working women

12 Fairygodboss Employer Moments in 2015

As we look back on 2015, we wanted to celebrate the good work that employers have done to help support women in the workplace. These #fairygodboss employers really impressed us!

pabloLyftFast Company

  1. In January, Lyft makes 2 new senior-level female hires which makes its executive team ~50/50 balanced in terms of gender. The company also implements a 3-month paid maternity leave policy.pabloSF
    Bloomberg 
  2. In April, led by CEO, Marc Benioff, Salesforce announces a compensation audit to make sure men and women at the company are paid equally and fairly for their work. This results in a $3 million adjustment to female employees over the year.pablointel
    Mercury News 
  3. In June, Intel launches $125 million fund to invest in businesses led by women and underrepresented minorities.pabloGOOG
  4. By July, Google and other tech companies following its example saw the one year anniversary of an initiative to release employee  diversity data. While the industry revealed modest progress in 2015, many pledged to try harder and we are encouraged by these companies’ continued commitment to transparency.pabloNetflix
    Washington Post 
  5. In August, Netflix announces an unlimited parental leave policy for full-time salaried employees, and later extends paid maternity leave to its hourly employees.pabloAdobe
    Fortune 
  6. Adobe doubles its paid maternity leave to 26 weeks and increases paternity and adoptive leave to 16 weeks in August.pabloMSFT
    Business Insider 
  7. In the same month, Microsoft extends parental leave policies so new moms can take a total of 20 weeks of paid time off.WSJ
    WSJ 
  8. In September, everyone talks about McKinsey’s study of what ~30,000 employees at 118 companies say about the state of gender equality in the workforce. There findings are sobering, but what isn’t measured is unlikely to change.pabloHilton
    Washington Post 
  9. In the same month, Hilton Worldwide announces industry-leading maternity leave benefits for the hospitality industry. Employees at corporate offices and managed hotels with a minimum of 1 year of service will receive 10 weeks of fully paid leave.pabloGates
    Business Insider 
  10. In October, the Gates Foundation expended its paid parental and maternity leave to one full year of leave for new and adoptive parents.pabloTrudeua
    Time 
  11. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau names the country’s first 50/50 gender-balanced cabinet because “its 2015″ in November.pabloaccenture
    Huffington Post 
  12. Accenture amplifies the discussion of gender equality in partnership with the Huffington Post with stories from 130,000 of its women to highlight challenges, inspire others, and provide advice  to others.We believe stories and voices matter at Fairygodboss, and we hope to keep hearing from employers and women in 2016!

    Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

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working women

10 Fairygodboss Moments of 2015

2015 was a great year for women. Looking back, here are some of our favorite moments.

pabloPattyAGlamour Magazine

  1. In February, Patricia Arquette issues a rally cry for women to achieve equal pay in her Oscars speech. It’s not necessarily easy for celebrities to use their fame to advocate for their beliefs – so we applaud her for taking a stand.

    pabloEllenPre/Code

  2. In March, we were all watching the dirty laundry aired during the Ellen Pao trial. While it didn’t end well for Pao, we all benefitted from the focus on the challenges women face in the technology industry. Looking back, Pao is sanguine about how things are improving for women in tech.

    pabloHilz
    ABC News

  3. In April, Hillary Clinton finally announces her candidacy for POTUS, making her the first female candidate to enter the ring. The new grandmother called for equal pay, and better maternity leave legislation for American women in her campaign speeches.

    pabloCarlyNPR

  4. In May, Carly Fiorina throws in her hat to the ring, making it the first time two women have a shot at winning the country’s highest office. She, too, takes on feminist causes and makes us laugh about an otherwise serious matter: gender equality in the workplace.

    pabloLennyLenny Letter

  5. Come July, Lena Dunham launches Lenny Letter, giving us all a dose of funny and insightful feminist news in her weekly email.pabloAMSForbes

  6. In time for back-to-school, Anne-Marie Slaughter weighs in on why it’s hard for anyone to “have it all” in a “toxic work culture. Her book released in September, “Unfinished Business” sparks a national conversation about how women and men suffer when we pursue work at the expense of everything else. This is perfectly timed to follow a spate of announcements by tech companies Netflix, Adobe and Microsoft about expanded maternity leave policies.

    pabloGlriaAOL Makers

  7. In October, California passes the nation’s toughest Equal Pay law and Gloria Steinhem releases her decades-long memoir in-the-making “Life on the Road” about all the progress women have made in the arenas of government, public policy, and reproductive rights — and how we must keeping fighting the good fight.

    pabloReeseGlamour Magazine

  8. In November, Reese Witherspoon shows us yet again why she’s America’s sweetheart at the Glamour Women of the Year award gala. Her speech inspired girls and women around the world.

    pabloAP
    Associated Press

  9. This month, we saw a significant win for women looking for equal rights in the military. U.S. Defense Secretary Carter announced in the early weeks of this month that women could join the ranks of those in combat roles. In a year where we saw the first female Rangers graduate, we think it’s about time!

    pabloTime
    Time Magazine

  10. Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine both celebrated two superstars — who happen to be women — on their covers. Serena Williams was named Sportsperson of the Year and Frau Angela Merkel was nominated Time’s Person of the Year for holding together the European Union during a year of existential, refugee and currency crisis. 

We clearly have a lot to celebrate this year and can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

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working women

Sexism in Hollywood Matters to Women Everywhere

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Shonda Rhimes, as photographed by Art Streiber for the New York Times

Over the weekend, we were fascinated to see how gender equality looks — and feels — in an industry that isn’t well-represented (yet!) in our database: Hollywood.

Maureen Dowd, of the New York Times, wrote a long piece based on interviews with more than 100 men and women working in entertainment about why women are so under-represented in the film industry:

  • Only 30.2% of speaking or named characters in the top 100 grossing fictional films were women
  • 1.9% of the directors of the top 100 grossing films were directed by women in 2013 and 2014
  • Only three movies released by the 6 major studies had a female director last year
  • 95% of cinematographers, 89% of screenwriters, 82% of editors, 81% of executive producers and 77% of producers were men in 2014

As Dowd points out, these stats look even worse than the dismal numbers of women in the C-suite, Silicon Valley, or at the highest levels of U.S. government.

While it might be tempting to dismiss this issue as irrelevant to the vast majority of working class women, we think that’s the wrong way to look at the problem.

We believe that gender inequality is relevant for all women, wherever it lives. But the media is a special and important case simply because the industry has immense influence and touches us all — even for those of us who consume relatively little of it.

We can’t avoid the images, the story-lines, the cliches and the stereotypes regardless of how little entertainment content we consume. Our children — boys and girls — soak up up these ideas. And the older they get, the more they  believe in the story lines generated by a surprisingly homogenous group of people.

The problem is chicken-and-egg. How can we collectively make progress on our unconscious biases about gender roles and capabilities if they keep being reinforced? If Hollywood keeps producing stories where surgeons, CEOs, Presidents, executives, firemen, superheroes, and movie directors are men — and do all the leading, controlling, saving, and commanding — it becomes that much harder for the next generation of women to relate to those roles and life paths.

Of course we can make “choices” to consume different content. But that’s only realistic up to a point. That’s why we stand by the efforts by Dowd, the Geena Davis Institute and these brave, individual women who have spoken out (sometimes hilariously succinctly) — at some risk to their own careers and reputations — to spread awareness of sexism in Hollywood.

Thank you for telling your stories — it matters to women everywhere.

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

 

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Ellen Pao on Meritocracy

Photo credit: dcJohn / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: dcJohn / Foter.com / CC BY

Lately we have been thinking about the discrepancy we see between younger women starting their careers, and women with several more years of work experience under their belts.

It’s a generalization, of course, but many of the youngest, most ambitious women we hear from are often least likely to believe that gender equality is an issue in the workplace. Take Elizabeth*, a Harvard Business School student in her late-20’s. She’s worked in a difficult, male-dominated environment prior to business school and believes her gender is irrelevant. Elizabeth admits things might look different one day when she has children, but at the moment, she sees no difference between herself and male counterparts. (*Elizabeth’s name has been changed to protect her identity.)

When we speak to the youngest women in the work-force, we often hear things like “I don’t feel like there is any difference between me and my male counterparts. I can do anything they can do.” A Pew survey shows that 41% of millennial women think that being a working parent does not make having a career more difficult and 25% think no further work needs to be done in improve gender equality in the workplace.

Anecdotally, we hear these beliefs in our conversations. We also notice this viewpoint seems to shift — almost imperceptibly at first — as careers progress.

Ellen Pao describes this transformation in an essay she wrote for today’s issue of Lenny. Much like Elizabeth, she says: “I grew up believing the world is a meritocracy. It’s how I was raised, and it made sense for a long time.”

This belief sustained me, mostly, through my early 20s. That was 20 years ago, when I saw my prospects as awesome and full of possibilities. I was fresh out of Harvard Law School, and my classmates and I thought we could do anything we set our minds to do. I believed in the system, because it seemed to work, and frankly it was just so easy to believe

After a few scrapes, bruises, hard work, compromises and work-arounds, things started to look different:

But after a while, we were all treading water, just trying to get by as our ranks thinned and progress got harder. We were wondering, Is it just me? Am I really too ambitious while being too quiet while being too aggressive while being unlikable? Are my elbows too sharp? Am I not promoting myself enough? Am I not funny enough? Am I not working hard enough? Do I belong? Eventually, there comes a point where you can’t just rally and explain away all the behavior as creepy exceptions or pin the blame on yourself. And the glimmers of achievement are too few and far between. You see patterns, systemic problems, and it doesn’t matter where you are or what industry you pursue.

This is similar to the comments by former Yahoo President Sue Decker in her career reflections on the same topic:

I, and most women I know, have been a party to at least some sexist or discriminatory behavior in the workplace…At the same time, the men who may be promulgating it are often very unaware of the slights, and did not intend the outcome. And for the women, it happens in incremental steps that often seem so small in isolation that any individual act seems silly to complain about. So we move on. But in aggregate, and with the perspective of hindsight, they are real.”

While this evolution in perspective may be far from universal, it certainly does seem to happen often. There may be a lesson (or two) to draw from that journey. Pao, herself, ultimately draws the hopeful conclusion that things are improving.

While the world may not be a pure meritocracy, neither is it a horrible place everywhere. In our community, for example, there are some very happy women satisfied with their work, career achievements, and ability to balance their personal lives. We’re obsessed with what they share in common, and are currently studying what they say. Stay tuned!

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com 

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Our Maternity Leave Database is Here!

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We’re excited to announce that we launched our Maternity Leave Resource Center this week. Check it out here!

To our knowledge, it’s the first time you can search, filter and compare companies by whether they pay maternity leave benefits (and for how long). At launch, there were close to 600 companies in the database, across all different industries.

Thanks to the women of Fairygodboss who’ve shared thousands of reviews and tips in order to make this a reality! The database has tremendous momentum and we expect it to grow and evolve based on your feedback. The complexity of maternity leave policies can be difficult to whittle down to a couple stark numbers, but simplicity has great value.

To supplement the information in our database, our members often expand on the specifics within their reviews, including: tenure requirements, the overlap with FMLA and state laws, short-term disability policies (and whether they have to pay into them and receive 100% salary coverage), and whether they are stigmatized or supported during their leave.

Within the reviews that discuss pregnancy and maternity leave experiences, there are both heart-warming and heart-breaking stories — showing both great progress and also large areas for improvement. Let’s keep on sharing and discussing to improve gender equality in the workplace.
For more information on our database, you can read some reactions in the press: http://for.tn/1XhAtiz and http://bit.ly/1GT1Xlc

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com 

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Getting to the Top Means Being Realistic

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A recent set of Harvard Business School studies show that relative to men, we women believe we’re capable of equal success in the workforce, are less ambitious when it comes to getting the “top” jobs, perceive more conflicts associated with getting these positions, and have more non-career goals in life.

This is headier stuff than first meets the eye.

Notice that the study didn’t draw any causal conclusions. It didn’t because of a concept called “reflexivity.” Reflexivity is the idea that some things don’t have a simple cause-and-effect relationship but rather have a circular cause-and-effect relationship. An example of reflexivity is if both the following sentences are true:

  • Women are less ambitious about getting “top jobs” because they perceive more life conflicts and have other goals.
  • Women have other goals and perceive more life conflicts with getting “top jobs” because they are less ambitious.

We believe that career ambition and career success for women is absolutely a reflexive phenomenon. What we see around us influences what we think we’re capable of and vice-verse. That’s why female role models matter, moms like buying Goldie Blox for their daughters, and society seems to love (and hate) hearing female executives talk about work-life balance.

We all know that some women really are less ambitious than some men (just as some men are less ambitious than some women). But there seems to be a general reluctance to publicly admit that is true for fear of perpetuating another generation of disappointing female leadership numbers. One recent poll even found that a majority of young women think its socially unacceptable to have no ambition.

We can certainly understand that there’s a real fear of deterring some young women from trying to achieve more if we highlight any tradeoffs a career might entail. Whether those trade-offs are for more time with family or simply just increased career-related stress, there is well-meaning concern over dissuading impressionable young minds from achieving their full potential.

However, we are actually encouraged by the Harvard data. We believe that in a career marathon, the realistic ones who plan, research, and are armed with the best information are the ones more likely to survive the difficulties ahead. You wouldn’t attempt to climb Everest with just visions of glory and no expectations of frostbite. The prepared corporate executives are the ones who train themselves mentally, emotionally, and even physically for the challenges ahead. If women are more realistic than men about the trade-offs it takes to pursue anything single-mindedly, it seems to us that they may well be at an advantage.

Not every woman wants to become a CEO nor an executive and that’s absolutely fine. But we think the ones that do have a better shot if they’re realistic (warts and all) about what it may take to get there.

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com and reviewing your employer.

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Why We Hate Writing about Marissa Mayer’s Pregnancy

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty

Its the last week of summer and many Americans — including us — are enjoying a bit of a holiday.

While we’re abroad, we are watching the foreign press cover the latest news about Yahoo’s CEO as if it’s simultaneously a business issue, social issue, and celebrity gossip piece all wrapped up in one package. Earlier this week, she announced:

Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo’s transformation, I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout.

When it comes to Mayer’s pregnancy, people are mainly talking about 4 things:

  1. Whether she should or shouldn’t be taking a longer maternity leave since she is a role model for other working women
  2. Whether other women should compare themselves to her
  3. Whether we should be judging or discussing her choices at all, since we might not do the same for a male CEO who is expecting children
  4. Whether it matters in terms of her performance as CEO

In other words, pretty much everything you can imagine that could be said about this topic has probably been said. Which is one of the reasons we dislike writing about her pregnancy. We also hate writing about it because we want to simply tell Mayer “Congratulations,” and leave it at that. After all, that’s the normal and proper thing to say to anyone who’s just announced news of twins.

But Mayer is not just anyone. She’s a public figure, one of the highest paid CEO’s in America, and one of the youngest and only female CEOs in the technology industry. Like it or not, her personal life is in the spotlight because she is a more glamourous subject than the millions of other women in America who have little choice but to take a couple weeks of maternity leave after they give birth. We can only assume she has made a self-actualized and well-informed decision, realizes the attention is a casualty of her position, and takes all the corresponding criticism in stride.

In the end, we decided to write about her pregnancy because it gives us an opportunity to say that we believe many women — and also men — experience biases and social pressures that make things very hard to be a whole person at work. Being a whole person means different things to different people, but pregnancy is special example simply because its physically impossible to hide, and affects so many people in the workforce.

Even in this day and age, women continue to experience discrimination because they are pregnant, and also subsequently when they become mothers. This is often despite the best intentions of companies and colleagues. These problems are persistent because they are rooted in biases (conscious or not) and cultural ideas of what it means to be an “ideal worker” and truly committed to our work.

However, that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made. We started Fairygodboss because we believe many companies and organizations don’t look closely enough at gender equality in their culture. Transparency is an important step in creating change – and Mayer has been nothing if not transparent. She has shared her own choices very openly (i.e. a short maternity leave and her on-site personal nursery) and announced big changes to Yahoo’s policies (i.e. expanded paid parental leave and restrictions on working-from-home). Whatever you may think of her personal and professional choices, at least we’re talking about things that matter to a great number of working women — and that in many cases, really should change.

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace for women by creating transparency. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com and reviewing your employer.

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