Booking Protocols to Avoid Gender Bias

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NaplesLMT
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Booking Protocols to Avoid Gender Bias

Post by NaplesLMT » Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:22 am

I wanted to start a thread that might be turned into a sticky. We have certainly discussed the subject of gender bias. This is not mean to be another venue for that but simply ideas for protocols/verbiage when booking appointments. So, if you don't agree with the subject, post it elsewhere. This is meant to be a constructive idea thread. I know some ideas have been brought up before. It would be nice to have them in one appropriate thread without all the noise.

I'll start: "When would you like your massage?" "Tues about 10 AM" "Do you have a gender preference?"
I chose this verbiage because it still respects the clients right to choose but first they must decide if they really have a preference.

Get the idea? Maybe we will be able to put together a list of suggested protocols for employers who are open to help/guidance in this area. Abundance for all in this new year....
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Post by RelaxandRejuvenate » Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:52 am

I am fine with the subject, but your verbiage does nothing to further the goal of preventing gender bias.
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Post by palpable » Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:43 am

The best I've seen, and have used often myself is along the lines of:

We have an opening at 10 am on tuesday with Stacey, or 2 pm on Wed. with Stan. Would you like to schedule one of those times?
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Post by NaplesLMT » Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:02 pm

Good one Palpable! Nice and direct.
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Post by StephenCMT » Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:07 am

Only problems I foresee with that, though I do like it a lot, is that there are so many names that cross genders now. Stan definitely sounds male while names like Tracey...well not so much. :P

Even with text this can present a problem. You know how many times I was called "Stephanie" during roll call in a new class when my name clearly said Stephen? OMG... lol
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Post by EgoMagickian » Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:24 am

Only problems I foresee with that, though I do like it a lot, is that there are so many names that cross genders now.

That only seems like problem if one is looking to facilitate gender bias. This topic is about avoiding it.

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Post by StephenCMT » Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:25 pm

Yeah I...kinda figured that out when I read the OP.

Problem is that the client is always gonna be the variable in this equation and their needs are what make this situation not as cut & dry as we'd like it to be as male MT's looking to take booking bias out the mix. It's their money afterall and we need to find a balance that respects their need to basic information upfront as well as our need to not be singled out because of our sex. It's hell, but it's reality.

I said something like this before in another thread: some clients have religious constraints that forbids them from having any man BUT their man touching them. Then there are the ones who've been through abuse and may not be ready to have a male touch them just yet. There are also the ones with jealous BF's/Husbands to worry about. When these clients get booked with someone like Tracey, Aubrey, etc...and then arrive to see that Tracey/Aubrey has a 5 o'clock shadow, you end up with an uncomfortable situation with multiple outcomes. These aren't hypothetical examples, folks. These have all happened to me in my career and my name is Stephen for Pete's sake. :o

Is there a way to do this? Yeah, but it may be a little more verbose:

"We have Jillian available at 3 PM but then she's booked for the evening. We also have Aubrey who keeps certain hours of his book left open for his walk-ins between 2PM and 4 PM".

With words like 'she' and 'his', we establish both genders without singling either of them out for scrutiny. Both are "part of the same gang" so to speak and then the more balanced ball is in the client's court. This way, the only bias we'll deal with is from the client and not the employer/booking staff protocols.
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Post by NaplesLMT » Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:09 am

Good contribution Stephen. Maybe a little more effort(verbose) is what is needed from staff to level the field. It is call a job after all and if a little extra effort is required to elevate the work place, I'm all for it. The therapists sure work extra hard when we see it will be of benefit to the client and the business, don't we?
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Post by EgoMagickian » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:09 pm

I'm not sure finding convoluted ways to covertly let the client know the therapists' genders really avoids gender bias... rather, it seems to confirm it.

In other words, what is the difference between going out of your way to say "he" and "she" and simply telling the client the therapist's gender explicitly?

What do we mean by "a booking protocol to avoid gender bias" anyway?

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Post by StephenCMT » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:24 am

Hmm...well, what would you suggest then? :)
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Post by RelaxandRejuvenate » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:39 am

Get over it, would be my suggestion.

This is a non-topic.

Either you take appts with no other information regarding the gender of the therapist or the client's preference -- you are booking time -- or you are in some way aiding and abetting gender bias in booking.

Don't think too many places will go for Option A. So get over it.
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Post by naturalhealing » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:59 am

What I have always done is just book the appointment. If they have a problem when they arrive I try to convince them gently to give the therapist a try, usually this works. If it doesn't it's their loss, and the client will know to request a specific therapist the next time.

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Post by StephenCMT » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:47 pm

RelaxandRejuvenate wrote:Get over it, would be my suggestion.

This is a non-topic.

Either you take appts with no other information regarding the gender of the therapist or the client's preference -- you are booking time -- or you are in some way aiding and abetting gender bias in booking.

Don't think too many places will go for Option A. So get over it.
Meh. I've been over it after enough years in this biz, but am always open to suggestions to improve a situation. I'm also open enough to understand that clients have a right to know upfront for some of the reasons I listed above.

As long as I'm not booked in a way that sounds apologetic just because because I'm a guy, then I'm fine. :)
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Post by NaplesLMT » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:29 am

Hi Ego! good question/point. Let me clarify my intent. I was trying to be PC and not raise hackles of business owners which in the past has IMO become ugly.
I wanted to come up with a list of suggestions/options to present to current and future spa owners who might need/appreciate some guidance in this sensitive issue. I respect and understand that client preferences are a part of business but just as we promote our business with cleverly worded slogans, ads and marketing. We may be able to promote bookings for male therapists. It is really only the booking desk protocols that can be altered to avoid bias against males. Hopefully this can be accomplished without bias against females and threatening to reduce business for the owner. I just think a little extra effort form the owner/desk is needed here and employees deserve it. I know that many here accept the fact that males are at a disadvantage. This is for those folks. If you don't believe this, good for you. But my hope was to gather like minded people who can contribute positive like minded responses and not have this be a debate/attack thread.
BTW, I consider "get over it" (even in the form of a suggestion) to be an attack on this thread and not in the spirit of the original post.
Last edited by NaplesLMT on Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by NaplesLMT » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:18 am

Hi Natural, that's for the input. I hope to compile a list of suggestions and perhaps even have a vote if the list gets long.
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Post by JasonE » Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:33 pm

EgoMagickian wrote:I'm not sure finding convoluted ways to covertly let the client know the therapists' genders really avoids gender bias... rather, it seems to confirm it.

In other words, what is the difference between going out of your way to say "he" and "she" and simply telling the client the therapist's gender explicitly?

What do we mean by "a booking protocol to avoid gender bias" anyway?
Though a bit more convoluted, I don't feel that Stephen's approach "confirms" gender bias in any way. I see it as a simple means of conveying gender clarification (for clients that DO have a marked preference).

On the other hand, asking "Do you have a gender preference?" indicates that it is normal and perhaps preferable to have one. While it may be normal (yet), I think we can agree that it isn't necessarily preferable. As a business owner, I'd prefer to have my clients all be fine seeing whatever MT is best suited to help them, regardless of gender. In my case, I'd like clients that normally prefer a male MT be willing to see a female MT rather than not make an appointment. (And vice versa!)

I doubt that there really is a "best" way to handle all booking. While it would be easier for everyone if clients didn't care about MT gender, we've just got to do our best with reality. If we establish a rapport with the people we speak to, they may be willing to step outside their normal comfort zones. I've convinced many people to give new MTs, male MTs, female MTs, etc. a chance, and they are usually pleasantly surprised.

We are in a "trust" business. If we honor and uphold the trust our clients extend to us, we will be rewarded.
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Post by NaplesLMT » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:01 am

Good point Jason. I had thought about "I'd like to book you with Mike, unless you have a gender bias" but obviously that is right in the client's face. LOL
Maybe the best suggestion so far is the straight forward " I have you booked with Mike at 10 am." If there's an androgenous name like Lee or Stacey, you could say Mr Lee or Mr Stacey.
My original thought was that if you asked them if they had a gender preference, their first thought would be "no" because deep down everyone knows that prejudice is wrong. Perhaps I have too much faith in people wanting to do the right thing.

It's good to see people posting positive ideas!!
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Post by RelaxandRejuvenate » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:42 am

NaplesLMT wrote: I had thought about "I'd like to book you with Mike, unless you have a gender bias" but obviously that is right in the client's face. LOL
right up there with "I want an appointment with a really good therapist"

"Sorry, all the good ones are booked. I don't know what I am doing, so I hired some crappy ones for people who can't tell the difference."
Smithers: "Sir, I'm afraid we have a bad image, people see you as a bit of an ogre." Mr.Burns: "I ought to club them and eat their bones!"

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Post by JasonE » Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:51 pm

RelaxandRejuvenate wrote:"Sorry, all the good ones are booked. I don't know what I am doing, so I hired some crappy ones for people who can't tell the difference."
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Reminds me of some stories best shared around a campfire with beer in hand.
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gender bias

Post by Peteo8eq » Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:50 pm

I don't think it is a bias at all. After all the client have the right to choose for every reason. It is not a bias and it is just a preference in my opionion

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Post by EgoMagickian » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:24 am

It is really only the booking desk protocols that can be altered to avoid bias against males.

Right. And clearly, the way for a business to avoid gender bias is to not have one. It seems pretty simple and clear cut to me, actually. You either cater to the client on this one (to whatever degree you like) or you don't.

I don't think it is a bias at all. After all the client have the right to choose for every reason. It is not a bias and it is just a preference in my opionion

Peteo, that's a different thread ;-) See http://www.bodyworkonline.com/forum/vie ... hp?t=12312

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Post by extremeskins » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:07 pm

Hey all, new to the forums... but I've been spending the past few days reading through and familiarizing myself. Obviously, I'm a male therapist too... been practicing for a little over a year now in Ontario, Canada.

Just curious what everyone would think about this idea: What about at the time of booking... if the appointment IS with a male therapist... reception simply adds "Do you have any objections with a male therapist?"

I think if you give people a "preference".... then 99% of the time it's going to be a female if they get to "choose" -- unless they specifically ask up front. However, only those people who truly OBJECT to having a male therapist are going to follow that up... they may not "prefer" a male therapist -- at least initially -- but I doubt most potential clients have an "objection". In which case, if they do, they should be accommodated... and I don't think any of us would have a problem with that right?

That's what I've been thinking anyways. Be curious to hear the feedback.

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Post by Jeffpcmt » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:15 pm

extremeskins wrote:
I think if you give people a "preference".... then 99% of the time it's going to be a female if they get to "choose" -- unless they specifically ask up front. However, only those people who truly OBJECT to having a male therapist are going to follow that up... they may not "prefer" a male therapist -- at least initially -- but I doubt most potential clients have an "objection". In which case, if they do, they should be accommodated... and I don't think any of us would have a problem with that right?
That's exactly the experience I have always had.

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Post by familymassage » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:31 am

another approach is to ensure the front desk personnel have been on each therapist's table.

when i was leaving my student clinic (and the state) i informed my regular clientele of therapist students that would still be around who i had experience with and also suggested that it's always a great idea to try out a variety of therapists since we all have a different touch.

perhaps having desk personnel that have experienced bodywork from each of the therapists will be more candid in regards to what the client defines as their bodywork needs and can make suggestions based on the actual bodywork rather than gender. personal testimony goes a LONG way with many bodywork clients.

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Post by Timedess » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:12 am

We're in a wee bit more unique situation here. For one, as hubby says, "the money all goes the same place anyway". He already has a client base, I am just getting started. But the major thing for us when we are booking new people is what they are looking for. He does certain things better than I do, and the difference there is far greater than "male or female?" There are a few people who seem to be die-hard "I want a female, regardless", and that's ok- they may not get a "hubby" massage, but as long as they're satisfied with my work, I guess we're all happy.

I went to "connect" with a chiropractor whom a new client suggested we talk to the other day. The receptionist was very warm and seemed genuinely happy to hear that we're in the area (we are extremely local to each other). She also gave me the name and number to another chiro. office in the larger area, saying that they had once worked together and that she was sure that the other office would be happy to find someone in this area to refer patients to, since many of their patients come from this local community. Woot!

She also told me that she was glad to see that my hubby does therapeutic work. She said that many of the patients they refer for massage prefer a man, because they really want to get "fixed"- so maybe an opposite perception is in play there.

Neither of us has trouble with the "gender bias". We've found so far that more people have a "touch" bias- some prefer his touch/techniques, and others prefer mine. For the few who mention an actual *gender* preference, we're happy to accommodate. After all, it really IS all going the same place for us'uns!
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