Another item the advisory group and Fowler wanted to tackle quickly was finding places for women to pump milk or breastfeed their babies.
Sandra Taylor, a nine-year Fowler employee and a member of the leadership group, said the company couldn't find extra office space to convert to lactation rooms. Some women used spaces such as a general manager's office but found that awkward and uncomfortable, she said.
Early last year, Fowler Automotive selected Mamava Inc. of Burlington, Vt., to install lactation pods in each of its eight dealerships.
After a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the pods were placed in showrooms and near customer waiting areas last month, Fowler said. They measure 4 feet by 8 feet and have seating, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet and a locking door.
"We wanted to remove stress about pumping accommodations for our employees," Catie Birabent, finance director at Fowler Toyota of Norman and a member of the leadership group, said in a statement.
Taylor, Fowler Automotive's director of Internet sales, said the pods are being used. A customer of Fowler Honda of Longmont in Colorado even sent a Facebook message about her positive experience with them, she said.
While the pods provide a private space, Fowler said women are encouraged to nurse wherever they are comfortable in the dealerships. He said he's received pictures, text messages and phone calls about the use of the units, and Fowler Automotive is getting "really positive feedback" on social media.
Mamava said the Fowler group is the first U.S. dealership company that has installed its pods. Mamava has some 1,600 pods across North America, including in places such as airports and Walmart stores.
Fowler declined to disclose the investment in the eight pods. A Mamava spokeswoman said a pod can range from $9,500 to $24,000.
Fowler said he hopes that someday soon all dealerships will have lactation pods and that it becomes a "very normal thing, that it's very much where people just kind of expect that. And it's a more inclusive environment for women, for working mothers and for all of our customers just to have a better experience and to be more recognized."