In 2020, women earned an average of $90,600 to men’s $120,400, which is $29,800 less. In 2021, women earned $97,300 to men’s $129,900, a $32,600 difference. And in 2022, women earned $102,400 while men earned $138,300, a $35,900 difference.
“Female representation and pay equity have been a focus of automotive leaders for the better part of the last decade, and there’s no doubt we’ve seen some improvement,” said Christopher Nabeta, executive chairman of Accelerate Auto, an advocacy group working to counter race and gender discrimination in the industry.
“But the results aren’t perfect, and the data doesn’t lie. A lot more still needs to be done.”
Michael Crosby, dealer principal at Crosby Automotive Group in Kitchener, Ont., said part of the disparity is that women remain under-represented in some of the highest paying jobs in dealerships — sales, service adviser and general manager — and the industry needs to do more work filling those roles with women.
“While more women are being employed at automotive dealerships [than] in the past, I think there still tends to be strong gender lines or gaps within individual positions,” said Crosby, whose dealership group owns Audi Kitchener-Waterloo, Listowel Honda and Crosby Volkswagen.
“For example, women tend to be more present in administrative or part-time roles and absent from roles like technicians, which is something like 99-per-cent filled by men.
“When you take the pay ranges for these positions into account, you can see how the disparity overall is present.”
Crosby’s assertion is supported, in part, by statistics on commissions by gender, with women reporting an average of 26 per cent of their compensation coming from commissions and men 33.3 per cent.
Among 456 survey respondents, 86 per cent were men, 12 per cent women and two per cent chose not to disclose gender. None identified as nonbinary or transgender.
The survey did not break out or compare the salaries of men and women in the same roles.
A challenge across the auto industry as well as for dealerships is attracting underrepresented groups — gender or race — into good-paying jobs, Nabeta said.
“The best way to close this gap is for the industry to get out in these communities, listen to the experiences of those who aren’t within their walls and make a concerted effort to target recruitment efforts.”
Challenging long-held misconceptions about jobs in automotive retailing and marketing dealership positions specifically to women is key to closing the gender gap, said Crosby, whose dealerships appeared on Automotive News Canada’s 2022 list of Best Dealerships To Work For.
On his group’s website, Crosby’s management team has four men and four women.
“Overall, we need to do a better job collectively making dealerships seen as being attractive employers and a lot of that comes down to breaking down old stereotypes,” Crosby said. “Certainly, we need to make sure that women are aware of these roles and opportunities and that they would be welcomed and supported.”
GENERALLY, STAFF LIKE THEIR JOBS
Of all survey respondents, 83 per cent said they were proud to work for their companies; 82 per cent said a good corporate culture keeps them at their jobs; and 78 per cent said that on most days they’re eager to come to work.
However, 48 per cent reported actively seeking new positions and 47 per cent reported a high turnover rate at their employers.
High salaries can be a tool used to attract a variety of individuals, Crosby said.
“People also don’t realize the earning potential of roles at dealerships overall,” he said. “Those two figures [$102,400 for women in 2022 and $138,300 for men] would surprise the general public.”
Nabeta said the goal of organizations such as Accelerate Auto is to stop needing to have these conversations.
“As we continue to work collectively toward solving this problem,” he said, “seeing equal representation at the senior level should no longer be a dream but a sustainable business practice in Canadian automotive.”