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What Women Want

What are the best companies to work for if you're a woman in 2021? Female-focused employee review site Fairygodboss is a good place to start. Co-founder and president Romy Newman join the boys and dives into the survey, which outlines companies from tech to finance to consulting and more. And if you didn't make it onto a Best of list this year, Romy tells you how you might get on the list in 2022.


INTRO (1s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel (22s):

Oh yeah. What's up boys and girls at your favorite podcast AKA the Chad and Cheese podcast kind or fellows to Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my partner in crime Chad Sowash and today we are just giddy like school girls to welcome Romy Newman, president and co-founder of Fairy God Boss.

Chad (43s):

There she is.

Joel (44s):

Romy, it's been a minute. It's been a minute. How are you?

Romy (47s):

I'm good. And I love the round of applause. It almost makes me feel pre-COVID

Joel (51s):

'Cause we? We could do, we could mix it up. We could dim the lights anyway. Yeah. COVID how's it treating you? How's the company? Give us a quick status of a Fairy God Boss, and then we'll get into some of the news here.

Romy (1m 6s):

I'm well, I'm really proud to say that Fairy God Boss has grown so much. We're 70 employees now! We have over 200 customers and we've got about 2 million women visiting our site every month. So I think, you know, I choke a lot. Then when we first had this idea kind of back in 2016, people would say, why would women need their own career site? And I think the world has sort of realized why, now.

Chad (1m 34s):

Because people that were asking the questions were old white men, that's why.

Romy (1m 40s):

Possibly, but I'm really proud of the community that we built, the participation we have from our users. I'm proud of the companies that we've worked with and the effort that they're putting forward toward being more inclusive, more diverse, more equitable. And I think we've seen such a change in focus and such a genuine appetite for improving diversity across the many companies.

Chad (2m 4s):

Let's talk about some of those companies. You have a list where you talk rankings for the best companies for women in 2021, we're starting to wrap up 2021, so it's time to get those rankings out there. How do you actually come about this list first and foremost? What goes into it? What data points, et cetera, et cetera.

Romy (2m 24s):

Yup. So, you know, while today we're really a peer to peer community, our legacy or our history, we started out collecting free anonymous job reviews for women by women because we believe that the experiences women have or having maybe different. And we know that women looking for jobs want to hear from other women who work at companies to understand their experiences. So we still have those reviews. We ask 15 structured questions about things like, do you feel you're treated fairly? Do you feel your CEO supports diversity? What advice would you give to another woman who's working here?

Romy (3m 5s):

And so at the end of the year, we take all the reviews we've received and based on three key questions, we ranked the company. So it's driven entirely based on employee reviews and driven entirely based on three dimensions. One is, do you feel you're treated fairly? One is, would you recommend this company to other women? And one is on a scale of one to five - how satisfied are you with this job?

Chad (3m 32s):

Gotcha. Gotcha. So not to sound like Mel Gibson, but what do women want when it comes to a company? Take a look at number one is Power House Remodeling, never heard of this company ever in my life, dug deep into the website, the profile. I mean, they do some really, really cool shit, not just for women, but even for veterans and so on and so forth. How does powerhouse remodeling get the number one slot, especially on a brand we don't even know?

Romy (4m 2s):

Yeah. I mean, I think that just goes to show the endorsement that its employees wanted to make for it, because a lot of the companies that win these awards are those whose employees have really gone to bat, run internal campaigns to leave reviews and that sort of thing. Often it's through their employee resource groups, but you know, what do women want? So I think above all, they want equitable treatment and I think they want opportunities, and I think increasingly they don't want to be the only woman in the room. I think at this moment in time, particularly flexible scheduling is so critical.

Romy (4m 42s):

You may know this really disappointing, terrible statistic, but approximately 3 million women exited the workforce in 2020, that brought us back. You guys are 1980s music fans and we are back now in the 1980s in terms of workforce participation among women. So all of the progress of the last 30 years basically was eradicated due to the COVID pandemic, which is a sad, sad story. But one, I think, you know, when we look at why that happened, it was because really a collapse of childcare due to both school closures and then also structurally kind of a dearth of childcare providers.

Romy (5m 31s):

So basically what's happening is while the workforce is coming back and being repopulated, we continue to see record lows of women's workforce participation. So all that to be said, one of the main things we can do to get women back in the workforce is flexibility and accommodations, particularly while school schedules or childcare is harder to come by.

Joel (5m 52s):

Romy, I want to say that congratulations on the growth. It sounds like you're well on your way to Glassdoor money. I think that's a good thing. I think they were acquired for 1.6 billion a few years ago. So you're you're well, on your way.

Chad (6m 5s):

Temper expectations, Cheeseman.

Joel (6m 8s):

Yeah, temper my expectations.

Romy (6m 8s):

I like a high expectation.

Joel (6m 10s):

You like that? Okay. So one of the things, all the review sites do this, they feel very much like a PR grab or begging for media attention. It sounds like you guys have actually done some thought behind this to get some of this data. So I just want to give you a chance right now to say, Hey everybody, this is actually real for us. It's not just a plea for media attention.

Romy (6m 35s):

Oh, I mean, we're look, we are a for-profit venture back company, but we have a social mission and we're all about improving the workforce for women. I will just tell you, this is my personal passion, because I believe that our companies will function better with greater diversity. I believe our country will function better and have a higher GDP and better outcomes that our success. So this is a labor of love for me.

Joel (6m 58s):

Gotcha. So I want to talk about a little bit about the pandemic and what sort of occurred in response to that. We saw a serious decrease in the numbers of mothers that left the workforce. I think the chart that I saw was that working mothers dropped out of the labor force at a rate of 4%. Whereas men declined 1%. Are you guys seeing anything in the data in regards to more companies embracing mothers? And certainly we've talked about the mother project here on the show, the mom project that just got $80 million. So this is really focused. What are you seeing on your end at Fairy God Boss in regards to what companies are doing to embrace mothers?

Romy (7m 41s):

And it's interesting. I think the number one thing companies are doing is to allow for ongoing work from home or at least hybrid schedules. And it's interesting because I don't think that that work from home and flexible schedules are exactly the same thing. But I do think that work from home enables flexible schedules because the concept of FaceTime is just gone. And I will tell you, in my past career, I had a big job at a big company. And at this company I had to be in the office by 9:00 AM. Every day, everybody did. It was a rule. You were at your desk by 9:00, right?

Romy (8m 21s):

And my kids, if I wanted to drop them off at school, I wasn't going to be able to get there till 9:15. Right. And that 15 minutes meant everything to me. That 15 minutes was probably contributing to one of the factors why I eventually quit. Right. And how important really ultimately was that 15 minutes to the company? I could've stayed late or I could have found made up that time in the evening. There's so many ways I could've made up that 15 minutes if I needed to. Right. But you can see where sort of our historical notions of how work has to be, limit caregivers from doing the work they need to do in, in much too structured and rigid of a way.

Chad (9m 3s):

Talking about equity. Right. And we say, I've heard you say it a few times over now, do you think there might be a time in coming years when you can actually start to go at some of these companies and ask them to be more transparent, around pay? To demonstrate that they are a great place, an amazing place for women to work and not one where they're going to get, you know, bought on the cheap?

Romy (9m 28s):

I think it's a really good question. I hope so. I think there's sort of, two conjoin problems with that. One is willingness, of course, but then the other is data, right? And I think the data is really difficult to parse and it takes a village and you look at someone like Salesforce who's really stepped up to address it and it was an enormous data project. But yeah, I mean, I absolutely hope so. I also hope and believe if we can get more women into leadership positions, this problem will go away, because it will be self-correcting. But you know, there's a chart that comes out of McKinsey each year. They, capture this data, it's from the annual tracking study and I reference it a lot.

Romy (10m 13s):

It's a pipeline, right? And it shows that at the entry levels of the workforce, the workforce is 50% men and 50% women.

Chad (10m 19s):


Romy (10m 20s):

And at each level up the hierarchy of each level up the executive ladder, it becomes more male oriented until at the senior ranks. It's only about 20% women, right? So more women at the senior level, and we're not going to have to undergo all these crazy data, efforts, although good to have data, data is important, but because the people making the pay decisions will be coming at it from a very equitable way.

Chad (10m 46s):

So along the line of those numbers, I believe the females who are actually in CEO positions in fortune 500 companies is around 8%. Right? So again, in the workforce, we're talking 50/50, but yet we're not seeing the elevation of those individuals, those females into key C-suite leadership positions. So the big question is what can an organization like Fairy God Boss do to be able to help leverage more of those conversations, number one? And number two more outcomes, because obviously we're not seeing the outcomes that we we should and or need to, or do you see that this is really just an underlying problem of what we're seeing in the workforce now with all the females actually leaving the workforce.

Chad (11m 33s):

Do you think that they're together? Do you think they're separate?

Romy (11m 38s):

Well, they're definitely related. I am so proud of what we do as a business, which is help companies attract more women to apply for jobs, because I genuinely believe that one of the first things that can be done to cure all the problems is just get more women into the company, into the leadership roles, into the middle management, so that there's better balance, right? 50% of the world is women, right? So there's better balance in all those areas and the more and better balance we have the more the structure and the practices and the culture will change to become more equitable and inclusive naturally. And by the way, I believe this also about all kinds of diversity.

Romy (12m 21s):

I think we need more representation of different races, of different sexual orientation. We need more representation of people with disabilities and veterans. And I think the more we can adapt our workforces and bring diverse individuals into, up the ranks, the better. First of all, the better the business outcomes, which is really important and also the better experiences all employees will have. And so what I think has to happen is, yeah, we can change policies. We can try to go to trainings, but really we just change the composition of the workforce. And that's what I hope to help companies do.

Joel (12m 54s):

I want to talk a little bit about the technology sector and actually one of the categories that you break down, the data that you present here and technology has historically been the bro culture, right? And women have historically felt alienated, harassed in these environments. There are a few cases a year or so ago where this was really prominent. Have you seen in the data, some improvement in terms of how women are treated on the technology side of businesses and technology companies?

Romy (13m 26s):

It's not showing through specifically in our data, but anecdotally I do think that remote working has alleviated some of the sense of micro-aggressions that both women and people from historically underrepresented backgrounds have faced in the workforce. So, but I also think it's a little hard to tell. I don't know what it's going to be like when we all go back to the office. I do think there's definitely been improvement. I also think this idea of virtual collaboration and distributed work has really changed the experience, frankly, that all employees have with their workplace culture.

Joel (14m 2s):

Yep. So these lists are always fluid companies and their top 10, one year, a couple of years, you know, from now, they're out of the top 10. If you had to sort of get your crystal ball out and predict what sort of companies would be in your top list, what are the things that they are going to be doing to appeal to women? i.e., for companies that are listening to this podcast, what should they be looking to do to improve environment an workplaces for their female employees in order to get to your top 10 list prospectively?

Romy (14m 36s):

Yeah. So there are so many things, but I would start with figuring out how to be really oriented toward deliverables, toward results, as opposed to toward schedule and FaceTime and availability. And I think by the way, that's going to be a really necessary thing for all companies to figure out as the world changes, to retain the best talent. Everybody knows there's war for talent particularly in the technology space. So if companies want to attract female talent, if they want to attract the best workers, they're going to have to move toward whether it's using OKRs, whether it's using performance objectives, we have to stop measuring productivity in terms of time spent at a desk and start measuring it in terms of contribution to the company.

Romy (15m 21s):

And I think, yeah, I mean, I think we all want that. Right?

Chad (15m 25s):


Romy (15m 25s):

And then I think once you've got that, it can really help alleviate places where there are bias such as pay raises and promotions. So when you're, when things become so transparent and so clear, someone can say at the end of a quarter, look, I completed all of the deliverables that we discussed. Right? I've done my job well. There's no subjectivity and removing the subjectivity will go a long way I think. I also think that there has to be a focus on wellness. There has to be a focus on support of the whole life of the employee, because when work moved into all of our homes, those boundaries just evaporated and let's face it we've all, all, every last one of us in whatever personal way it happened to us have been through a really difficult couple of years.

Romy (16m 17s):

Right? And so it's hard for employees to just kind of like keep on trucking through it. And a dear friend of mine, Lorna Hagen, who's the Chief People Officer at Guilds recently said, people now lean on their company to provide them community, to provide them guidance, to provide them some support in a way that historically, maybe they leaned on a church or a university, right. But the expectations or demands placed on an employer because it is your main lens into the outside world, have just grown and grown and grown and companies that understand and respect that will win.

Joel (16m 54s):

I need a hug Chad, that I need a hug right now.

Chad (16m 59s):

That to me is more scary than a hug. I don't know. I don't know that I want, I don't know that I want to put that much trust in to any brand, but I, what I do want to say though, is that if you haven't checked out this best companies for women or 2021 Romy, where can they go to find this? Where can they go out to find more about Fairy God Boss? Connect with you? Give us a, give us a little bit about that.

Romy (17m 24s):

Yeah. So you could start with If you search on that famous big search engine, best companies for women, you will find us and that famous big search engine. Google. That is a Fairy God Boss, customer.

Chad (17m 38s):

Oh, nice. Nice name drop. Not in the top 10, by the way.

Romy (17m 43s):

Yes, please. You know how to find me? You can connect with me on Fairy God Boss. You can also connect with me in all those usual places like LinkedIn, by the way, also a Fairy God Boss customer.

Chad (17m 56s):

Excellent. Well, Romy, thank you so much. We appreciate you taking the time, sharing the list, and again, doing what you do for your community. We appreciate it. And come back soon.

Joel (18m 8s):

You know, what's coming.

Chad and Joel (18m 10s):

We out.

OUTRO (19m 3s):

Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.


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