Attitudes to gender in car selling

Car buyers continue to feel that women are under-represented in retail roles in dealerships, according to a new poll by What Car? On behalf of Car Dealer Magazine.

The poll of 3000 car buyers – 75% men and 25% women – revealed that although 90% of car buyers are happy to buy a car from a male or female sales executive, only 32% ever had bought from a female sales executive.

Just 19% of respondents felt that the genders were equally represented in car showrooms, with 78% saying that they felt that they were dominated by men. Overall, 87% of respondents said they felt more women should be encouraged to work in showrooms.

“The benefits of gender balance in creating better and more profitable working practices are widely known now, but it’s clear from our poll that car buyers feel that a huge amount more could still be done to achieve parity,” said Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car?

“Some retailers have made impressive strides towards greater diversity in recent years, but this poll highlights that it should not just be a corporate goal to improve balance; their customers – car buyers who visit our website every day – also want to see more progress.”

Shockingly, 29% of female respondents to the survey stated that they believed that car retailing was inherently sexist, and 13% of men agreed.

Examples cited ranged from the prominence of men in advertising materials and a tendency for staff to address the man when a couple enter the premises, through to the attitudes of male workers, especially in regards to having pictures depicting cars and under-dressed women on display in workshops. Some women also believed they were offered worse financial deals on cars as a result of their gender.

“These figures highlight that car buying – and especially entering a retail premises – can still be unnecessarily intimidating, especially for women,” added Holder. “Some of the examples highlighted would be the work of moments to change, while others, and most notably the perception that some salespeople are willing to charge women more because they don’t think they understand the retail process, should be consigned to history immediately.

“Nobody in the industry should be comfortable with the statistic that nearly a third of female respondents believe it is inherently sexist.”

In the UK 46% of driving licences are held by women.

Daksh Gupta, Group CEO of Marshall Motor Holding, told Car Dealer: “This is a topic that’s really close to my heart, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because there’s real tangible benefits for our business.

“The survey results are unsurprising but many retailers are making great strides.

“At Marshall we have been working on our diversity and inclusion agenda for at least six years now as we recognised the business benefits this brings for all, our customers, our colleagues and shareholders.”