Communicating benefits to attract more female talent
Jan 16th, 2017
What would you want to know about a company before applying for a job?
Have you ever tried searching ‘flexible jobs Toronto’?
18 months ago I began searching for a job after being on maternity leave; one which would offer me a challenge and flexibility. I had a one and a two year old at home and a husband that travelled a lot. Nine-to-five on top of a possible two-hour commute was not an option for me if I wanted to keep my sanity, or see my kids. All that came up on that Google search was Retail Assistant and Call Centre Representative.
Roles are just not advertised as flexible. But then how was I to know which companies would negotiate on, or offer flexible work options and opportunities for career growth?
Canada’s Top 100 and Great Places To Work were a good start, but they don’t delve into the culture of a company or address the specific concerns I have as a woman and as a mother. Not having this information at the outset became a barrier to me even considering roles.
In an ideal world I would like for there to be one place where I can find professional and flexible job listings. Where I can quickly and succinctly learn about the specific aspects of a company’s culture that would allow me to thrive, both as a woman and as a mother.
I’ve come up with four factors that I think women specifically would be interested in learning more about before applying for a role. I am working with organizations across Canada to communicate their polices for each (watch this space).
They will vary in importance to you as they do to me, so I would appreciate your comments and feedback.
So this is what I want to know about a company before I apply for a role
- Flexible Work Options
Flexibility is so independent. For me it is simply delivering on results. How I do that shouldn’t matter to the employer as long as the job is done on time and done well. When there is a deadline, or an article to write, I like to work from home. When there are new ideas or I need to find solutions I like to have a place to go to brainstorm with colleagues and be social. I work better in the morning and am useless between the hours of 3pm – 7pm (even before kids).
So I would like to know, does the company have a formal or informal policy for negotiating flexible work options? What does that look like and who uses it? Is it supported by the work culture and workplace environment?. I have been researching flexibility like it is my job (hehe!) and virtually all companies say they have flexible work policies. I think we need to go further than that and see who is using it and how they are using it.
- Career Planning & Advancement
Flexibility and career growth go hand and hand for me. Some of the companies I have spoken with offer part-time or reduced hours but only for junior roles. I don’t want to have to take a giant step back and tread water just to control when and how I work best.
The best saying I have heard throughout this entire endeavour is that ambition doesn’t wear off with the epidural. I may not want to spend all of my time in a car commuting or in the office but I do want to be pushed and challenged. I want to use my brain and work towards my career goals.
So I would like to know, what kind of support is offered for personal development and career growth? Does the company have employee resource groups, mentorship and leadership training programs? Are they committed to diversifying their leadership at senior levels?
A lot of companies will publish gender numbers for employees and managers but the dip really starts to show at Senior Management level. What is telling, and what I’m interested in learning, is how many women are in Manager, Senior Manager and Board level positions.
- Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives
Diversity without inclusion is a failing effort. Nobody wants to be a token, or chosen based solely on their gender. They also don’t want to be discriminated against based on their gender. I would like to work for an organization that is inclusive and where I won’t hear comments that I’ve faced in the past such as, ‘this role wouldn’t suit someone looking to have a family’ or have it be assumed that because I am a woman I have no place speaking to senior male executives (yes, it was actually implied that I should not make the call). Bollocks to that!
So I would like to know, what steps are companies making to ensure they are creating an inclusive environment, free of bias and discrimination? What kind of diversity and inclusion initiatives are there? Is it lead from the top down? What about unconscious bias training? Is diversity and inclusion reflected across the hiring, recruiting, and job review process?
It’s hard enough raising a family and pursuing your career without systemic barriers holding you back. Let’s level the playing field.
- Maternity Related Benefits
Becoming a mother was the biggest and most important change in my life. How your employer treats you while you are going through that change should be a good indicator of their core values and how they will continue to treat you moving forwards.
So I would like to know, what does a company’s maternity leave policy look like? Do they do the bare minimum or provide you with additional top ups and support such as childcare subsidies? Do they actively manage your maternity leave to get you back re-energized, or do they just write you off as soon as you let them know you’re pregnant?
I’m not sure if companies keep track of it, but it would be really interesting to see how many women stayed with their organizations and for how long after they became mothers.
So I am on a mission at tellent. To work with companies across Canada and to find the answers to these questions.