The streets have spoken, and Lyft is answering. With the introduction of its new feature, “Women+ Connect,” the ride-hailing giant is addressing the concerns of many riders and making a bold statement: they are listening.
Enhancing Safety and Comfort
In a candid blog post unveiled on Tuesday, Lyft described its new feature as one that was “highly requested.”
“Women+ Connect” attempts to make rides safer and more comfortable for women and non-binary riders.
The premise is seemingly simple: let riders match with drivers of the same gender.
This move, Lyft believes, will make many in their user base “feel that much more confident” when they get into the back seat of a Lyft car.
Encouraging Gender Balance
But there’s more to it than safety. Lyft is also sounding the horns of opportunity. By offering this feature, they hope to entice more women to get into the driver’s seat and tap into “flexible earning opportunities.”
Considering that only 23% of its drivers are women, despite them making up “nearly half” of its riders, this feature might be the nudge needed to even out the scales.
The road to implementing “Women+ Connect” isn’t without its bumps.
Riders keen on using the feature would need to opt in and select a gender within the app.
However, the company quickly set realistic expectations: opting for the feature doesn’t guarantee a female or non-binary driver, especially if none are in the area.
Both drivers and riders must choose to be a part of this system for it to truly work.
Addressing Safety Concerns
The larger landscape, though, throws light on why such a feature is in demand. Both Lyft and its arch-rival, Uber, have not been strangers to controversy.
Safety concerns have been a persistent shadow. A safety report prompted by a CNN investigation revealed that between 2017 and 2019, Lyft received 4,158 reports of sexual assault.
Though Lyft quickly highlighted that these incidents were an exception and not the rule – with 99% of rides in the given timeframe reporting no safety concerns – the numbers remain an issue.
Financial and Legal Implications
The ripple effects of these disclosures hit Lyft’s financial shores.
A $25 million settlement was reached with shareholders, addressing the concerns surrounding statements and disclosures about the company’s operations, particularly those focusing on assault-related incidents.
This all happened as the backdrop to Lyft’s public debut in 2019.
The industry-wide concern for safety saw Lyft and Uber join forces in a rather unprecedented manner in March 2021.
Attempts at Transparency
They declared a commitment to share drivers’ names deactivated due to severe safety incidents, with sexual assaults topping the list.
This joint venture, a notable attempt at transparency, places HireRight – a consumer reporting agency – at its helm.
Behind the scenes, Lyft’s “Women+ Connect” is more than just lines of code in an app; it symbolizes collaboration. The development of the feature saw inputs from significant outside organizations.
Human Rights Campaign
Names like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives were crucial contributors, emphasizing Lyft’s commitment to the cause.
As this feature unfolds, it promises a potential increase in the female driver workforce and a shift in how ride-hailing services manage safety and inclusivity in their operations.
With riders and drivers across the spectrum watching closely, Lyft’s latest move could very well steer the direction of the entire industry.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Diego Thomazini
Source: Edition CNN