We’ve all read *those* articles and blog posts during our daily internet crawl. You know the ones we’re talking about, where women detail the way they’ve been discriminated against in the workplace because of their gender. Or the articles talking about how they have been sexually harassed, treated unequally, or been pushed aside for leadership roles because of bias hiring standards.
It’s one of the reasons Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ movement has become a powerful tool for women in the corporate workforce who seek to pursue leadership roles and an equal seat at the decision-making table. It is also why organizations such as the Levo League exist – to empower women in their careers to fight gender bias and pay inequality.
In the tech industry, we have seen numerous world renowned brands release Diversity Reports to show how on track (more like off track) they are when it comes to the breakdown of their employees. It should surprise no one that the presence of women, minorities, and differently-abled people are very poorly represented compared to white and Asian men generally across brands like Google, Facebook, Apple, Intel and more.
But what if there was a way to predict and prevent discrimination based on a database of information about a certain company? Thanks to a handful of websites emerging, prompted by the movement to eliminate gender discrimination in the workforce, this is now a possibility. Think of it as the Yelp for gender equality.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, these websites allow women in the workforce to find out specific information before they accept a position or even apply, based on how they treat its female employees. The first is InHerSight, a website which allows people to anonymously rate the place they have worked at or are currently working at, while also allowing women to find their perfect “match” based on the parameters they care about and the companies in their database.
They have ratings on companies such as the US Navy, Boeing, Anthropologie, Time Warner Cable, Paypal, Western Union and many more. InHerSight is a fairly new player to this emerging trend, and focuses its data on 14 key metrics important to women including flexible work hours, maternity and adoptive leave, family growth support (e.g. child care and lactation rooms), salary satisfaction, mentoring, management opportunities for women, and female representation in leadership positions.
Their “scorecard” includes reviews from users, and a grade based on a 5-star scale rating. InHerSight wants their platform to be utilized not only for potential employees, but also for employers to be in the know about their workplace culture and find ways to improve.
“[Women] want to know, ‘What am I getting into?’ One of the most impactful things we can do it when we take their experiences and capture them as data points,” said InherSight chief executive Ursula Mead (good to see female leadership in a company looking to promote this very thing!).
So far the site has 64,000 contributions and ratings from women for over 13,000 workplaces across the United States.
“We’re trying to build a listening platform. We think companies can evolve and change over time, and we’re trying to capture that,” Ursula told the Chicago Tribune’s Julia Carpenter.
Another website is Glassdoor.com, a subscription-based site that gives you the tools to know whether you are being paid fairly in your role. Given the focus on equal pay, this is something that can be a valuable tool for those looking to shift metrics on this issue. Interestingly, this site was founded by 3 men, in 2007. But as we’ve seen with Marc Benioff at Salesforce, it’s important to have men heavily invested in ensuring the workplace is an equal opportunity space for everyone.
Glassdoor’s executive team is made up of 12 men and 6 women, and their board of advisors feature predominantly all white men, and only one women. We need to see change, especially at the companies who exist to push the needle on gender equality in the workforce.
Payscale is another great resource allowing users to find out what they are worth in a certain role based on a global database. It’s always interesting and telling to see how much a company, even one touting itself as a brand dedicated to bringing equality in the workforce, values diversity by looking at its leadership team. Payscale has a fairly evenly gender split on its Executive Team, but its board of directors and economic advisors are predominantly white men.
The Chicago Tribune’s Julia Carpenter shares how some industry experts/insiders and trend forecasters warn that there could be an averse effect to having anonymous workplace ratings based on gender discrimination, because at the moment there isn’t enough comprehensive or exhaustive data to accurately paint a whole picture about a single company. There is also the issue of sexual harassment or sexism not always being intentional, or direct, which can dilute the way a prospective female employee may process information about a certain company, for example.
Nevertheless, Ursula Mead of InHerSight says, the individual shared experiences can serve as an encouragement for more and more women to share their opinions and continue the conversation about why a company should focus on making their work environment friendly for everyone.
“By measuring satisfaction we can help companies understand what’s working and what isn’t…when it comes to their policies and initiatives. At the same time, we can help address problems and low scores that exist as a result of sexism, either intentional or not.
It is a fairly new phenomenon, one that we hope will continue to become a workplace standard, similar to what a site like Yelp is for the food and hospitality industry. The idea of a “gender equality meter” is something we are seeing more of in the workforce. Bloomberg recently launched a service that will rate the financial sector according to gender equality, and the United Nations launched it’s Women’s Empowerment Principles pledge in 2014, urging corporations around the globe to make an effort to promote women in positions of leadership at their companies.
Many of these initiatives are voluntary, or based on crowd-sourced information which have the tendency to offer fragmented statistics. But the key here is that we are seeing conversations about gender equality becoming an integral part of retaining female employees and making sure the office environment is amenable to everyone.
Since the US is the only developed nation in the world not to offer any form of federally-mandated paid family leave which is an instrumental policy in many countries that supports families, growth and employee loyalty, websites like InHerSight are absolutely needed in order to move the needle on this issue.