Each year on March 8, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day to commemorate the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women.
According to the International Women’s Day committee, prime employers for women exhibit the following qualities:
- Demonstrate executive leadership commitment to gender equality
- Embrace a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion
- Forge a female hiring pipeline from early career to executive level
- Value and support flexible working arrangements
- Provide formal avenues to address any concerns of bias
- Ensure women’s inclusion from supply chain through to decision making
- Ensure marketing and communications are consistently free of stereotyping
- Provide external support for women’s advancement
- Monitor progress and outcomes from diversity initiatives
- Participate in external validation of progressive employer practice
We recently sat down with Kelle O’Neal, First San Francisco Partners’ CEO, to discuss women in the workplace and what this means at FSFP.
A Culture of Gender Equality
Kelle says gender equality is a no-brainer here. “If you don’t have executive leadership commitment to gender equality, you’re limiting your growth potential,” says Kelle.
FSFP is currently focusing on embracing a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. One aspect is equal pay for equal work. FSFP also recognizes that being inclusive goes a lot deeper; it’s about making a comfortable workplace for all women.
As a company culture, FSFP strives to have women playing roles at all levels within our company. We have female recruiters, so from the first point of contact employees have with FSFP, women are represented. Having women at all levels, from intern to CEO and most places in between, is an instinctive choice that helps make us who we are.
We also work to avoid any unconscious gender bias. “We sometimes forget how biased we are as humans,” Kelle says, “and for an organization, it can be hard to self-reflect and align specific actions with their intentions. But we’re working to eliminate bias in 2022 and have already taken actions to do so.”
Flexibility at Work Matters to Women
Studies show that women, in particular, value flexibility at work. Ingrained into FSFP’s DNA is the value and support of flexible working arrangements. We are fully remote and have been since we were founded 15 years ago. We’re flexible when it comes to location and time of day. “We do want people to be generally available during working hours,” Kelle says, “but if for some reason you can’t be available because of child pick-up or drop-off or doctor’s appointments, there’s the opportunity to work other hours to accommodate different schedules as opposed to the expectation that it’s nine to five within a specific time zone.”
Kelle notes that, societally, a lot of responsibility is placed on women to provide childcare and eldercare. Choosing where work gets done can help ease stress. She says the ability to work from a location that’s closer in vicinity, not just to your children but also to your parents, can make all the difference in job satisfaction.
Our Workplace: A Work in Progress
At FSFP, we are also aware of our limitations and areas for growth. Within our capacity as a small business, we do what we can. The International Women’s Day criteria for prime employers for women are great guidelines, but we’re conscious of what is doable for us. Based on the size and scale of your business, your ability to meet those 10 criteria may vary — and that’s okay.
Above all, we focus on the internal validation of the people who work in the organization. Each year, we survey employees to make sure everyone is comfortable and feels heard. “This year’s survey included a question about diversity, equity and inclusion,” Kelle says. “Getting feedback that this is an inclusive environment means our efforts are visible.”
Diversity participation across all levels of the company in terms of gender, race and background is something we truly value and emphasize. This International Women’s Day, we thank all of the women who make FSFP so successful and the other great women in our lives.