Switching Industries: A Personal Story on How to Do it Successfully

Are you thinking of switching industries but are afraid it may mean, “starting over”? Think again! I did it and it gave a great boost to my career! Read on!

Switching industries is among the reasons why 34% of LinkedIn users, globally, make changes in their careers, according to a 2015 global survey by LinkedIn.  Not too long ago I was among this cohort of people who wanted to switch industries.

Think of the process of switching industries as the process of researching for a major purchase

Think of the process of switching industries as the process of researching for a major purchase

Before switching industries, I worked in beauty

I spent ten years working in beauty before I made an industry switch to pharma. First, I started with a marketing consulting job within advanced analytics in which I measured the payback of marketing dollars spent on fine fragrances. Less than two years later, I was recruited by Avon as one of the first associates to join their newly established market research function.

The majority of my beauty career was at Avon, where I spent eight years, which is unheard of for anyone considered a “millennial,” even an older millennial like myself. Within those eight years I didn’t switch industries (or companies for that matter,) because I realized Avon was fertile ground for me to gain the skills needed to be competitive in the marketplace. I had the chance to learn from colleagues with backgrounds that spread across all kinds of industries, from food and beverage, beauty, consumer goods, and so on, who came from much revered organizations such as Kraft, P&G, Unilever, and Pepsi.

I had the opportunity to work on whitespace projects for marketing, global advertising, be the co-Chair of Avon’s Latino Network, travel globally and domestically. My clock started ticking at the eight year mark, so I continued my career at another beauty company, Coty, Inc.

After ten years in the beauty industry my clock started clicking. I needed to change industries to grow.

After ten years in the beauty industry my clock started clicking. I needed to change industries to grow.

I received very positive reviews during my time at Coty. So once I proved to myself I could succeed there, I started thinking about how to strengthen my career and stretch myself beyond my experience in research and beauty. I took a closer look at the senior executives around me, and those with whom I had worked with at Avon and I noticed a common thread. They all had very diverse backgrounds. There was not a single executive who had spent their entire career in one industry, one market, or one function.

I suddenly had a major aha moment: I needed to think about switching industries.

I decided to explore opportunities and came across a post for “Healthy Appearance” at Pfizer. The role focused on the functional skills of Consumer Insight professionals and noted skin care experience preferred. A few days after submitting my application and resume through Pfizer’s portal, I received an email from Human Resources which kicked-off a series of interviews.

Here's a great post on interview tips for when that time comes!
There a several aspects to consider before switching industries

There a several aspects to consider before switching industries

Key steps to switching industries 

1Before you switch industries, start with doing your research.

Think about how you would approach a major purchase such as a car. When we are in the market for a new car we typically research certain brands. Our exploration consists of extensive online searches, discussions with close friends and probing our extended network on social media. When you consider switching industries you should apply the same approach. Define what industries you’d like to explore and seek information around:

  • What’s going on in the industry? Get information such as, market share or ranking of the top competitors, the trends within the industry and how companies are responding. Dig deeper to understand what’s working well for the company and what have they identified as areas of opportunity. A good source for this is a company’s annual and quarterly earnings reports. This is public information.
  • Once you have identified the companies you’d like to apply for, look into their philosophy on talent development. A key signal that helped me determine whether a company fostered development of their associates was whether they had an Employee Resource Groups (ERG.) Keep in mind Fortune 500 companies may have ERGs/BRGs, but this might be less common in small to mid-size companies.  In this case, lean on online reviews and conversations with people in the network to get a sense of their talent development policies.
  • Use LinkedIn to browse through the profile of people who share your job function and role within the industry you want to change to. We often think switching to a new industry will require starting at a lower position. While this varies by industry, you will likely find out that you and your counterparts in other industries share a large skillset. Also, keep in mind, companies sometimes want an ‘outsider’ who can bring fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.
As with all major things in life, expanding your network can be very useful when you think of changing industries

As with all major things in life, expanding your network can be very useful when you think of changing industries

2Stepping out of your comfort zone to make connections is part of the process of switching industries

  • LinkedIn should be the top app in your phone during this process. The goal is to identify people who are currently employed or formerly employed by companies within your industry of interest. If your connections are limited then begin exploring 2nd and 3rd level connections on LinkedIn and see if a mutual contact can introduce you. If you have zero degrees of connections then upgrade to LinkedIn’s premium package so you can message the professionals you’re interested in reaching. In your initial message briefly introduce yourself, and kindly ask for 10-15 minutes of their time to get their perspective on the industry. Let them know you are considering opportunities in their industry and/or their company. You may have to follow-up a few times before you hear back. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Also, take a look at the organizations that your industry of interest is associated with or supports. Perhaps there are events you can attend to make connections.
  • When I applied to Pfizer, I immediately began to search within my network and expanded network to identify people to talk to. During this process I remembered that two years before I was connected to someone in pharma via email by a mutual acquaintance. Back then, the individual wanted feedback from me on a research project she was leading. She was looking for diversity of thinking from several industries to maximize her initiative. I was on her list! Fast forward two years, I remembered this occasion and wrote to her a brief note reminding her of our past exchange and voilà! I had a new contact who could give me industry insights.
  • At this stage of the process, keep in mind that the purpose is not for the individuals you connect with to get you a job, (though that could be a very nice outcome!) The purpose of this process is for you to get context about the industry and to get sense of the industry language. As you may know, there are nuances to each industry. The more you speak the industry lingo, the more likely it is that others will see you as a good fit.
Expanding your network to include men, is critical for career growth
Get context and insights on the industry you're considering to change to

Get context and insights on the industry you’re considering to change to

3Put it all together and re-frame your resume to better position yourself for the new industry

Now that you have taken the time to understand the industry you want to switch to, take a moment to determine what all of the information means for you. What changes, if any, do you need to make to your resume and on your LinkedIn profile to better position yourself?

Take stock of your skills and identify which ones are transferrable to the roles you are interested in. Amplify the skills that are foundational to your role and provide examples of how you used them to impact the business. Each function (i.e. marketing, accounting, finance, etc.) has skills that are considered fundamental. These fundamental skills do not change industry to industry and they are transferable.

For example, in the world of market research a foundational skill is the ability to synthesize custom and syndicated data. So, in my resume I provided concrete examples on how I did this globally and regionally to drive business impact. Just like these, you can easily transfer skills such as ability to influence, communicate, and problem solve. They are the cornerstones of any position.

The thought of switching industries may seem daunting. I will admit doing the work upfront to be better positioned for a new industry takes time and can be a challenging process. But look, if you’re ready to turbo charge your career and you’re ready to explore changing industries, I say go for it wholeheartedly. It took me several rounds of interviews and at the end, I was hired! And now that I’m involved with Advil, the global best-selling over-the-counter pain medication, I can honestly tell you it was worth every minute of preparation.

 

Sexual Harassment: A Companion Guide for Millennials

A few of my high-power girlfriends came over for dinner recently and by the end of the night we shared stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The question that led me to this post was: How do we prepare the next generation to protect themselves against it? Here are a few answers.

This is an unprecedented time. Not a day goes by without another top executive, celebrity, or powerful man being fired for allegations of sexual harassment. Yet, we all know this is just the tip of the iceberg. In a very large number of workplaces across the world, very regular people commit the same kinds of acts and don’t make it to the front pages of the New York Times or even to social media through the #metoo hashtag. And for each one of those cases that has not seen the light, there are victims, often women, who suffer in silence. Who think there’s nothing they can do because they’ll lose their jobs or their promotions if they make a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC First Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC First Part

Definition of Sexual Harassment

First and foremost, let’s clarify what’s sexual harassment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Second Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Second Part

A guide to sexual harassment for the new generation

You may have recently graduated or in the workforce for a few, short years. You may be thrilled to have a job and do what you like. How do you distinguish between teasing and sexual harassment? When does teasing become inappropriate behavior and how do you deal with it? Because, although the law is on your side, we all know that few things are simple. And if the person making you feel uncomfortable has the power to fire you, or get you fired, you’ll likely think twice before filing a formal complaint.

Here are some of the things that go on in most workplaces and that are usually okay

1Harmless teasing. Generally accepted by all employees as being well intentioned and light that doesn’t repeatedly offend someone, or a specific group.

2People commenting to each other how great they look. As long as the comments are intended as a nicety and have no sexual undertone.

3Depending on the culture of the individual, there may be a bit more touching while people speak. For example, Latinos are known for being a more “touching” culture. So as people talk, they’ll touch your arm to make a point, for instance.

 

Here are some of the behaviors that cross the line and would constitute sexual harassment

1Telling you how hot you are, or how hot you look in this or that outfit, or bending over to pick up something on the floor.

2Insinuations that if you were willing to do certain things for this person you’d be promoted or given special treatment, privileges, etc. (quid pro quo.)

3Open threats that if you don’t do some sexual favor you won’t get Y. Or worse, that you’d be fired.

4Someone exposing their genitals or masturbating in front of you.

5Insistent invitations to “go home” with someone after a professional function once you’ve turned them down. Or, such an invitation from a superior when there’s no mutual interest or consent.

6Insinuations that other women have accepted to do certain things in lieu of getting opportunities and because you don’t do the same, you’re being left behind.

7Inappropriate touch. Meaning, touching that makes you feel uncomfortable. This doesn’t necessarily have to come from your direct supervisor. It still constitutes sexual harassment if this unwanted touches come from a supervisor from a different area, a colleague, a client or someone you have to work with who doesn’t work in your own company.

8Ongoing sexual jokes that make for a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Third Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Third Part

How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in Real Life

You probably don’t work in Hollywood or in a large media company dealing with a celebrity. You’re just dealing with your colleagues and bosses in the place where you work day in and day out. So how do you distinguish whether what’s happening to you are normal, everyday interactions at work or sexual harassment? How do you stop it without losing your job despite having the law on your side?

Signs to look for

  • Repeated behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Others experience similar behavior from the same person. (But remember that you may be the only target of the inappropriate behavior, so don’t rule it out because nobody else seems to be experiencing the same.)
  • Sexual jokes are made at your expense privately to you, or in front of others.
  • The person implicitly or explicitly threatens your career or your job at your organization.
  • You feel unsafe at work.
  • Your promotions are stalled because you haven’t accepted open or implicit advances.

What to Do

  • Record in writing with as many details as you can, every situation of sexual harassment you are a target of or that you witness in your workplace.
  • If possible, talk to the perpetrator and make it clear that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable.
  • If the perpetrator is not your supervisor but it is part of your team, speak to your supervisor.
  • If you can’t talk to the perpetrator, and /or to your supervisor, approach your HR team and file a formal complaint. Ask for the employee manual and review the policies there. You might find additional steps that you can take.
  • File a complaint with the EEOC. Depending of where you work, you have 180 or 300 days from the time of the sexual harassment took place to file a complaint with the EEOC.
  • Talk to your friends about it. It’s important to have a support system, as being the target of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace can be very stressful and impact your self-esteem.

The alcohol effect

It’s a fact. Alcohol has the effect of loosening inhibitions. The amount of alcohol someone consumes before crossing the line of becoming inappropriate or abusive depends on many factors: your biology and your temperament, among others. What’s important to notice is that sometimes, people who are drunk (slightly or completely) may behave in very inappropriate and even criminal ways. Whether they realize it or not, it’s a different story. So two recommendations here: If you are on the receiving end of a drunk perpetrator who harasses you, the behavior still constitutes sexual harassment. And if you are the one drinking in a work-related function, be aware that you may become inappropriate with others without you even noticing. This behavior may affect your personal brand and future opportunities at a minimum and have legal consequences at worst.

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Fourth Part

Sexual Harassment definition by EEOC Fourth Part

One poignant sexual harassment story

I will keep real identities and employers out of this post and the next one that I will write with your stories on sexual harassment, to protect those who haven’t come out with them. The names below have all been changed.

Mary’s Situation

Many years ago, when she was twenty something, Mary worked at XYZ TV. At a company party, one night, Joe, the Media Director of their Biggest Client’s Media Agency (and the Biggest Client’s Account Executive,) came up to Mary. He opened the V-neck of her dress and peered inside while making a comment: “Just making sure everything’s in order.” This was done in front of a group of mainly women, all of which stared at Mary waiting for her response. Horrified and terrified, Mary froze and couldn’t say or do anything.

How she dealt with the sexual harassment situation

Mary brought up the issue to her boss and to the President of XYZ TV. The answer she got from both men was: “Sorry, Mary. Joe’s a big executive at our Media Agency. He leads our Biggest Client account and we can’t do anything about it.”

Frustrated, Mary called Jackie, a woman she had met once before at the Biggest Client. She was the head of marketing. When Mary told her the story, Jackie knew immediately it was true. Not only did she believe Mary’s sexual harassment allegation, but she had also heard other women complain of Joe’s behavior before. Jackie went to her HR department and told them she wanted Joe fired as their Account Executive. A few days later, the CEO of Biggest Client’s Media Agency (the company for which Joe worked) called Jackie. And here’s how Jackie easily convinced him to fire Joe. “Look Mr. CEO, this is bad business for you. We don’t want to be connected to a company that makes our colleagues feel unsafe. And you really don’t want to face a lawsuit by an employee at one of your Biggest Clients or at one of our media partners.” Joe was fired.

Summing it up

It’s often hard to talk or react at the moment when sexual harassment is taking place. It can be a paralyzing or embarrassing situation where you may freeze as Mary did. What’s important is that you don’t let it slide. That you don’t feel that you did something wrong. Mary was the victim in this situation, but she didn’t remain as a passive recipient of this inappropriate and illegal behavior. She took action and kept at it until the perpetrator was fired.

She spoke the day after it happened with her boss. When she didn’t find the answer she was looking for, Mary tapped her network. She built rapport with a woman who worked with one of the interested parties. In this case, it was not even the company where the perpetrator worked. Jackie knew the best way to get this taken care of quickly was to build a business case. Unfortunate but true, many times this is what it takes to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. When people understand it’s bad for business, they tend to act faster.

Above all, avoid thinking that you’re being harassed because you’re too attractive or not attractive enough. That this is happening to you because you’re being punished for whatever reason. Or that you have to suffer in silence. Sexual harassment has nothing to do with your appearance and a lot to do with power. And most importantly, it’s a crime.

I’ll write a Part II with your own anonymous stories and how you dealt with them. The more we share, the quicker we’ll all learn how to make our workplaces safer for everyone. So please send your stories in! info@RedShoeMovement.com

 

 

Latina Entrepreneurs: This Organization Is Made For You! @LIBizus

For Latina entrepreneurs interested in growing their business, there are few people as focused on their challenges as Susana Baumann. Inspiring, generous and connected, her organization is making a difference for small women-owned businesses and the communities they serve. Get to know her!

A multicultural expert, award-winning business writer, public speaker and published author, Susana Baumann is the Founder and Director of LCSWorldwide, a Multicultural Marketing Communications consulting firm located in New Jersey. Susana is the Editor-in-Chief of her company’s new initiative, LatinasinBusiness.us, an online platform dedicated to the economic empowerment of the Latina working woman. The platform has received the attention and support of Latina leaders around the country including the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the New America Alliance (NAA), and the National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA). She has received the Latina Excellence Award, the TECLA Award for Best Business Blog at Hispanicize 2015, and was invited to become a media member of the NAA American Latina Leadership Caucus. In 2017, Susana Baumann was named a 2017 Latina of Influence by Hispanic Lifestyle Magazine.

Most importantly, Susana Baumann is a constant presence in initiatives that matter to Latina entrepreneurs, always ready to provide insights, support and visibility to those who need it most.

Susana Baumann supporting Latina entrepreneurs

Susana Baumann supporting Latina entrepreneurs

RSM— How does someone with your background in architecture and marketing communications decide to focus on Latina entrepreneurs?

Susana G Bauman (SB) — The beauty of moving to another country is the opportunity to find who you really are and what your purpose is. I studied Architecture in Argentina because my father chose that career for me. I had some inclination for the arts but he considered Architecture a more profitable career. I only worked as an architect for a few years and then I became a college professor.

When I had the opportunity to move to the US, I decided a professional accreditation would allow me to work here in something that I always loved, writing and publishing. So I went back to the student’s seat and finished a second Masters degree. My knowledge of English was also an advantage to find work as a bridge between Americans and a burgeoning Latino market that was still growing. I immediately recognized the opportunity to become the voice of many Latinos who didn’t or couldn’t speak for themselves.

After several jobs in corporate and public service, in 1996 I started a home-based, side business. I started as a small translation company but many of my clients had little understanding of the Latino market cultural nuances. A simple translation would not deliver their message. The business took a life of its own and we became a Multicultural Marketing Communications agency.

The focus on Latina entrepreneurs came later, only three years ago, as a result of my experience as a Latina small business owner, and the need to “pay it forward.” I launched LatinasinBusiness.us as my legacy to those young Latinas starting their own struggle as entrepreneurs, to help them overcome the obstacles I had to conquer on my own. Nobody needs to do this alone; there are many resources out there to help Latina entrepreneurs and small businesses if they reach out and show up.

Latina entrepreneurs are impacted by LIBizus

Latina entrepreneurs are impacted by LIBizus

The Role of Latina Entrepreneurs in the U.S. Economy

RSM— Why are Latina entrepreneurs a key segment of the U.S. economy?

SB— Latinas are, as everybody knows by now, the fastest growing demographic opening businesses in the U.S. Not everybody knows, however, that they have a high rate of failure as well. And their revenue growth is not as relevant as their white female counterparts –that extends to Latino male-owned businesses as well.

By helping them grow and sustain their businesses, not only we help them. We also help close a gap in the US economy (a gap that runs in the billions of collars,) of missed revenue and job creation opportunities. This could help the communities that Latina entrepreneurs serve, grow. Latina small businesses are American businesses. They represent almost 20% of 4.3M Latino-owned business across the country and these are big numbers!

Another successful Latina entrepreneur: Mariebelle!

RSM— What do you think are some advantages that Latina entrepreneurs have in this VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) business environment?

SB— The same advantages small business owners always have to hone! I will bring you another acronym, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). As a small business owner, you have to be constantly vigilant about everything that is happening around you, locally, nationally and internationally, so you can make the best decisions for your business. This principle allowed me to survive for over 20 years and constantly reinvent myself according to the circumstances and opportunities that presented themselves. An entrepreneur is a person who is constantly looking for innovation, improvement and to size up new opportunities!

Susana G Baumann, Editor-in-Chief LIBizus

Susana G Baumann, Editor-in-Chief LIBizus

Learning From Failure and What Can Latina Entrepreneurs Do Better

RSM— Understanding we are generalizing here, are there any particular areas where Latina entrepreneurs could make some adjustments to better reach their business goals?

SB— I speak about this all the time: Break out of your isolation and support each other. We work hard but tend to stay isolated, make our own decisions without bouncing off ideas of other entrepreneurs or business people. And sometimes, being your own advisor might not be the best advice!

Another important issue is that women need to support each other, something men do very well. Women tend to be more judgmental with each other –again, generalizing- and decide in the first three minutes of meeting someone if they like them or not. This judgment is usually made as a response to the other person’s appearance. We need to stop those behaviors, become more socially adept and find good in every person we meet. They might have qualities we don’t have that can help us grow as a person and as a business!

RSM— What have you learned from your own failures as a Latina entrepreneur?

SB— Looking back, when I started my business I had the idea that I was invincible and I was never going to fail. HA! I was hit hard many times. Some situations were of my own making –such as when we had to fold our beautiful bilingual newspaper Periódico Latino, because we couldn’t sustain it. Others were circumstances out of my control –such as the Great Recession of 2008-2010. In both instances, I stayed in the pity-pot for a while, and then I picked up myself and reinvented my business. Once at the bottom, I didn’t feel I had a choice other than going up. I just had to work smarter and even harder, be very persistent. Having a business involves a lot of sacrifices, long hours, lost vacation opportunities, little social life, plus being constantly on the look out for opportunities and for those who can provide them.

Learning from a famous woman entrepreneur: Randi Zuckerberg
Latina entrepreneurs with Susana Baumann

Latina entrepreneurs with Susana Baumann

RSM— You offer a wonderful opportunity for Latina entrepreneurs to pitch their business and learn a ton of insights from leaders in the field. Tell us about the Latina Small Business Expo.

SB— After two successful years of conducting our “Pitch Your Business to the Media” competition, we have added the Latina SmallBiz Expo to this annual event. We want to celebrate and showcase the power of Latina entrepreneurs in the region, the driving force of many markets such as beauty, retail, clothing, telephone services, food and beverage, financial services and many more.

As I said before, Latina entrepreneurs and small businesses work in isolation. We need to get them out of that isolation and help them find the resources they need to succeed. This is another reason we have the Latina SmallBiz Expo: To bring resources such as IFundWomen, a national organization that runs crowfunding campaigns only for women’s businesses, and the Union County Economic Development Corporation (UCEDC), which is offering a discounted rate business loan through the Tory Burch Foundation. Both organizations will take applications at our event so I encourage those who are looking for funding not to miss this unique opportunity.

One last comment: We encourage the general public to attend this great event and choose LSBEPuertoRico General Admission ($10) at online registration ($15 at the door). Those tickets will be donated in full to Puerto Rico Disaster Relief. To register and for information: https://latinasbizexpo.eventbrite.com/

You can connect with Susana Baumann via social media

Twitter: @LIBizus

Facebook: LatinasinBusiness.us

FB Discussion group: We are LatinasinBusiness.us

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susanabaumann/

LinkedIn Page: LatinasinBusiness.us Discussion Group

 

Ladies: Find Your Dream Job with Fairygodboss by Your Side

If you’re ready to find your dream job you landed on the right page. Meet the people who are connecting women to great places to work.

How often have you tried and failed to find your dream job stepping instead into another organization ill prepared to nurture your potential? The truth is that until fairly recently, it wasn’t that easy to know enough about a company’s culture before you signed up for the position. Much harder to figure out how committed to a woman’s career trajectory it was. But Fairygodboss is changing that with a marketplace where professional women looking for jobs, career advice and the inside scoop on companies meet employers who believe in gender equality.

Today we talk to Georgene Huang, Fairygodboss’s CEO and co-founder, a leader obsessed with improving the workplace for women. A graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities, Georgene ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones and was a Managing Director at Bloomberg Ventures before co-founding her new venture.

Georgene Huang CEO Fairygodboss

Georgene Huang CEO Fairygodboss

RSM— For a large part of your career you worked for large organizations. What prompted you to start Fairygodboss?

Georgene Huang (GH) —Fairygodboss was born from a personal experience I had while job searching and two months pregnant. I was in an executive role, looking for a job and not telling people in my interviews that I was pregnant. I wanted to ask about maternity leave policies, how much face time a company required, how flexible it was in terms of working hours and whether there were women and other mothers in senior management. I felt that asking these questions outright was taboo in 2015 and is still taboo in 2017. It meant risking negative judgments of myself even though I was — and remain — incredibly career oriented.

Fairygodboss is a safe place where women can hear from other women about their job and workplace experiences and ask questions of each other without worrying about judgment. You may get different opinions from women on Fairygodboss but everyone will give it to you straight.

Fairygodboss a marketplace to improve workplaces for women

Fairygodboss a marketplace to improve workplaces for women

How hard is it to find your dream job?

RSM— What makes it challenging if you are a woman to find your dream job?

GH— Women still face an unequal playing field for a number of social and cultural reasons even at the most egalitarian and inclusive of companies. Women in our society tend to bear the brunt of caretaking (whether for children, relatives or parents.) As a result, many women tend to have more to juggle in their lives beyond work and if you find a dream job, it often comes with demands that you are always on, always present and available. This is completely compatible with caretaking if the company allows you to be flexible and has a supportive culture and policies — but it can be hard to figure this out in advance.

A great read on best ways to find a job by Susan Landon.

RSM— How exactly does Fairygodboss help women find their dream jobs?

GH— Everyone’s dream job looks slightly different. Some want the corner office and executive role while for others, a dream job is simply one where their work-life balance, vacations and paid time off are respected, and they are paid and promoted fairly at the same time. We don’t assume any individual woman wants the same thing as another woman, which is why our platform let’s women’s individual voices speak for themselves. Fairygodboss’ role is to let women’s opinions help other women figure out whether a job, department or company is the right employer for them.

Fairygodboss can help you find your dream job

Fairygodboss can help you find your dream job

RSM— What are some of the most candid insights women share about their workplaces on your site that they don’t on others?

GH— A small group of women bravely discuss sensitive and personal topics such as sexual harassment experiences or learning about being paid unequally to men doing similar work (or even that report to them.) Some of them will share what their manager or HR did in response to complaints about these things. Thankfully this is a minority of women in our community. Most seem to hold and share balanced views about things their employers are getting right and areas where they could improve. A lot of women also tend to weigh in their salaries, work-life balance, flexibility, the promotion track for women and whether there is a good maternity leave policy. We’ve created crowd-sourced databases around each of these topics as a result.

RSM— Your website offers inside scoops on pay, benefits and culture. Is all this information posted by individual users or do you gather independent info as well?

GH— Almost all of the information on our site about pay, benefits and culture comes from female employees’ mouths, directly. The only places that are an exception to this are official company profiles (labeled clearly as such) where employers that Fairygodboss partners with elect to share that information from their point of view.

RSM— As a woman, what should you look at when evaluating an organization where you might find your dream job?

GH— You should do all your homework. Use Fairygodboss to read what other women say, and to connect with women who work at a company (you can message women anonymously in our community if you sign up and leave a job review yourself.) However, don’t just stop there if you’re seriously trying to find your dream job. Talk to people in your personal network, ask them to introduce you to others who’ve worked there and read everything you can about the company even from an editorial, news or social media perspective. Try to see if what you hear and read is relatively consistent across different sources to get at the truth of what it’s like to work somewhere.

Georgene Huang CEO & co-founder Fairygodboss

Georgene Huang CEO & co-founder Fairygodboss

RSM— Do you see real efforts being made by organizations towards attracting and retaining more women? What are some of those efforts you’ve seen?

GH— Yes, absolutely. Our mission at Fairygodboss is to improve the workplace for women. We do this by creating transparency and highlighting best practices at employers, so obviously we have learned about some amazing programs employers are using to attract and retain women. Women share openly with us what they think works and employers tend to ask us what other employers do, as well.

We’ve heard that mentorship and sponsorship programs are incredibly important to individual women. Women care a lot about the ability to have and take maternity leave — and think its important their companies also offer gender neutral benefits so that the probability of taking a full, extended parental leave is not stigmatizing. Flexibility and flexible working policies that are official (as opposed to case-by-case depending on your manager) are also viewed as very important by women who have care-taking responsibilities or strong outside work interests. Any employer who has been brave enough to tackle the issue of equal pay and correcting any discrepancies in this area (e.g. Salesforce and their pay gap audit) are also seen to be taking real action to improve gender quality.

Great piece on how to prepare for a job interview by Lily Benjamin
Fairygodboss a a place to find your dream job

Fairygodboss a a place to find your dream job

RSM— Your site is a job board as well. Do companies review resumes submitted on line? Any suggestions on how to use the job board to maximize the potential to find your dream job?

GH— Yes we list jobs from companies who are our partners — by definition, they are companies that are committed to transparency and gender equality. Our partners connect their job listings to our site and every company’s application process is unique, but in general requires a resume to be submitted to them. You can always send an email to us at info@fairygodboss.com if you don’t see a job opportunity that you’re interested in but want us to keep an eye out for you. Next year, we’ll be starting to match candidates and employers based on profiles that users may create with us, so keep an eye out for that!

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4 Benefits for Men Who Support Women All the Way to the Top

In a room full of women the handful of men who attended this breakfast with red ties and red shoes will be remembered by all of them. As the men who support women all the way to the highest levels of their company, these champions will reap benefits unavailable to those who stay on the sidelines.

Let me be clear about my agenda with this post. I’d like to encourage more men to support women’s pursuit of decision-making positions by revealing what’s in it for them. Yes, many of us would prefer for men to contribute to leveling the playing field because it’s the right thing to do or the just thing to do. Or because they actually believe it benefits organizations and society at large. Or because having daughters have changed the way they see the world.

But there’s so much that needs to be done to move the inclusion needle at the highest levels and so much to make any gains stick, that I’m not choosy. Be part of the solution because you’re convinced it’s a win-win for everyone to gain gender parity at the top or because you realize there are a lot of benefits for you in playing an active role. Either way, if you are in, we all win.

We should be treating gender equality like any other business challenge. There's a great opportunity for men who support women all the way to the top.

We should be treating gender equality like any other business challenge. There’s a great opportunity for men who support women all the way to the top.

Here are 4 benefits for men who support women all the way to the C-suite

1Exposure and increased influence

Men who level the playing field have a huge advantage: They are in a minority. As such, you get a ton of visibility. In addition, we all know the power of espousing another group’s causes. It tends to lend credibility to the cause and to you as the one speaking up about it, as you’re perceived as having little to gain from supporting someone else’s cause. It’s why it’s always so effective when straight people support the rights of gay people, when whites stand up against injustices perpetrated on non-whites, and when Jews stand next to Muslims when they’re being discriminated against and vice-versa.

So, whatever you do as a man who supports gender equality in the workplace you will attract attention to the issue and to yourself. You could be a strong catalyst for change (as Sergio Kaufman, CEO, Hispanic South America, Accenture clearly is,) by demanding that the gender issue be treated as any other business issue. With metrics that measure actual progress, by setting up goals for each leader in the organization and by making them accountable for reaching the specific goals. Hopefully 50/50 men and women all the way to the C-suite.

Here’s a list of men who openly support women
Men who support women to the top show their support in many ways. For starters, they support #RedShoeTuesday. From Left to Right: Francisco Rozo, Novartis; Dino Troni, Coca-Cola; Miguel Alemany, P&G

Men who support women to the top show their support in many ways. For starters, they support #RedShoeTuesday. From Left to Right: Francisco Rozo, Novartis; Dino Troni, Coca-Cola; Miguel Alemany, P&G

2Take the credit for achieving the change

Given the state of affairs in most large organizations, if you really wanted to make the achievement of gender equality your legacy, you could probably do it. You could use the large body of research available to make the business case.

The first step, however, should be to find out the real experience regarding growth opportunities of female talent across your organization. Discover areas of improvement, unconscious biases of the current leadership and all talent that may be affecting women’s possibilities to reach their full potential. In other words, do your due diligence as you would with any other business challenge.

If gender equality were treated with the same seriousness as all other business issues, we would’ve resolved this crisis decades ago. Why not be the first in your organization and one of the very few leaders worldwide who is credited for having accomplished equality in a few, short years?

How long must we wait until gender equality is approached like any other business issue?

How long must we wait until gender equality is approached like any other business issue?

3Media opportunities

If your goal is expand your influence outside your organization, being one of the few men who openly talks about this can give you a great story to share with the media. Obviously, you must first walk the walk. Make things happen in your company. Be the change you propose.

Sure, you can talk about the importance of more inclusion at the top and the obstacles that get in the way and that, in itself, will bring you visibility. As I was saying, there are not enough men out there speaking out about this topic. But if you seek real influence, your actions, beliefs and words must be aligned. People, particularly those who work with you, will quickly turn against you if they feel you’re using this sensitive topic to attract attention to yourself while doing nothing to change the status quo in your workplace.

At an in-house leadership training for Novartis Andean Region, men show up in red ties, socks and shoes to openly show support for women's career growth.

At an in-house leadership training for Novartis Andean Region, men show up in red ties, socks and shoes to openly show support for women’s career growth.

4 A large group of colleagues supporting your career ambitions

It goes without saying that once men come out of the closet as open supporters of women career growth those same women along with tend to reciprocate. They can become your strongest allies to help you co-create change in the organization and help you personally achieve your own career ambitions. As long as they see your intentions and actions sincere, they will become your advocates and contribute to building your reputation as a true champion of inclusion.

The secret to develop this strong group of women supporters is to be equal partners. Leave any patriarchal instinct behind. Don’t support women’s career growth with thoughts of them needing your protection out of being weak. Or because you think they can’t do it alone.

Do it from a sense of fairness. After all, you wouldn’t want to win a game of foosball because the table is inclined towards your side, would you? You’d want to claim you won fair and square because you’re the best player.

That’s all women in the workplace have been asking. To have once and for all a level playing field so they can play with equal terms. So they can truly reach their full potential and go as far as they choose to in the workplace.

If you are one of the executives currently leading the way in gender equality, let us know. We are already working on our 2018 Hall of Fame.