Scoopcharlotte is all unashamedly all about the women. For women, about women, by women. We are run by women, created and owned by a woman, our writers and staff are women, we cover primarily women’s interest & lifestyle issues, and our local audience is 90% female.
We’re a lifestyle platform, and our topics are mostly light & fluffy. But we are also women, who work. And most of our clients are women, who work. And many of our followers are women, who work. So with the support of Tyron Medical Partners as sponsor, we launch a series on Working Women in Charlotte this month. As part of that, we decided to delve into which companies in Charlotte offer the best benefits and environment for women to work.
This actually proved more difficult than expected, as many companies did not jump at the chance to share their policies that specifically benefit women. As you’d expect, most of the big QC employers were nominated for consideration; however, most did not respond to our requests for info. Still, we got plenty to work with, and share what we found in this article. We’ll continue this series throughout the year and will update this topic as we get information in.
Last month we held an open call for nominations — we asked people to tell us which companies were the best in the QC for women to work, and why. We gave several reasons why a company might be woman-friendly, including parental leave, flexible scheduling and work-from-home options.
The vast majority of our respondents said the company they nominated has several women in leadership roles and offers lots of opportunities for women to advance. It’s not clear how the other factors may have been affected by the pandemic; we think that’s the case though.
Once we had the nominations, we reached out to those companies along with others selected by our editorial staff to have them fill out a detailed survey. This survey (LINK HERE to review) covered things like the number of women in leadership roles, pay transparency, amount of parental leave, job flexibility & sharing and more. Companies were not required to answer all questions; they could select only those questions to which they wanted to respond. While only a fraction of the 300+ companies we sent surveys to responded, we still got some great data and learning on key issues for working women in Charlotte. (please note, if you nominated a company and don’t see it here, they did not respond to our request(s) for survey completion by our publishing deadline).
Maternity Leave/Parental Leave
Who’s doing it right:
The U.S. District Court offers 12 weeks paid leave for maternity and additional time off if needed using annual leave, sick leave or FMLA, as well as paid time off for spouses and partners.
SignUpGenius has the same policy for both maternity and paternity leave: 12 weeks of company-provided short-term disability plus four additional weeks of paid time. And after family leave ends, team members are able to work remotely and have flexible work hours to care for their precious new family member.
At EY, employees who have been there one year may take up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave, whether welcoming a child through birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care or legal guardianship.
Who’s doing it right: Every company who responded. Remember, NC Law states employers must provide a place other than a bathroom for employees to express breast milk. Employers also must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for one year after the child’s birth.
As you may have seen in the chart above, this was not stated as a major consideration for respondents to both surveys. But the fact is, childcare is a huge consideration for many women who have to juggle their work and home life each day. Companies that attempt to make it easier benefit not only their employees but themselves with less time spent worrying about childcare and more time spent on productivity.
Here’s who’s doing it right:
Queens University has a long-standing agreement with a local five-star child care center, where employees receive a discount on weekly fees.
Sodoma Law’s main office has a playroom on site that can be used by employees and visiting clients (and it can be staffed on an as-needed basis).
Now more than ever, women deserve a seat at the table. And we can’t get to the table if we can’t even get a foot in the door. That’s why actively recruiting women is an important part of being a woman-friendly company.
“Red Ventures is committed to recruiting individuals from diverse talent pools,” says Recruiting Manager Caroline Lewis. “To support this, the RV Recruiting Team has built a comprehensive strategy to strengthen our pipeline to talent from underrepresented groups, across all levels of open roles. We utilize advanced talent search platforms and provide our team with resources like inclusive language training, which improves our communication throughout the hiring process. A recent initiative has been our Employee Resource Group (ERG) Partner program, which allows our recruiters to work closely with ERGs leaders – including our women’s ERG, Empowered– to zero in on how we can improve our recruiting practices in ways that are most important for those communities. RV also encourages current employees to refer candidates who would be ideal matches for our culture and business tenets. This incentivized program allows current women at RV to have an additional impact on top of our recruiting efforts in driving their fellow women professionals into our interview pipeline. RV also recruits employees from Road to Hire, a non-profit founded at RV, that trains under-represented Charlotte young adults, including women, to pursue careers in technology.”
FS Food Group, which owns several iconic Charlotte restaurants like Midwood Smokehouse and YAFO Kitchen, prides itself on a corporate culture where women are valued.
“Our director of operations started out as a server in one of our restaurants and worked her way up. We have a female executive chef and several female sous chefs, which if you know the restaurant industry, this is typically a male-dominated field,” said HR Administrator Meghan Parsons. “We showcase these powerhouse women that are on our team and we tell their stories.”
EY believes in “building a pipeline from intern to partner” that includes sector-specific programs such as EY Women in Audit and EY Women in Technology, as well as sponsoring events like Grace Hopper, the world’s largest gathering of women in technology.
MassMutual Carolinas’ recruiting team has an active initiative to focus on hiring women advisors and support staff. The company also started an Empowering Women series in 2019 which holds multiple events live (and virtually) to showcase women in the workplace.
Continuing education for women
Who’s doing it right:
Red Ventures: According to Khemari Cook, Vice President of Education and Inclusion, the company offers four peer-led Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to support underrepresented and/or historically marginalized populations. These include Venture OUT (supporting the LGBTQ+ community), The Bridge (supporting Black, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander employees), More Than (supporting employees living with disabilities), and Empowered, our women’s ERG which has more than 700 members from around the world. The groups hold monthly virtual meetings to update members on upcoming events and noteworthy topics, and regularly host panel discussions with thought leaders from both within RV’s walls and beyond. In a recent event, four women leaders from across the organization led a company-wide webinar on preparing for annual reviews, and offered valuable tips on negotiating compensation, receiving difficult feedback, and navigating a virtual review conversation.
MassMutual Carolinas: The company sponsors many female support staff with an educational stipend each year, where they can invest in classes and courses that will help them grow in their role. The company also has an emerging leaders program where many female support staff learns the tools to grow into amazing leaders.
Who’s doing it right: Almost everyone who responded.
Most companies mentioned an employee handbook or online resource where employees can find the company’s anti-harassment policy. Why does it matter? According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, anywhere from a quarter to eight in ten women experience workplace sexual harassment in their lifetimes. Aside from causing personal trauma, these types of harassment cases also limit or discourage women from advancing to higher-paid careers.
Of course, simply having a policy isn’t enough to prevent harassment in the workplace. But a written policy clearly lays out what’s acceptable and empowers potential victims both at work and in the court system.
Women in leadership roles
Who’s doing it right:
Sodoma Law: All four of the firm’s offices are led by women who have risen through the ranks at Sodoma Law. The company regularly promotes internally — elevating legal assistants to paralegals and on a rare occasion even a paralegal to an attorney (after they have finished law school of course!).
MassMutual Carolinas. Their senior leadership team is comprised of seven people — four of which are women — and their greater leadership team is also predominately women.
Do They Cover IVF & Fertility treatments?
Why does it matter? Today one in eight couples experiences infertility, and the number climbs as we age. Pair that with a generation who’s waiting longer to have kids and you have a situation where fertility treatments aren’t just the exception — they’re vital for thousands of working women. And some studies estimate the average cost-per-cycle treatment to exceed $20,000.
Even though it’s still somewhat rare for employers to cover these treatments, a study from Fertility IQ revealed that IVF patients who had their treatment covered had a greater sense of loyalty to their employer and thus stayed in their job longer.
Flexible scheduling and work-from-home options
Many of us have been telecommuting for the better part of year now, but how many companies will continue a work-from-home option as employees are vaccinated and we begin to put COVID-19 behind us? This matters to women, as work-from-home options make it easier to navigate child care, carpool and other mom-related logistical issues.
The same is true for flexible hours — many of us have to plan doctors appointments and other necessary events for our children around school hours, work hours and a myriad of other factors. Being able to do our work when it’s convenient for us is a huge help (and productivity boost!)
About 59 percent of the companies who responded to our survey plan to offer a telecommuting option even post-pandemic.
About 81 percent of companies who responded to our survey provided flexible work hours for employees.
Other ways to support and empower women
Lots of companies had creative ways to support and empower women. Here’s who’s doing it right:
Celebrating Women’s History Month: The U.S. District Court
Every year the court has Women’s History Month with many events celebrating women. For example, this year Judge Paula Xinis will deliver a keynote address celebrating the history of women in the judiciary.
and Queens University observes Women’s History Month with various activities including an International Women’s Day lunch. In addition, Queens annually recognizes and celebrates an outstanding woman with a “Charlotte Businesswoman of the Year” award.
Community service and sabbaticals: Apparo
We promote women through our work in the community. Most nonprofits are run by women and we lean into supporting their business process growth through our programming. We create intentional connection groups to support nonprofit leaders in many areas for professional growth, mentoring and improved effectiveness. Since we lift and empower the missions of more than 550 area nonprofits, you can ask many who will tell you that they could not do the work the do without us. Our female employees are lifted themselves by this type of community empowerment. Our policies allow for flexible work schedules and remote work to meet the needs of parent schedules, child care and home care needs. We offer bereavement time off, allow for parents to work from home when a sudden home emergency occurs and paternity and maternity leave. We have offered sabbaticals to our employees when they needed extra rejuvenation and foster an environment of open communication and self-aware leadership from the the top of the organization to the bottom.
Helping women up the ladder: EY
Ensuring partner/principal candidates are sponsored and have the appropriate competencies and experiences, combined with a more robust pipeline and succession planning effort and strong US Board commitment, has yielded noticeable improvement in women and racially and ethnically diverse partner/principal promotions. We are proud that our EY US promotions to partner/principal show women steadily increasing each year. In our most recent round of promotions, October 2020, 40% of EY US promotions to partner/principal were women, an increase of 7% from the prior year and our largest class ever. We also saw 38% of promotions to partner/principal, managing director and director (PPMDD) ranks were women, a jump of 2% from the prior year.
Focus groups and inclusive language: Red Ventures
Red Ventures is also committed to better understanding the experiences of women, particularly women of color, says Khalan Boyer, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “This year, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team held a series of voluntary focus groups with women of color – creating a safe space for women to share the stories. We recently shared the results with our top 300 leaders as we all work to continue to make RV a more diverse, inclusive and equitable company. We are also working to use more inclusive language at RV. As you’ll see throughout this survey, we try to use the term “woman” or “women” instead of female, to ensure that we are including anyone who identifies as a woman rather than females specifically. In addition to our other work supporting women at RV, we are launching a new Executive Mentorship Program designed to improve RV’s inclusivity and leadership representation by accelerating the development, visibility and engagement of underrepresented talent with a specific focus on women of color. Building off of the traditional mentorship structure, this program will provide added Learning & Development resources to support the growth of mentees, as well as alignment with the mentee’s manager on their skill development and career trajectory.”
By the numbers
Girl Power! 100 percent of current employees and all senior executives at these companies are women:
Integrative Health Carolinas has an all-female board and 90 percent of current employees are women.
Tryon Medical Partners is made up of 80 percent female employees.
All five of Apparo’s senior executives (plus 92 percent of employees) are women. The company, which provides technology services for non-profit organizations, will have five women board members out of 18 total by July.
“Being a nonprofit results in many women applying for the roles. We are intentional about the work ethic and behaviors we want and put that front and center in our job descriptions, which we have found appealing to female candidates,” says CEO Kim Lanphear. Our Board recruitment can be more challenging because we recruit very significantly from IT Leadership, and that is not full of women at this time. As a result, we are very intentional about seeking, cultivating, recruiting through personal meetings and invitations to our programs and events, female IT leaders in our community. And it is working as our percentage of female board involvement will grow in July from 21 to 27 percent.”