This is an influencer post by Caterina Fake, Founder & CEO of Findery; Cofounder of Flickr & Hunch
There has been a lot of discussion about how to recruit and retain women in tech jobs, where we are woefully underrepresented, and Fortune magazine even wrote an article recently about how I’ve been able to recruit women — even turning many away — at my startup. It comes down to creating a culture that is friendly to women, where they feel empowered, and valued. If you company is mostly male, you will have to work extra hard to create a women-friendly culture, where women don’t feel they are “different”. In another article in Fortune, 27% of women surveyed left their tech jobs due to “overt or unintentional discriminatory/hostile work environments, including many describing the simple inability to “fit in” to a homogeneous culture or environment that was predominantly male, white and “different”.” This is a thorny problem to fix, but it is doable.
Maternity leave policies are a factor, as the article notes. Though Findery is a startup, we have both maternity and paternity leave policies. Many think maternity leave is a significant indication that you value women’s work, but having a paternity leave policy equal to that of the women on your team is just as important. You’re saying through your policies that caring for children and other family members the responsibility of both men and women — and also that your company’s work is the responsibility of both men and women. One of our senior engineers is currently on paternity leave. I hadn’t known that this would be perceived as a radical idea until I mentioned it in an interview, and immediately had reporters calling me to talk about it. In many countries outside the U.S., it’s taken for granted.
Etsy’s work in creating a friendly place for women in tech should be widely emulated. While Etsy has a significant advantage by having a product, and being a marketplace that appeals to women, it has done a fantastic job of recruiting women into its ranks, especially into its engineering team. The main takeaways are these: Don’t just sit and wait for women to apply for jobs. Make sure your company is friendly to women. Let it be known that you are interested in recruiting and retaining women. Build your own pipeline for applicants.
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