Christine Scott, 37
Senior attorney, Group 1 Automotive
As corporate lawyer Christine Scott traveled to Group 1 Automotive Inc.’s U.S. dealerships, she began to notice that high-ranking female leaders within the company had little chance to interact with each other, even as their ranks were growing.
“You can have a general manager that hasn’t really had the opportunity to meet other female GMs, or sales managers, because there might be one woman in each position in that state or in that region,” said Scott, who handles Group 1’s nearly $1 billion in real estate assets.
So Scott decided to do something about it, launching a companywide women’s initiative this year to help support and promote diversity in the male-dominated business of auto retailing.
“It’s really to support the existing employees we have [with] professional development, peer-group networking, education, leadership training, diversity and bias training,” Scott said. “And how do we recruit new talent, as well?”
Though Group 1’s senior management team has no women on it, the company’s leaders have fully embraced the initiative, Scott said. “There was really zero pushback,” she said.
After all, the initiative’s goals are in line with Group 1’s goals and are “really just a larger extension of the company’s core values,” Scott said.
The initiative ramped up with companywide kickoff luncheons that coincided with International Women’s Day in March. Then the coronavirus pandemic took hold. “It was really unfortunate timing in terms of COVID,” Scott said. But the goals remain in place, and the initiative continues to move forward, if at a social distance for the time being.
A next step will be bias training, especially important given the protests and civil unrest happening in the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. “Ultimately, given the current climate, we’re probably going to extend this to a greater diversity initiative as well,” Scott said.
In the meantime, Scott has gotten the ball rolling for Group 1, ranked No. 4 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. Complacency, after all, is not a good excuse, she said.
“If you see something or a deficiency, don’t complain about it — try and make changes,” she said. “Everyone has agency. And you’d be surprised at how willing people are to work with you and to be supportive.”
— David Muller