Meet the Companies Helping Moms Continue Career Building
You Can Almost Have it All
Finding work-life balance or “having it all,” can seem like a fairy tale to many mothers, but in the last few years many startups have launched to help women do just that. Helping women stay in or rejoin the workforce has become big business.
The inspiration for PowerToFly, a company that matches women with tech jobs, came from the personal experiences of the founders. “We wanted to have babies, and we wanted to keep our careers,” PowerToFly cofounder and president Katharine Zaleski told us. “As we built this thing over the last 22 months, we realized the problem extends beyond just mothers.”
The company has expanded beyond its original mission of helping mothers with tech expertise find remote jobs to helping all women find work and excel in an industry that can still very much be a boy’s club. Many positions at PowerToFly are remote, but that does not mean they are part time or somehow easier than in-office positions, stresses Zaleski.
For women, PowerToFly is a great job-hunting resource; for companies it’s a “productivity tool for people who want to hire more women in tech,” Zaleski said. “We’re trying to eliminate every excuse out there to hire women in tech. One of the excuses is I can’t find them.” No more.
Those companies finding talent through PowerToFly include Buzzfeed, Washington Post, IBM, and Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters.
The Mom Project, a Chicago-based digital talent marketplace also aims to keep women in the workforce by connecting them to project-based positions. According to a press release the company distributed when it launched in April, the Mom Project “responds to two business realities: First, a massive talent drain in our nation’s economy as highly qualified women with children voluntarily leave their careers at some point—approximately forty-three percent according to a Harvard Business Review study. Second, the need for organizations to efficiently scale through business peaks and valleys using less traditional staffing models—with forty-five percent of the global workforce projected to be independent workers by 2017.”
While PowerToFly and the Mom Project cater to women and mothers who are often already in the industry, other startups have launched to help women who have left the workforce for a period of time, often to help raise their children.
iRelaunch offers a variety of services such as conferences, coaching, and job listings for “relaunchers,” a term she coined, said Cohen.
Cohen believes in the power of internships for “relaunchers.” She originated and co-leads the STEM Reentry Task Force with the Society of Women Engineers, which helps returning engineers get back into the workforce through internships with companies like IBM, GM, and Intel.
An internship “removes the perceived risk that some managers attach to hiring relaunchers, and they are attracting excellent candidates who are turning into great hires,” Cohen said in her TED Talk.
ReBoot Career Accelerator, a San Francisco-based organization, started in 2015 out of GSVlabs, a startup accelerator. ReBoot offers two programs, a 32-hour office and job-search technology curriculum (around $1300) and membership at Club ReBoot, a continuing education community program with in-person meetings for $20 per month.
Like many of these startups, ReBoot was a personal endeavor, co-founder Diane Flynn told us. “I returned to work after a 15-year pause and found that the workplace had changed dramatically,” she said. “Despite being fairly strong technically, I was not familiar with social media as a business tool, the latest cloud-based collaboration tools, and I didn’t have a strong LinkedIn profile. As I shared my story of returning to work, I sensed incredible interest from other women in doing the same, but they lacked the skills, connections, and confidence to return.”
Après doesn’t focus on a particular industry, perhaps in part because the company’s two founders come from two disparate career paths. Co-founders Jennifer Gefsky and Niccole Kroll worked as a lawyer for Major League Baseball and a registered dietician respectively. (MLB is now a corporate sponsor of Après.)
The company has struck a cord with women returning to the workforce. At one month in they already have 10,000 members.
And while Après helps those 10,000 members get back into the workforce, Gefsky believes her company is also helping corporate America generally.
“It is proven that companies that enjoy gender diversity in mid- to senior-level positions will outperform less diverse competitors,” Gefsky told us.
“Thankfully, companies are beginning to understand and appreciate these facts and the value these women bring to the workforce–their maturity, loyalty, commitment, soft skills and life experiences are all extremely desirable characteristics.”
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