One of the most overlooked areas where tech can support the monitoring of gender balance is the growth of social proofing platforms. Still, in their infancy, a couple of platforms are being launched which give greater credibility to grapevine commentary.
We have seen a general boom in recent years with the social proofing of services provided by organizations such as B & B hosts, restaurants, hotels, cab drivers and general service providers, via sites such as Air BnB, Trip Advisor, Uber, Booking.com, and Yelp. Many organizations openly and proudly advertise their Trip Advisor rating for example and consumers do factor it in. I do!
Web sites such as Payscale and Glassdoor have existed for some time benchmarking salary levels by both job title and geography. Now we are seeing the development of platforms offering social proofing opportunities specifically for women to give more detailed feedback on their overall employment experiences. Addressing areas such as parenting leave, the percentage of women in leadership roles, training and development opportunities, as well pay equity, women now have the possibility to post what could be described as exit interview feedback in the public domain.
FairyGodboss is a data crowdsourcing platform to rank companies for the professional experiences and conditions they offer women. They have identified top industries for “gender equality, women’s job satisfaction, and the ones women would recommend to other women.” PR, Cosmetics, and Hospitality are apparently the leading industries when it comes to women’s perceptions of gender equality at work. This gives women an opportunity to research organizations and make informed decisions based on the comments of other women.
On Inhersight.com, users rank their workplace experience across 14 criteria including maternity leave, salary satisfaction, and wellness. The platform’s rating system is similar to sites such as Glassdoor, TripAdvisor Inc., and other crowdsourced feedback sites. It aggregates anonymous user-generated data to guide women to make “smarter decisions”.
These scorecards collate industry trends and make it easy for women to make comparisons between one company and another. Some tech companies offer great perks for women but still score low on leadership opportunities.
Enhance employer brand
At the HR Tech World conference in Paris, Leighanne Levensaler, SVP Products at WorkDay, suggested that increasingly women are asking at the interview stage what it was like to be a mother at Workday. Ideally, men would be asking about that too! Well, now they can find out online. These platforms also offer employers the opportunity to manage their own scorecards. They can see where they sit in relation to other companies in their sector, even their competitors. It gives them the opportunity to improve their competitive edge to attract women into their organizations. A compilation of individual stories creates insights and gives credibility to word of mouth feedback and gossip which might circulate about individual experiences. What it should do is identify a pattern of experiences.
Is social proofing the way forward?
There is a degree of skepticism. This is to be expected because the trend is to back hard data. The number of subscribers to websites such as these is also still relatively small. Satisfaction is also subjective and difficult to measure. One employee’s experience of a workplace culture or situation may be received differently by a colleague. But there is no doubt that if 200 women comment on a lack of promotion or training opportunities that this will have a greater impact than one person mentioning the same issue in a bar. Companies would be foolish not to pay attention in terms of their employer brand and talent management strategies. It gives them the opportunity to focus on specific issues and directly address them.
For job seekers, these platforms are another source of information in any thorough research process on a potential employer. All women should be fully informed. But it’s also a good idea to talk to the people who are currently working in an organization as well as assessing the comments of the women who have left and then make an informed decision.
One woman’s poison may indeed be another’s dream company. We live in an era where massive investment in diversity and data-driven unconscious bias training, seems to barely shift the gender balance needle. So if a woman gets that a subjective “a-ha” moment looking at these platforms then this will be a step forward. This formalizes the grapevine and perhaps gives the feedback more credibility. They also help women navigate the unwritten rules of male-coded organizations which many women find challenging.
For ex-employees, these platforms offer a unique opportunity to make their opinions felt. And without stereotyping, we are great communicators.