Walser Launches a Women’s Resource Group: Here’s Why

February 14th, 2019 by

Women of Walser GroupAt Walser Automotive Group, there are a few key philosophies we hang our hats on when it comes to doing business. In a nutshell, we pride ourselves on providing a fast, easy, and transparent car-buying process in a negotiation and commission-free environment. Boil that down even further? We are car sales people with a conscience.

And we’re good at it. In 2018, Walser sold over 35,000 new and used vehicles. We use a business concept that’s upfront and honest and a sales model that we feel good about.

Despite that profitable success, Walser committed to making a major business change in 2018.

In December, Walser launched its first-ever employee resource group (ERG). The group, called Women of Walser (WoW), is specifically focused on the growth and retention of women within Walser while working to meet the needs of the marketplaces we serve.

We know what you’re thinking. A new employee women’s group doesn’t exactly qualify as a major business change. Plus, if Walser’s previous way of doing things has been so successful, why bother changing at all? The answer is two-fold.

Here’s Part One. Studies show that ERGs focused on women create an environment of support, motivation, and social connection that generate lasting intellectual (increased optimism, lower stress levels), professional (networking opportunities), and financial (pay raises and promotions) results for participants.

As a company, data shows us that Walser loses female new hires at double the rate of male new hires in the first 90 days of employment. And Walser isn’t alone in this struggle. Other nationwide studies have also found the turnover rate among women, especially women executives, in retail and consumer goods is much higher than among men.

While the automotive industry is making strides to close the gender gap in hiring and promotions, we recognize that level of turnover will never lead to gender parity in our marketplace.

That word “marketplace” is key when it comes to understanding the second part of WoW’s inception. Part Two is all about the numbers.

In the automotive industry, we know that women hold over 80 percent of influence on a car buying decision. We also know that women make up more than half of new car buyers (and title holders) on the road. Yet, the number of female professionals in U.S. dealerships doesn’t even crack 20 percent of the workforce.

The bottom line? The automotive industry needs to do a better job of representing the people it serves. Customers want to buy vehicles from salespeople that are relatable. Thus, it is Women of Walser’s hope that a strong workforce of engaged and supported female employees fosters growth and retention internally, while better representing and supporting our customers externally.

That equation—internal employee support plus external diversity representation—is what makes Women of Walser a powerful business decision in 2019.

At their core, ERGs are employee-led groups meant to foster and grow employees in a supportive environment while increasing diversity and inclusion. We believe that there is power in connecting employees, and it’s not just about gender.

“Diversity and inclusion in our organization not only helps women, it helps the total company,” said Sherry Schultz, Walser Chief Human Resources Officer. “A company that operates with inclusion that allows you to bring your whole self to work every day is great for both men and women.”

More About Women of Walser

Women of Walser is an employee-run organization with a leadership board elected by employees. WoW is comprised of three committees including: Business Development, Personal Development and Community Outreach & Volunteerism.

Schultz spoke more about the opportunities ahead for WoW:

Schultz: I think mentorship is one of the biggest opportunities we see looking forward, plus attracting women to the organization and retaining them. So, when you look at turnover and you look at the trajectory of women as they enter the organization, at what rates do they stay and ultimately how do we grow them? That’s the opportunity. We will focus on that through mentorship and early sponsorship programs.

We’re also looking at developing strong business literacy and financial fluency for women in the organization. Being able to speak about cars, our business, plus the financials is a critical skill, so we’re going to spend some time investing in that.

The third platform is not gender-specific. It’s about how you balance what I like to call “life-life balance” instead of work-life balance. How do you do that and be very fulfilled at home with family and friends and be fulfilled at work? So, we’re going to spend some time on how we balance those areas for our employees.

Visit Women of Walser’s website for more information.

Press coverage:

Hireology (February 7, 2019): Walser Automotive Group Launches Women’s Resources Network: What Other Dealers Can Learn

National Automobile Dealers Association (January 27, 2019): 2019 #WomenInAutomotive Contest Winner

MarketWatch (November 12, 2018):  Walser Automotive Group Launches First-Ever Women’s Resource Network