Thursday, April 23, 2015

(Editor's Reflection) Dimming The Headlights: One Of The Most Power Women In The Auto Industry

Approximately 10 years ago, I had an opportunity to interview one of the most powerful women in the auto industry,Sheila-Vaden Williams, a black Harvard trained lawyer. Vaden-Williams led the National Association of Minority Auto Dealers from 2001 to 2006. So far, Vaden-Williams has been the only female to lead the organization.
At the time Vaden-Williams was steering the organization, she was instrumental in strongly encouraging each automaker to strive for the 15 percent rule. Each automaker was encouraged to have 15 percent of new car dealerships to be owned by minorities to closely mirror America. Both Chrysler and the Audi were severely unrepresented at the time, as were most import automakers. They were two of the initial automakers who agreed to 15 percent rule. 

If the automakers weren't willing to come to the table, they knew there was a chance of a public boycott. Many of her critics didn't like her in your face approach, but she definitely shined the spotlight on inequities in the auto industry, forcing the automakers to take action. Because of her actions, a number of minorities increased their earning power, as a result of owning a dealership. Vaden-Williams could be labeled as the Sojourner Truth of the auto industry or better yet, the Harriett Tubaman. 
Vaden-Williams died Sunday at the age of 55.
Vaden-Williams worked with me on a pilot radio project, providing me with an extensive two-part engaging and informative interview. At some point, my plans are to release the interview. Its still relevant today, even as we will deal with a different issue as it relates to the inadequate representation of black- owned dealerships (post recession).


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