Executive offices and meeting rooms have evolved over the course of recent decades. Legal pads, ashtrays and cufflinks have been replaced with tablets, espresso cups and Fitbits.
But perhaps the most notable change is the unprecedented number of women taking seats at those offices and meeting rooms, alongside male colleagues.
While this is a big step in gender equality for working women, it certainly won’t be the last. There’s more progress to be made when it comes to connecting women with jobs that, historically, have been held by men.
But the movement to include women in nontraditional gender roles is amplifying and the conversation surrounding it is growing louder.
In 2014, a new mom was following this conversation from a numerical point of view. Using data to solve problems was a big part of her high-level management position at The Motley Fool, a financial services company headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. When looking at research about women in the workplace, Ursula Mead noticed a weakness in the data. It was mostly subjective, asking broad questions about women and their work experiences.
Mead wondered what kind of data would actually make progress on gender inequality and decided to build something that might succeed in doing so. Out of that curiosity, InHerSight was born. The online platform brings companies and women together with definitive, quantitative data.
Mead launched the site with Motley Fool co-workers Daniel Stapleton and Adam Hill. It started as a low-key, after-hours project, but quickly became too time consuming to limit to nights and weekends. When told about InHerSight, The Motley Fool loved the concept and became the lead investor in a seed round of funding, also allowing the startup to incubate in the office space.
The platform now has 45,000 users and over 8,500 companies, including names as big as Amazon, Google, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. Companies local to the Triangle, like Spoonflower and Broadreach, Inc., are also on the site.
Stapleton notes that the startup’s rapid growth affirms its usefulness to both women and companies.
Earlier this year, Mead and Stapleton decided to move InHerSight to American Underground in Durham after seeing opportunity in its reputation as a diverse space.
Mead says another motivator was “wanting to catch companies on the precipice of big growth to want to build their brands with women.”
American Underground is home to nearly 250 companies that hope to hire people and establish new company cultures.
This is possible with InHerSight's user-friendly website.
Users can enter the site for free and do one (or all) of three things: get matched to a company based on a list of what they value most, anonymously rate a current or former employer and explore thousands of companies’ scores and job listings.
These features available for both women and men, so companies can get a clear idea of what it means to promote an environment that works for all genders.
Mead says men can identify a company’s strengths and weaknesses from a different perspective. By bringing awareness to blind spots in a work environment, men can join in on the effort toward gender equality.
On the back end, companies can see how employees score them on a range of categories important to women—anywhere from maternity and adoption leave to salary satisfaction—so they can fix discrepancies and build on strengths. By claiming their page on the site, companies can add a profile with employment benefits and perks. They can also pay to have job listings added to the page. This feature is InHerSight’s sole source of revenue.
The platform redefines employer branding to be less one-sided. Anessa Fike, one of InHerSight’s first employer branding customers, says the site creates transparency between company-employee relations, so both sides can see what a workplace environment is really like.
Fike worked with Stapleton and Mead for years at The Motley Fool before moving to North Carolina to start her own recruiting firm. InHerSight came on her radar when a LinkedIn connection shared a post about it, but it wasn’t until later that she realized it was created by her old co-workers.
Currently, she's working with them to bring more companies to the site.
“We’re trying to continue the gender equality conversation by partnering with companies and helping them find future employees that fit well with their organizations,” Fike says.
The more InHerSight grows in user ratings and company involvement, the stronger its impact on workplace gender equality will be. For now, it will continue to offer a spot for women to voice what they need in the workplace, and for companies to listen.