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What is a female friendly culture?

To develop a female friendly culture at your dealership, it’s necessary to think beyond elevating the standards of customer care.

Here at Ask Patty, we talk about being female friendly a lot, and for good reason. We made our reputation on helping car dealers, service centers, tire dealers, collision centers, and quick lubes become Certified female friendly, complete with training on how they could develop their own female friendly culture.

However, one question that we get asked from time to time is: “Just what is female friendly culture?” And the answer is… well, complicated, and the answer is also a moving target, evolving over time as attitudes and ideas change. Today, we’re going to do our best to walk you through just what we mean when we say “female friendly culture.”

Much of our training deals with the topic of dealing with women customers one-on-one: honesty, transparency, and listening skills are key. However, those are female friendly sales methods – a part of a female friendly culture for sure, but not a female friendly culture in and of themselves. To develop a female friendly culture, it’s necessary to think beyond elevating the standards of customer care, and think about what kind of business you are, and what kind of workplace you offer your staff.

Female friendly culture is not pink

Perhaps the best place to start is what isn’t a female friendly culture. Obviously, the stereotypical “grease monkey” atmosphere, pinup posters, and shady negotiation tactics aren’t female friendly – but let’s talk about a more subtle idea: Pink-washing isn’t female friendly. Using the color pink or stereotypically “feminine” motifs like bows, hearts, etc. in your advertising isn’t creating a female friendly culture. Some women like pink, but women like other colors, too – washing everything in pink can feel condescending and less-than-genuine.

Female friendly culture is inclusive and diverse

When we say “female friendly” some people think we encourage catering to women to the point of exclusion of men, and that’s simply not true. A female friendly culture is safe and inclusive for women because it’s safe and inclusive for everyone. That means embracing DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion – concepts from the ground up. It means making your workplace a welcoming and safe environment for women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, the neurodiverse community, and unique individuals from all walks of life. A female friendly culture celebrates Pride month, Hispanic heritage month, and Black history month. A female friendly culture is diversity focused.

For more information on cultivating a DEI focused culture, see our free Lunch and Learn session on the topic here.

More: Representation and visibility are key to attract more women to the auto industry – Amy Phillis | Griffin Motors

Female friendly culture is people-first

Using “people-first” language is a sort of linguistic prescription that was conceptualized in order to describe people with disabilities. In a female friendly culture, embracing diversity includes embracing individuals who have disabilities – using people-first language is one way to do this. People-first language means that when talking about an individual who has a disability, the person always comes first and is not defined by their disability. Rather than saying, “Jane is epileptic,” we would say “Jane has epilepsy.” Note the difference – in the first, “epileptic” defines who Jane is, while in the second, Jane is a person in her own right, who happens to have epilepsy. People-first language describes what a person has, not who a person is.

Embracing disabilities is near and dear to the culture here at Ask Patty. Historically we have supported such causes as United Spinal, the National MS Society, and more. A part of embracing diversity means embracing disabilities, including both mental and physical ailments, that impact the lives of so many people.

Female friendly culture is community-driven

Every business is a part of a community. It’s easy for automotive businesses to settle into a “niche” of their community that only interacts with those people who require their services – the people who are shopping for a new car, looking for repairs, or need new tires. However, we believe that a female friendly Culture means embracing our role as members of the community who happen to sell, repair, or maintain vehicles. Participation in community events is an important part of developing a female friendly culture. This could include working with the local Community College to offer automotive maintenance classes, sponsoring the local baseball team, hosting green initiatives like recycling drives, and giving back by way of food drives, diaper banks, and other cause-focused initiatives.

In short, there’s much more to developing a female friendly culture than just targeting women in our marketing and advertising efforts – becoming female friendly means developing a business culture that matches the values of women. By embracing DEI, supporting people with disabilities, and becoming a positive force in your local community, your business culture will resonate with women, and with everyone else, too.

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Jody DeVere
Jody DeVere
Jody DeVere is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, spokesperson for the automotive industry, and CEO of Ask Patty, a publication that offers training, education, and marketing support on how dealerships and other automotive retailers can more effectively target women consumers.

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