It’s time to think differently about how you recruit the right talent.
By Kim Chappell (Manager of PR and Community Development, Weebly)
Being a “woman in tech” seems to be getting a lot of hype lately. Lawsuits. Quotas. Bro-code driven startups and VCs. It’s a drumbeat of headlines that follows the metronome of most buzz-worthy news: The focus is on the click-driven negative rather than the positive.
Well, how’s this for a headline you’ll never see: “Tech Companies Are Creating a Welcoming Culture for Women… and Families.”
The fallout of the negative buzz is actually uplifting; companies are more aware than ever of striking a female-friendly balance in their office culture. Thinking about it, addressing it head-on and planning for it is now a no-brainer for any new startup. And it’s not just for newbies to the scene. Veteran companies should also make sure they’re adapting and embracing this cultural shift.
CEO and co-founder of Weebly, David Rusenko, admits it was not on the top of his to-do list when he and his two college buddies launched the website-building company nine years ago.
“We were living off microwavable mac and cheese and were just trying to get by and get Weebly off the ground, our ‘culture’ was one of survival,” he said.
But as the company grew (last valued at $455 million with 200+ employees), the culture grew up too. Priorities changed from surviving to thriving as a diverse, approachable and female-friendly office.
“It starts by diversifying from the top down. Having women in leadership roles broadens perspectives and is a catalyst for attracting other talented women in the industry,” said Rusenko. “And at the end of the day, everyone is interested in opportunities to grow, learn and feel challenged on the job and it’s important to create a space where that is the norm.”
So how did Weebly do it, and how can you? Here are Rusenko’s three tips for any company, new or old.
1. Make Events Family Friendly
We all love to kick it on a Friday and forget any stress over a beer with coworkers. That’s what happy hour is all about!
But at Weebly, we wanted it to be an opportunity for husbands, wives, girlfriends, kids and even the baby Weeblies to come and be a part of our work family. It was important to create a social space where parents won’t be calling “earmuffs!” to their kids.
Things like game night, baseball outings, cookie decorating, t-shirt screen printing and even learning to pickle vegetables are some of the events we’ve held for Weebly Happy Hour. We also recently celebrated “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” so kids could understand where mom and dad go all day. Our team worked to create fun projects like making stuffed animals and parents were proud to introduce their kids to the team.
2. Make It a Priority to Recruit and Promote Women
If you’re not actively recruiting and promoting women in the workplace, your company is likely suffering. Several studies have shown that the more diversified the leadership, the more productive and financially successful your business will be.
At Weebly, we have a policy of Radical Respect + Honesty = Trust. You have to truly take respect seriously and it will go a long way to to make the environment welcoming to everyone. Be mindful of this early on, the more you fall behind the harder it is to catch up.
3. Create a Healthy Workplace
This is something that everyone can appreciate and every company can accomplish. We’re lucky enough to have an on-site gym, but you don’t necessarily need one to be “healthy.”
One of the women on our staff knew a great yoga instructor who now comes in and teaches a class once a week. We also wanted to embrace women who are starting a family with a new mothers’ nursing room. Creating a private space has been huge help for several of our new Weebly moms and it’s pretty imperative for any company that wants to keep that work-life balance for women in the workplace.
Hopefully, little changes implemented at companies will make eventually make a big impact; then the “Women in Tech” struggle will be nothing more than a throwback headline that is so 2014.
About the guest blogger: Kim Chappell is the head of storytelling and community development at Weebly in San Francisco. For industry insight, site creator stories or to connect with the co-founders you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.