Lyft is rolling out an exciting new feature that women and non-binary drivers and passengers can opt into on a case-by-case basis. It’s called Women+ Connect. The main focus is to create better connections between drivers and passengers, creating a more comfortable environment for all involved.
As a former female Lyft driver and a female passenger, I know I have had passengers who have shown appreciation when they found out I was a female driver. I have also never had an unsafe feeling with women as my passengers, but I have felt unsafe with a couple of males in my personal experience…to the point of reporting them and never having to deal with them again.
Women+ Connect Launches In Select Cities
First launching in San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Phoenix, San Jose, and more, Women+ Connect matches women and nonbinary drivers with more women and nonbinary riders. Statistically speaking, about 50% of the passengers on Lyft’s platform are women, but only about 23% of drivers are women.
As of February 13, 2024, Women+ Connect is expanding to include New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami, Las Vegas, Dallas, and more.
With this added feature, Lyft is hoping to encourage more women to become drivers. According to their press release:
“This highly requested feature offers more control over the driving experience for women and nonbinary people, allowing them to feel that much more confident. And with fewer barriers to driving, more women can access flexible earning opportunities — whether they’re driving to build a business, support their family, or simply to enjoy earning good money while meeting great people.”
In my experience, I used Lyft as a crutch when I was suddenly out of a job, and then as supplemental income so I could do more than just get by in my life. It was an incredible opportunity and only took me a couple of days to fully get set up with the platform. I couldn’t have found any full-time job that quickly and easily.
While this new feature is exciting, Lyft points out that it is not a guarantee that women and non-binary people who opt-in will receive a woman or non-binary driver/passenger. You simply go into the app to state your preference, but it is not a guarantee. The app will prioritize your preference. The more women that join the platform, the more likely it will be that their preference will be the norm.
Within the app, choose Women+ Connect to set your preferences. You can change this at any time. Whatever you are feeling in the moment is what you put for your preference in the app.
Some may want to have this preference on for night-time driving so they only pair with women or nin-binary during that time period, but be open to all options during the day, or vice versa.
Exclusive Interview With Jody Kelman
For this article, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jody Kelman, Executive Vice President of Customers at Lyft. Her excitement for this feature is contagious. In her words:
“I want Lyft to be part of improving people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. I want to get back to that core of humanity and listening to what customers want.”
In Kelman’s mind, drivers and passengers are Lyft’s customers. They want to listen to all sides and give a better experience for everyone involved.
She also stated:
“We have to start making the experience better for women drivers so that we can get more women drivers onto our platform and improve the experience for everyone.”
Kelman truly believes that more women drivers, encouraged by this Women+ Connect feature, will improve the platform for everyone, men, women, non-binary, everyone. The focus in creating this feature was inclusivity and safety.
Lyft worked with the Human Rights Campaign, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and The National Association of Women Law Enforcement in the development of this feature.
There are always going to be naysayers who think this is some form of discrimination. But to that, Kelman said:
“Building a better rideshare platform for women is actually a way to improve the experiences of all of our riders and drivers. We know that more drivers on the platform builds better service levels, builds quicker arrivals for everyone. So, we think we’re raising the water level here of Lyft. I will also say, it is the right thing to do for women and non-binary drivers and riders, and frankly, doing the right thing has to come first, always.”
Initial Success of the Feature
As of February 2024, more than half of eligible drivers are opted into Women+ Connect. These drivers keep the feature on for 99% of their driving time on average. In addition, the satisfaction rate for drivers among drivers who have opted into Women+ Connect is the highest of any driver feature Lyft has launched to date.
Due to this initial success of the program, Lyft decided to expand the program across the nation to include drivers and passengers in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami, Las Vegas, Dallas, and more.
Controversy Behind this Feature
Our readers took to the comments on the original article to showcase their distaste for the implementation of this feature. One issue I had anticipated, and that was discrimination. When drivers are told their passengers can’t choose them every time and are told it’s due to the possibility of it being discriminatory, it’s only natural to question this feature due to its seeming discriminatory nature.
All I can really say is what Kelmen originally said yet again. I will not repeat it here, just scroll up to her quote about building a better platform.
A handful of other commenters went a more condescending route in saying they could just pretend to be a woman or nonbinary in order to get this feature for themselves. One responder pointed out, “You’d better get ready to shell out some cash to change your name and gender marker on your Driver’s license, not to mention your social security card and birth certificate. You’d need to get your registration and insurance in your new name as well. Depending on where you live, you might also have to go on hormones or have a surgery or two to get some of those documents changed.”
It’s not as easy as it seems to “pretend” to be a woman or nonbinary. All things are documented in some way, shape or form. And with the background checks done by Lyft, I would hope that someone who would be trying to do something like this would have done something just as felonious in the past and would not be allowed on the platform upon its discovery.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you agree with this feature? Or is it discrimination? We’d love to hear what you truly think.
Lyft Partners With ADT
To go along with this rollout, Lyft has also been working with ADT to improve the driver experience regarding safety. The new beta feature ADT and Lyft are piloting together will allow drivers to connect with a live ADT agent via a one-way video call.
For privacy reasons, ADT is the controller of the videos. The agent can then have more context about the situation, provide help with the situation, and dispatch emergency help (police, fire department, medical).
The goal of this feature is to bring peace of mind to drivers and is being piloted in select markets across the U.S., expanded to more in February 2024 due to its successful first run.
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