Cheryl offers: Have you heard the news that Mr. Goodwrench, the hunky guy in blue, but never dirty overalls who supposedly could fix anything on a GM car is retiring? He’s not that old either since he started his career in 1974. However, if he was about 30 when he started that would make him 66, so maybe it’s about time he got a rest. It seems GM has opted for a more gender neutral brand strategy by using the term “Certified” in front of their 4 major brands: Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. I think this is a pretty smart marketing move on their part. With women making the decisions on over 65% of the major household expenditures, it would seem that appealing to their wants and needs through language is a good idea. And let’s face it; most of the times I’ve taken my car to a dealership, the result certainly fell into the category of major household expense. Somehow being “certified” sounds more professional, implies more training, deeper expertise, and possibly there’s even a test at the end to ensure some level of proficiency. In the book, Women Want More by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, the authors clearly define areas where women’s wants and needs are not being met. I’m celebrating this change not only because GM might be making moves to meet some of those needs, but also because one more male brand association has been traded for a more inclusive gender neutral term. And that’s important for another reason. In today’s world, many of the men working do not look like Mr. Goodwrench. They are Latino, Asian, African American, on and on. This is not just a good move; it’s a great move towards inclusiveness that more accurately reflects our world. Thanks GM!
Cheryl offers: I consider myself a pretty savvy business woman. I’ve read a lot of books, have an EMBA from SMU, had a great career at IBM, on and on. I have lots of reasons to tell myself so. And yet, with all the information I’ve read and know about women in the workplace, I find myself committing some of the very behaviors I advocate women release to make themselves more powerful. Take yesterday for example. I am in downtown Dallas at a busy street corner during lunch. As I approach the corner and start to cross the street, a young man approaches from a different direction and wants to cross to a different corner than I do. We do the imaginary “dance” of positioning to sort out our intentions without really speaking. As we “dance” he says “Excuse me” and I respond with “I’m sorry,” Whoa! I realize a few seconds later I’ve just committed one of those behaviors Gail Evans warns all women about in her book Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. Evans claims women’s apologizing with “I’m sorry” is a “female addiction”; that sorry is a sorry word for us to use. Women need to drop all the apologies because in a business environment, a man hearing them infers a mistake has been made and it’s the woman’s because she apologized. This is one of those subtle ways we undermine our power and future opportunities. I’m beginning to think she’s right and I’m working on retraining my brain and tongue. Oh, I’m sorry, did I offend anyone?