Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
Are You a CarDoll Hater?
First of all, let me make a statement in regards to vested interests and financial motivations: Neither I, nor any of my business partners or affiliated companies receive any payment, advertising funds, or in any way benefit from the success or failure of "The CarDoll". The same holds true for Jamie Lynn's husband (Ted Ing) and his businesses, or any of their other business interests.
I respect the right of each and every ADM Professional Community member to express their opinion, and if you disagree with me, I will usually promote your post! Last Wednesday, Larry Bruce paid me a compliment in Houston when he said to an ADM member who was complaining about "The CarDoll" to me:
"One thing about Ralph, I have posted many articles and statements that he vehemently disagrees with, but I have never seen him delete or moderate somebody for having an opinion different from his..."
(or something like that - sorry Larry if I got that wrong) I am deeply optimistic that a few of you reading this, who disagree with me, may understand that people who are friends can have differing opinions on such matters. I simply feel, in my heart, that to attack someone for the way they dress, or their personal mannerisms is wrong...
Long before certain individuals started talking about punching a young woman in the face for wearing a short dress in an automotive training video, I despised bigotry, racism, prejudice against people who look and/or act differently, along with the intolerant and at times violent behaviors that go with such hateful principles... Such as judging people by their appearance or ostracizing a person because of their looks. Threatening a young person with harm or rallying and influencing others to adopt the same negative attitude and hatreds towards appearance that is outside what somebody has deemed acceptable.
That is probably why I tend to defend the rights of gays, lesbians, people of color, those shorter than me, taller than me, darker than me, lighter than me, or even those stupid car salesmen that don't wear ties to sales meetings! Heck, I am even so far out of the norm that I have willfully, gladly and with a positive attitude sold cars to strippers, porn stars, sluts and the whores that cheat on their husbands (the reverse are the manly men who cheat on their wives).
I have actually accepted payments from people wearing bikinis and short-shorts who wanted to buy a car... Worse yet, I have sold vehicles to many of the undocumented immigrants here in Arizona who get gouged on their payroll taxes, then never file a return to get a refund of their over-payments, but who needed a car to get back and forth from that same job.
One of the best characteristics about the car business (in my opinion) is how, for the most part, we do not act prejudicial, regardless of a customer's appearance... As long as they have the means or credit rating to buy a car.
I have seen restaurants and bars refuse to serve people who look different than their usual clientele, but am proud to say, and thank the Lord that in MY CHOSEN INDUSTRY, I have not yet seen a customer kicked out of a dealership for their appearance, or even something as offensive as too much cleavage or a skirt that is too short.
Maybe my support for The CarDoll (Jamie Lynn Ing) is misplaced, but try to take a look at it through my eyes... Because, I look at the situation this way - I was raised during a time in American culture when many of us were taught that if you don't have anything good to say about somebody, then you don't say anything at all... Those that know me, also know that i have on many occasions violated this principle when a company or person does something i feel egregious enough to speak out about... Such as fraud, charging for a product or service that does not perform as promised, etc. However, in this situation it seems to me that for ANYBODY to put a lot of effort into criticizing and personally attacking a community member in the social media space based on personal appearance is just plain wrong... This is how bullying and some of the related suicides we see in various news reports have occurred.
I had the unforgettable misfortune of witnessing deadly homophobic mob violence in Buffalo New York (outside of a Hertel Ave. bar), when I was 21 years old... The victim was guilty of dressing inappropriately, revealing his sexual orientation in the wrong place at the wrong time. At that moment, maybe I was in shock, I vowed to NEVER become a "hater" and to accept people who were different from me as individuals. Because we are fortunate enough to live in the United States, we are living in what most of us would like to describe as a free country... I was so radicalized by my traumatic experience that I am now foolish enough to believe that if a woman so chooses, she is entitled to wear short dresses, or even show off her cleavage if she wants to. If you find that concept shocking, you better move to Saudi Arabia... Or at least stay away from most Phoenix are dealership Finance Departments.
Now, with that said, I am quite comfortable with informing those that report to me in a work situation that clothing is either appropriate for our workplace, or it is not. I also understand that if the people working in a business are not dressed in a manner that meets the approval of some people, that that business may lose those people as customers. In fact, as incredible as some may find this to be about my background, I once escorted a high ranking Honda executive OUT of a party at NADA because of the scantily clad women who had been hired to mingle with the crowd at the party... (but Ralph, that doesn't happen in the car business!)
But guess what I did not do? I did not insult, assault or even pass judgement on the people who chose to stay at the party, nor did I slap any of the women or "punch them in the face"... as somebody has posted, describing what they want to do to Jamie Lynn (aka CarDoll).
I do not have to become a CarDoll customer, I am not now, nor do I intend to become one... neither do you or anyone else. Quite honestly, her appearance and mannerisms make me somewhat uncomfortable, but for those that enjoy her style of training and communication, more power to you... Vive le Différence!
What ever happened to simply posting a comment expressing a strong negative opinion? Trying to organize a public lynching of anyone for the reasons people are attacking Jamie Lynn (the CarDoll) is far too close to the sentiments that create Lynch Mobs and emboldens those that burn crosses on people's front lawns for my own morality and sense of right and wrong to accept.
How many of the CarDoll's detractors have communicated directly with her and attempted to coach her? I have... Have her other critics? Because, yes... I am a critic and Jamie Lynn and Ted Ing both know it.
If we deem ourselves enlightened, forward thinking "Thought Leaders", then we should refuse to accept "Hate Behavior", or any other form of online or offline bullying and appearance-based judgmental rejection... Where does it end? Are Burqas the next female clothing requirement in the auto industry?
Make no mistake, the way people have expressed a desire to physically abuse Jamie Lynn, to "Punch her in the face" is fueled by the same types of hatred and misogynistic motivations as when a group of Afghan men stone a young woman to death for exposing her face in public... Or, when an Indian girl is gang raped to death and the perpetrators say she had it coming. For those of you spewing hatred and intolerance for Jamie Lynn's appearance.... Osama Bin Laden has 76 virgins for you too.
Every single person in my life who is closely related to me, my daughters, granddaughters, my wife and many of my best friends, are women... I admire and respect women in general. I am thankful that my daughters and granddaughters were born in a country that protects a woman's rights, more so than many other countries (although not as much as several). I am not willing to be neutral or silent about judging any woman solely by her appearance, or the clothing she chooses to wear... Whether it is because she is a devout Moslem, choosing to wear a Burqa, or a Philadelphia news reporter wearing a dress that is too short by Amish standards; either way, such appearance based rushes to judgement and the inflexible standards implied seem wrong to me.
Regardless of the clothing Jamie Lynn (CarDoll) wears or even the way she displays an attitude that seems remarkably similar to what I see so many men expressing in public settings, and then being admired by their peers, and rewarded for, there is something fundamentally wrong with hating her, or attacking her for it.
I find the whole CarDoll bashing thing to be a disgusting example of intolerance and "socially acceptable" prejudice. These are people motivated by opinions far too similar to what drives violence against women, or result in a gay man tied to a fence in Wyoming, then beaten to death. I am ashamed of the people I know who are so eager to hate a woman who dares to act like the TV commercials used to sell cars, or for saying the same things that men are applauded and revered for.
As a whole, this world could use a little more love, and a lot less hate...
Keith, we are friends and I'm sorry you felt personally offended by a comment about censorship. It obviously means different things to each of us. I was not talking about government censorship or 1st Amendment rights. I was talking about mob censorship in the sense that Ralph did in the post. That is censorship through threats (punching in the face) and intimidation and personal attacks.
I also feel that friends can disagree and remain friends. I saw in Facebook that you and Micah aren't sure about that. I haven't personally seen any of Cardoll's videos or other advertisements. I did look at her profile here on ADM. To be honest, I'm more interested in the reaction to Cardoll than in Cardoll. Hmmmm...
Then why did my posts, clear as a bell on their 1st amendment rights AND on me not supporting any personal attacks, render that reaction and mention of censorship? I've certainly advocated exactly the opposite of the description of censorship you lay out here, so I will always wonder what brought that in for you to me. Even more opposite, if that's possible, of what I've advocated. However, to move on...
I'm not sure what the comment I made to Micah has to do with this, but anyone lives long enough they'll see disagreement end friendships. I'm not on that page, but I have seen it. In many cases on social media, in fact, the disagreement is clear, the result is clear, and then the "high school" gene can kick in and cause folks to become very childish. And friendships end.
Anyway, yes, we are friends! :)
Thank you Ralph for seeking a legal opinion on this. I'm anxious to hear their take.
A few thoughts of my own...
Harassment between a supervisor/subordinate is often "Quid Pro Quo" harassment and doesn't seem to be as common as it used to be, probably because of better supervisor training. The dealership cases I've followed over the last several years (and there are quite a few) are mainly "Hostile Work Environment" claims. Many of these are not only sexual harassment, but racial, national origin, age, etc.
Hostile work environment harassment can involve supervisors, co-workers, or even a non-employees such as vendors, customers or third parties. Per EEOC guidelines, the "victim" does not have to be a person who is harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Because car dealers have traditionally been such a ripe target for EEOC enforcement actions, I think this is certainly an area that shouldn't be ignored...you just never know.
Thanks again Ralph for looking into this further.
The initial response from legal counsel was basically, "I do not see any actionable cause from what you are describing". So I played devil's advocate and described ways that may be construed as creating a hostile work environment, etc. The bottom line is that using The CarDoll's approach in marketing her services is not exactly the same as her educational components. Like I stated, I will keep pushing counsel to find something that can be identified as risk to the dealer, but his initial response was that unless there is more to it than the promotional content, there appears to be little risk at first glance.
Let me also add that throwing up the specter of legal action is a blocking technique i saw used at Reynolds and Reynolds, as well as ADP Dealer Services when people did not like an approach and could not justify blocking it with business model reasons. For example, when i first introduced Digital Advertising to the ADP Dealer Services executive team, after we got beyond "ADP is not going to get into that type of business, it is too sleazy..." The next objection was that it would create too much legal liability. The response I received about CarDoll is similar to the response I got from ADP Legal about liability created from placing dealership ads that may contain objectionable content.
As with most issues regarding workplace liability for an employer, if it does not involve prejudicial hiring processes or the use of power, position, intimidation, promotions to manipulate and control people... And, as long as employees have a means to express "I find that offensive or objectionable" and management takes action, the courts are not going to get into judgements around what is in good or bad "taste".
That makes sense. In the legal sense anyways. It doesnt change my opinion, but for the workplace legal matter, it makes sense. Thanks for asking.
After pushing legal counsel to define an area of risk, here is the first risk identified... If any employee objects to the trainer's clothing or style of dress as being inappropriate for their workplace, and that is makes them feel uncomfortable, if the employer does not excuse that employee from those training sessions, this could be deemed adequate harassment to create actionable cause. However, the employee must first specifically complain to a supervisor about the trainer's clothing and the supervisor would have to ignore those complaints and not take any action to resolve the issue. Additionally, the clothing being objected to would need to be far enough out of the styles that employee is exposed to in other aspects of their job so as not to be deemed an "excuse to avoid training". The bottom line, such an expression of discomfort would have to be true as evidenced by the actual clothing being worn by the trainer. For example, if a trainer was wearing a bikini and no customers or employees of the dealership ever wore bikinis, then the complaint fell on deaf ears and the employee was ordered to attend the training class led by a bikini clad trainer, there may be actionable cause.
The other causes of action besides a trainer's clothing would be centered around objectionable behavior that an employee complains to a supervisor about and no remedial action is taken. The key item being the employee must first make it known that they are uncomfortable, then the company would have to not take an appropriate action.
As long as the trainer is not an actual dealership employee with supervisory authority, then the burden falls on the employee to complain to their actual supervisor that something is making them uncomfortable. These are similar concepts to what is required to prove harassment as when it occurs from a customer or any other supplier. If the trainer is hired by the dealership as an employee, then placed in a supervisory role with other employees reporting to him or her, the issues around harassment become a little more complex.
The other issues to consider are time exposed to the source of objectionable activity... The longer the time, such as weekly or daily training sessions over the course of the year, the greater the likelihood of actionable cause. The example given; if an employee attends a conference as part of their work assignment and one of the speakers acts or behaves in an objectionable manner that makes the employee uncomfortable, if that employee can, and does not, get up and leave the session then the burden of not having taken remedial action actually becomes the responsibility of the employee.
Thank you Ralph. I spoke with an attorney friend of mine who has been practicing labor law in California for 25 years. Her assessment is basically the same as your counsel's. She also cautioned that employers should be very careful about knowingly allowing anything into the workplace that could potentially be perceived as objectionable by employees. Her opinion is that whether or not a hostile work environment claim has legal merit, it creates an unnecessary distraction and can potentially affect staff morale. In addition, she feels that there is the danger that supervisors could easily "drop the ball" and fail to handle the complaint properly, thus creating liability. She used the classic example of technicians hanging risque tool company calendars in their work area. While it may seem innocuous and silly to most people, it just makes sense to avoid potential problems.
THANK YOU JIM AND RALPH!!!
I believe there is a big difference between workplace activities, and the activities that happen offsite via suppliers. There is also a big difference between words spoken and actions taken by supervisors versus suppliers. While working at Reynolds and Reynolds we went through extensive "avoiding workplace harassment claims" training that was facilitated by attorneys hired for the training sessions. We were taught the differences between outside trainers (us) and the management team at the dealership. Most of the issues revolved around things like what to do when a dealership employee reports harassment or hostile work conditions to us, as Reynolds Consultants, and the implications of the confidentiality agreements included in our consulting agreements. For example, if I am an independent consultant working for a dealership under contract, and a dealership employee reports harassment to me, being caused by another outside trainer, then my best course of action is to escort the employee to the proper management team member and introduce the topic and the employee, then excuse myself from any further involvement.
In all such matters, the courts have consistently upheld the obligation of each employee to report objectionable materials, hostile work conditions or harassment to appropriate management or HR channels. No employer has been held responsible for either predicting individual employee sensitivities or reading their minds, they must speak up. That said, there is an obligation for every employer with more than 50 employees to provide "appropriate channels" such as designated HR managers or a senior manager. Employees must be able to report issues to someone other than direct supervisors in the case where the direct supervisor is the source of harassment. In the case of "The CarDoll" I simply do not see any dealer putting Jamie Lynn in a supervisory capacity and her training videos, regardless of whether they contain valid instructional curriculum or not, are simply not nearly as sexually charged as her promotional clips, which are not used for training purposes. As long as an employee can say "T don't like this" and turn it off, and it is not "Mandatory Training", then it is the employee's obligation to either report the material as offensive or simply turn it off.
All that said, I have seen plenty of TV shows and movies sponsored by dealers and car companies that are a heck of a lot more likely to offend certain people sensitive to such things than anything the CarDoll has produced!
Manny, thank you for being the voice of reason... Personally, I think if there was a campaign to be waged it would be against the root causes of why such tactics seem to be effective and not against the practitioners of such.
This is my opinion as a woman who feels she's done some time in this industry to say the following.
In my humble opinion, there are many more women in this industry than ever before. I have seen it grow in the few years I have been a part of this incredible industry. The thing that bothers me has nothing to do with her physical appearance or what she wears. The hate is wrong, but to compare that to burkas and lynching is a bit extreme. I haven't personally seen "punch her in the face", but if that was said... it is wrong! What she chooses to do is her business. If she were my sister, I'd probably have different personal conversations with her. HOWEVER
As a woman in this industry, I find myself completely angered, turned-off, and insulted by the business model. I feel women in this industry (and there have been so many) that try to change the culture one dealer principal, one sales person or even one salesforce at a time.
Have there been issues of sexual-harassment in dealerships? Sure. Have each of us witnessed things being said to women or about women that shouldnt be said at a dealership? Absolutely! But isn't that what we're working towards? Changing and bettering the way we do business? All this talk about "zero moment of truth", humanizing the business, changing the way we talk to customers... is great, but in all of the places I have worked it has always been a priority to change antiquated behaviors of any salespeople who don't understand that the industry and people (both purchasing vehicles and those within the industry itself) have changed. Changing the culture is so extremely important when we talk to customers, why not when we talk to each other? I'm no feminist, you can ask anyone in this industry who has taken the time to get to know me. I am generally reserved and quiet, but this topic needs some attention.I walk into dealerships knowing that I have to have thick skin and learn to be one of the guys, but with the goal that they learn by example and learn to respect women they work WITH because it always translates to the women they sell TO.
I don't have a problem with Jamie Lynn. But I DO have a problem with Cardoll for many reasons. It feels like we're moving backwards and what people like me have so worked so hard for doesn't matter. It feels like we make excuses because things have been done a certain way for awhile and so its OK for this to happen. Would you be satisfied with any other industry (medical, law, education, etc) just doing the same things or making excuses because thats how we've been doing it? We adapt, we change, we move on. We need people to speak up about treating women in this industry with the respect that we deserve damnit!
I hope that people know better than to train their salespeople with this kind of training. Do I think she has some valid points? Sure. Do I think there are people in this industry that will do a better job of training your people correctly? Sure! Do I hate Cardoll? Not at all. It is an interesting concept, I just wish it were done differently. I don't agree with ANY of it, but it can still be done in a more respectful manner. And Ralph made a great point, he doesn't agree with the business model and has tried to reach out. I admire that and maybe I'll do the same, but personal attacks should be out of the question.
To assume that everyone in this industry training to be a salesperson would enjoy that and not get insulted is ignorant. And to assume that everyone disagreeing with Cardoll is hateful or jealous is also completely inaccurate. Most of the comments I have read seem to be more angered by the business than the person, it is difficult because in this case they are one in the same, but we should also allow those people to speak up with their disagreements about cardoll. Jamie Lynn should be out of the question... Just don't be so hateful people!
I'm sure this will cost me some personal attacks , but at some point a woman had to speak up.