According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make up about 47 percent of the American workforce. At the same time, we remain vastly underrepresented in many industries, including the automotive field.
Closing the talent gap and modernizing an industry where female representation in automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores stands at just 19 percent is an exciting challenge. It’s one of the many reasons I joined Advance Auto Parts three years ago. From my experience, Advance is a place where Team Members care about what they do, have a passion for taking care of customers and have incredible industry knowledge.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen, and I am thrilled to be part of a company that values inclusion and diversity. As we reported in our most recent Advance Auto Parts Corporate Sustainability and Social Report, we’ve increased representation of females and people of color in leadership roles to 40 percent. This includes an increase in our Executive Committee from 25 percent to nearly 55 percent and an increase among our field-based store operations leadership from 29 percent to nearly 42 percent. While I’m proud of the progress we have made, I know there is more work to do.
Here are my thoughts on how we can get even more women behind the wheel, regardless of the industry.
- Commit to a clear vision. At Advance, our Executive Leadership Team is committed to building an inclusive workforce, and understands increased representation of women leads to better business outcomes. We’ve worked closely to define a set of Cultural Beliefs that guide the organization, among them Champion Inclusion, which asks every Team Member to embrace diversity of people, thoughts, skills, and styles to deliver results. We reinforce, recognize and reward these behaviors every day.
- Make men and women part of the journey. Provide a forum where women feel safe sharing with other women and men the challenges they face and the ways they are overcoming obstacles to be successful. I have been fortunate to have both male and female mentors in my career and would recommend that you seek out these relationships as well. At Advance, we also foster this type of open communication through our Advance Women in Motion Network (WIMN). WIMN is one of nine Team Members Networks at Advance that allow Team Members from similar backgrounds and experiences to come together with a common goal. Membership in WIMN continues to increase year over year, which I view as a reflection of its appeal and effectiveness.
- Drive diversity at every level. Many focus on increasing female representation at the most senior levels of an organization, and while that’s important, women tend to be underrepresented at all levels and in every job function. Women bring different work styles and ways of getting things done and this diversity benefits every part of an organization.
- Celebrate achievements. Recognizing a job well done helps Team Members feel valued and engaged. At Advance, there are several ways we recognize Team Members for their service and impact on our business. For example, programs like Fuel the Frontline and Be An Owner recognize top performers by awarding stock grants. Our Spark program provides Team Members the ability to give “Shout Outs” to colleagues who are living our Cultural Beliefs – including Champion Inclusion, and delivering great work.
- Provide opportunities to advance and grow. Investing in employees helps them develop and grow in their careers as well as drive retention. At Advance, we provide ongoing learning opportunities for all Team Members focused on operational excellence and leadership expertise. This includes automotive systems training; parts, products and brand knowledge; store operations and systems knowledge; and leadership and management skills.
To be successful, we must bake in inclusion and diversity as part of our underlying strategy versus a voluntary activity. I’d love to hear ways you’re championing inclusion and engaging your team members in your workplaces.
EVP, CHRO at Advance Auto Parts
Advance Auto Parts creates opportunities for women in an inclusive environment. One example of this is through our best in class Women in Motion Network (WIMN). In addition to having an extensive support network of both men and women, WIMN is involved in community volunteer activities, health and [...]