In 2014, when Georgene Huang was two months pregnant with her second child, something quite unexpected happened: she was fired.
Huang had been working as the head of Enterprise Business and Institutional Products at Dow Jones, and when her boss was let go in a management shakeup, she lost her job as well. While pregnancy discrimination is all too real, that’s not what was happening in Huang’s case; she hadn’t even disclosed her pregnancy to her friends and family, much less her employer.
Still, she found herself in a tricky position as a job seeker. As she was researching companies and interviewing, she had a lot of questions she was afraid to ask a prospective employer, like what exactly their maternity leave policy was, whether women tend to get promoted equally to men, and whether it was considered acceptable to leave the office at 5 p.m.
While most women looking for a job have had the same questions Huang did, candidates often avoid broaching these topics in an interview for fear of being judged as anything less than committed to their career. So Huang did what any curious millennial would do in this position: she turned to the internet for answers. Employee review sites like Glassdoor already existed, but they weren’t providing the kinds of answers she was looking for.
Rather than doing what most of us would (read: cross our fingers and hope we land a job at a company that will treat us well), Huang resolved to fill the void that she’d discovered by building what soon became Fairygodboss: an invaluable career resource that helps women find out which employers have female-friendly policies and benefits.
“Since I realized existing job review sites didn’t address the specific concerns and questions that women have, I decided to stop my own job search and try to crowdsource the info I was looking. I was happy to discover that women were eager to share their experiences; they really do pay it forward!”
Huang found a work wife — Fairygodboss Co-founder Romy Newman, who formerly led digital ad sales at The Wall Street Journal — and began crowdsourcing information to build a database of anonymous employee reviews.
Today, Fairygodboss helps one million women each month by offering the inside scoop from other women on what it’s like to work at tens of thousands of companies. In addition to browsing jobs and connecting directly with recruiters through virtual career fairs, users can discover employers’ parental leave policies, employees’ salaries, what kind of flexibility companies offer (or don’t), and they can hear directly from women who describe their company’s culture — oftentimes in a way that resonates more so than the company’s own careers page.
Huang suggests that job seekers take time to research the different resources available on Fairygodboss; as she puts it, “you should try to think about your job search as dating for a longer-term relationship. Try to figure out what exactly you want from your job, and make sure the companies you’re applying to match that, whether it’s a particular salary range or promotion opportunities. In my opinion, a lot of times when people are unhappy with their job it’s because of a mismatch between their goals and the company’s culture.”
Fairygodboss also offers discussion boards so that women who are seeking advice — whether relating to topics like job searching or returning to work after maternity leave — can pose specific questions.
And while there’s a goldmine of priceless info on Fairygodboss, you don’t have to scour the website to find what you’re looking for. Whether you could use some help editing your resume or figuring out how to handle toxic coworkers — or you need some tips on how to tell your boss you’re pregnant — you’ll get the latest career-related news from dozens of experts and career coaches in your inbox each week (plus, you’ll get a heads up when top-rated companies for women are hiring.)
Perhaps what Fairygodboss users seem to enjoy most is the platform’s commitment to honesty and integrity. Both Huang and Newman practice what they preach: with a (growing!) team of 15 employees and five kids combined at home, they’re both fiercely committed to their careers and their families, and they’re not afraid to share with the Fairygodboss community how they make it all work, even when that means embracing failure along the way.
After all, had Huang not seen the silver lining in what she once viewed as a career setback, Fairygodboss wouldn’t have been born. “Being fired while pregnant was not easy,” she says. “But if I hadn’t experienced that — or the challenge that came with interviewing at companies without knowing their parental leave policies, or what their culture was like for women — Fairygodboss wouldn’t exist today.”