Candidates: Are you interviewing and need support?
I am a mom, a woman, and member of the leadership team here at Hirevue. Each one of those identities is really important to me, and I have a confession to make: I used to get really offended when people asked me how I balanced work and family.
I’ve been asked countless times how I can focus on big projects at work and then “shut it off” to be a mom and a woman again (as if those things stop the moment I begin working). No one was asking my male colleagues this type of question, and while I know the questions were well-intentioned, I would bristle when asked who would watch my son while I traveled.
Now, a few years later, I rarely pass up the chance to answer these questions because I see how sharing my personal experience of balancing motherhood and career can help other working moms. The truth is that being a mom while building a career can be messy and exasperating, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and exactly what I want. It’s critical that anyone in leadership – particularly gatekeepers to opportunity like recruiters and hiring managers – make changes that bring more working mothers into their organizations and then keep them there with inclusive choices.
I believe there is nothing more important than living an authentic life – both at home and at work – and it is so critical to work in an environment that not only encourages this, but expects it. For me this means embracing my so-called feminine side and being unabashedly myself as a leader and colleague. Educator Nancy Rathburn said, “A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”
Being empathetic and nurturing are incredible traits, and it’s imperative that job descriptions and performance evaluations are assessed to ensure that they’re not devaluing certain ways of working because they are typically associated with women. In HireVue’s scientifically validated competency modeling, we assess for critical skills like emotional intelligence and relationship building – two skills often associated with women and previously devalued.
Who among us hasn’t needed to adjust something at work for one of life’s curveballs? It’s all a part of being human, but the fact is that those curveballs come more frequently for caregivers, and leaders need to build flexibility and understanding into work whenever possible to accommodate people on their teams. When my son was younger, before remote working was as common as it is today, flexibility meant starting my work day early when my nanny arrived, and taking Zoom calls from the living room after she left. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that option.
You won’t be surprised to hear that I think flexibility must start with more inclusive hiring. I wouldn’t interview for a role where I couldn’t control my interview schedule, and you shouldn’t either. In fact, 50% of all interviews on the HireVue platform happen after hours or on the weekends – imagine the missed opportunities if this wasn’t the case.
After a person accepts a job offer, flexibility can take many forms. Whether it’s offering a shift exchange for frontline workers or being vocal that cameras can be off and meetings can happen on the go, these policies go a long way toward opening up opportunities for well-qualified working moms to bring their talent into open roles.
A 2020 analysis by Mercer identified a poor pipeline for women in leadership – while there are more female executives today than ever before, it’s still not enough. This is where I issue a challenge to every female leader out there: participate in mentorship programs, create one if it’s not available, and lift up your colleagues when a woman has the courage to make her voice heard and share her desires for growth.
And that challenge goes to male allies too – we need your help to solve this pipeline problem.
If you have a job description in your control, go in there right now and remove unnecessary education and job experience requirements. And while you’re at it, remove the resume requirement completely so moms who took time off to raise babies aren’t penalized for resume gaps. Instead replace it with skill-based assessments that look solely at job-related competencies.
Imagine a world where we didn’t think in terms of open requisitions, but rather, we looked at business goals and matched the best talent to opportunity in order to achieve them. More inclusive hiring and better workplaces are possible – because we all have the power to make positive changes where we work. Let’s start today.