11 Ways To Find Women-Friendly Employers

From: WomanCo

Trying to find a company that will meet your changing needs as a woman? According to experts, you need to investigate how the organization supports its workers, particularly its female workforce. Jan Shubert, associate director for Babson College’s Center for Women in Leadership, suggests you investigate “anything that helps you get a picture of how they look at and value women.”

Scan the Web for Who Came in Last

“You can do this by searching on phrases like ‘gender discrimination’ and ‘lawsuit,’ or ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘settlement’ to see companies against whom suits have been filed or with which settlements have been reached,” advises Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women, a Rhode Island-based firm offering leadership education for women.

Evaluate Programs and Policies

Programs that typically matter to women most are those that affect promotion, work/life balance and pay equity…

Rate the Space

Does the physical office space look gender-neutral? Shubert recalls once visiting a company with the women’s bathroom a hiking distance from the executive offices. When you visit a potential employer, take note: Do you see women? Are you introduced to women during the interview? If so, what are their positions and do you get a sense of how long they’ve been with the company? Retention rates are an important gauge of worker satisfaction.

Interview Them

Don’t be shy about discussing gender. “It’s completely appropriate for a woman to ask the questions that will impact her own career and career growth,” says Nugent. And when you ask questions, consider: “Does it feel like an open culture where things are shared and the process is clear?” she says.

Go to Lunch

In the advanced interview stage, ask to go to lunch with a would-be colleague. Shubert explains this is where you can ask questions about how women fit into the work environment. You also can get a better indication of whether employees feel the company is a good place to work and whether workers feel valued.

Turn on the Tube and Flip through Magazines

If a company advertises, see if it recognizes the importance of the female consumer, suggests Shubert. Women affect the majority of purchases in the US, and not acknowledging this fact signals that a company isn’t aware of the importance of women to its success.

Rank the Industry

Catalyst’s Web site lists studies by industry. Here you can get a sense of which are friendly by evaluating the industries big players, says Nugent. But, adds Cutler-Ortiz, don’t dismiss industries that aren’t yet women-friendly as they generally pay higher wages. Look for standouts and unionized companies to get the best pay and the best setting.

Make Some Phone Calls

“Have a robust network of women colleagues who can tell you what it’s like to work in a particular company or who can connect you with a woman who can,” says Colantuono. And if you can’t find someone connected to your prospective employer, try to connect with someone in the industry who can speak about industry practices. Companies will often benchmark their policies against industry practices as a whole.

Consult Your Intuition

If your instinct is telling you something’s not right in a company, listen to it. That prospective employer should not only value women but value and respect all workers and their rights. If the employer’s emphasis seems to be on input rather output, or face time rather than results, beware.“Don’t ever treat any one piece of the puzzle as the big picture,” says Shubert. “Trust your tummy. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, keep looking.”