealers are professionals. They are entrepreneurs who work hard to please customers and run businesses that pay good wages and treat employees well.
“Most of us don’t even smoke anymore,” Darvish said. “We might still swear, but we do it in private.”
So it’s time to convey publicly that the image of car dealerships as cigar-chomping, sexist boys’ clubs patronizing women is antiquated and should be eliminated.