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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women in management

Is gender equality good for business?

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Photo Credit: AP Photo / Richard Drew

Is gender equality good for business?

Generally, attempts to answer this question focus on measuring the financial performance, and stock-market performance of companies led by women CEOs or with female directors.

Last week, for example, market index provider MSCI released a study showing that companies with at least 3 board directors or a higher percentage of women on their boards (compared to their country’s average) generated 36.4% higher returns for their shareholders than companies where women were not as well-represented. This analysis was based on a review of 4,000 global companies since 2009.

We’re not surprised to see gender equality correlated with financial success. Past studies (such as this one from Credit Suisse, and another from Catalyst) have shown similar relationships between gender diversity in the senior leadership and financial out-performance.

So if gender equality means financial success, why aren’t there more companies jumping on the bandwagon? We’d venture to guess that part of the reason is simply that the studies show correlation — not causation. Financial performance is easy to measure but it’s a tricky thing to understand, much less find a “formula” for. Many variables go into what makes some companies more successful than others — as mountains of business books demonstrate.

Another reason may simply be that female representation at the upper echelon of a company is not exactly the same thing as “gender equality” at that company. To use an analogy, having an African-American President of the United States doesn’t mean there is racial equality throughout America.

Don’t get us wrong — It’s certainly important to measure gender equality by tracking the number of companies with female CEOs or directors. However, if you believe a company’s financial success depends on having a culture that welcomes and fosters diversity of thought and opinion, a culture of gender equality throughout all levels of an organization is probably equally important. After all, many critical business decisions are made every day that never make it up to review of the C-suite or director level. The way a digital product is designed, discussions over the way a car’s safety feature is tested, how a new campaign for children’s toys is marketed to households are all decisions initially made at the lower-to-mid levels of a company where diversity and representation of thought are critical.

That’s why we try to measure what all women at an employer think. We ask every woman in the Fairygodboss community whether they think they’re treated fairly and equally to men at work. In analyzing thousands of employee reviews, we’ve found that when women report there is gender equality in their workplace, they also report overall job satisfaction. Since job satisfaction is one predictor of how likely an employee is to remain at an employer — it’s an important measure of employee turn-over and recruitment costs.

In other words, gender equality is certainly good for business in terms of being able to recruit and retain employee talent. Stay tuned for more of our findings about gender equality in the workplace!

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

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working women

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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working women

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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Why Netflix Should Ignore the “Haters” (of their Unlimited Parental Leave Policy)

Photo credit: stobor / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: stobor / Foter / CC BY-SA

Last week, Netflix announced a ground-breaking unlimited, paid maternity and paternity leave policy for most of their employees. We love sharing information about company policies that impact working women so we immediately started sharing the news on social media. We assumed most people would be happy for Netflix employees and the worst emotion coming out of the announcement would be jealousy.

What happened next surprised us: people started criticizing Netflix’s policy. Suddenly we were reading headlines like “Why Netflix’s New Parental-Leave Policy Could Make Things Worse for Women” and “Why Netflix’s ‘unlimited’ Maternity Leave Policy Won’t Work“. Then there were those who were rightly upset that certain Netflix employees would be left out. NPR reported that certain employees in its DVD division and call centers would not be covered in “Netflix Still Facing Questions Over Its New Parental Leave Policy.”

We think Netflix should get another round of applause.

As the saying goes: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Is Netflix’s policy “perfect”? Almost certainly, no. It only covers some of its employees. It could have been even more generous by explicitly giving 1 year of paid leave instead of leaving it up to employee discretion. They could have required that employees (or managers) take some minimum amount of maternity leave so others wouldn’t feel pressured to copy workaholic examples around them. It could have created a policy that would be easier for other companies to emulate / copy. It could have created world peace and erased all workplace gender biases. (Ok, we’re being sarcastic now).

Our point is this: Netflix is trying to do better by many of the parents at their company. They have a culture that already gave an unlimited vacation policy, which presumably was working for them despite the ambiguity. And they are trying to treat men and women equally in giving equal parental leave and not making assumptions about which gender will take on more child-rearing responsibilities at home.

So could their policy have been better, clearer, more inclusive?  Probably, yes. But should they mostly ignore all the hand-wringing and concern? Absolutely.

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace for women and crowd-sourcing maternity leave information as a free resource for all working women. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com.

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