Congratulations on landing a job interview! We've prepped you before on how to prepare for it — you've got common interview questions to practice answering in the mirror, interview outfit rules by which to abide (or break, you do you!), and real women's tips on how to stand out.
But even if you do everything right, every interview is a two-way street. You have to want the company as much as the company wants you. And, of course, you'll likely be more enticed if you know that the company values women like yourself.
So how can you tell if a company with which you're interviewing values the women in the workplace? Here are nine signs.
1. There are women in leadership positions.
The first tell-tale sign that women are respected in the company with which you're interviewing is if you see women in leadership positions. Take a look around the office — are there a lot of women around? Are there women with private offices? Have you done your research and gotten to know at least a few women in leadership positions within the company?
If there are no women in leadership, that's sometimes an obvious sign that women are not valued — and so the opposite is true, too.
2. The company offers adequate paid maternal leave.
The United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn't require companies to offer paid parental leave on a national level, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center analysis of 41 countries. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 60 percent of employers offer 12 weeks of maternity leave, while just 33 percent offer more than 12 weeks — including both paid and unpaid leave. Only 58 percent of companies actually pay a salary or wage during some or all of maternity leave, according to the same study.
If this company offers adequate paid maternal leave, it's likely because they indeed value the women interested in starting families in their company. And if there are women at the company who have had children and have come back to the company without losing their jobs or any responsibilities, that is also a tell-tale sign that the company respects them and wasn't going to give their jobs to someone else.
3. Employees in the company actually take time off.
Again, the United States is the only developed country that does not require paid vacation or holidays off; a quarter of Americans aren’t even afforded a single day in the calendar year. In 2017, Americans forfeited 212 million days, which is equivalent to $62.2 billion in lost benefits. That means that 52 percent of employees reported having unused vacation days at the end of 2017, which equates to an accumulated 705 million unused days in 2017, up from 662 million days the year before.
And millennial women are more likely than millennial men to say that their vacation time is “extremely” important, according to Project: Time Off’s report, State of American Vacation 2017. More women than men experience high stress, guilt and workload concerns. Women also report experiencing more stress than men at work (74 percent to 67 percent), and are more likely to say that guilt (25 percent to 20 percent) and the mountain of work to which they'd return (46 percent to 40 percent) hold them back from vacationing. Likewise, women worry more than men about vacation-related absences making them seem less committed to our jobs (28 percent to 25 percent).
If the women in this company seem to be utilizing their PTO without worry, it could be a sign that it's because they feel valued enough to take it.
4. The company matches 401(k) contributions.
The truth is that women need to save more for retirement than men. The average age when women take Social Security remains 62 while, for men, it’s 64 — so most women are looking at a permanent reduction in the benefits they would have received if they'd waited until their full retirement age (based on birth year) or to the maximum age of 70.
Plus, statistics show that women will likely outlive their male spouses. Additionally, long-term care costs impact women more than men since they're often their spouse's caretakers.
So when a company offers to match 401(k) contributions or offer some financial support towards employees' retirements, it's a sign that they value their employees.
5. There are women who have been moving through the company for years.
If there are women who have stuck around in the company for years, they probably stuck around for a reason. If they have moved up over the years, it's also a good sign that they probably stuck around because they've been growing and advancing in their careers.
6. Employees get (and actually use) paid sick time.
The United States does not mandate that companies offer paid sick leave. But when companies do, it's a good sign that they value their employees' health. Women, who are still primary caretakers for what it's worth, often take more sick time than men because they care for sick children and loved ones, as well. So paid sick leave is especially important to them.
7. The people interviewing you don't interrupt one another.
"Man-terrupting" is a phenomenon when men interrupt women who are speaking and often claim women's ideas as their own by repeating them instead of listening and giving credit where credit is due. If you have two or more people of mixed genders interviewing you, and they're not interrupting one another, it's a good sign.
8. Employees benefit from flexible work options.
For women who want to become parents or who are parents, flexible work options are important. A report from FlexJobs, Working Parents in 2017: What They Want at Work, suggests that more than four out of five parents value work-life balance more than salary. In fact, 76 percent of respondents said that a flexible schedule was even more important to them than pay. And 81 percent said that work-life balance mattered more to them than earnings.
But it's not just important to parents. Many women, regardless of whether or not they have or want children, find flexible work options appealing. A 2013 survey from Catalyst found that 83 percent of women with access to flexible arrangements said they aspired to a senior executive- or CEO-level position, while just over half (54 percent) of women without such programs said the same. The researchers explained that women are deemed more ambitious in flexible work environments.
9. The company offers loan relief.
Student loan debt is a women's issue, point blank and period.
The American Association of University Women found that women typically have larger student loans than men. The gender pay gap, and the fact that families save and spend more on sons’ educations than daughters’ educations, means that women with student loans tend to pay back their debts slower than their male counterparts.
A study by T. Rowe Price , which looked at households with all boys and those with all girls, found that 50 percent of the boy-only families had money saved for college, whereas just 39 percent of girl-only families had money saved. Seventeen percent of parents of all boys said they would be able to cover the entire cost of college, compared with just eight percent of parents of all girls. Twenty-three percent of parents of all boys also said that they were willing to personally take on $75,000 or more in student loans compared to only 12 percent of parents of all girls, perhaps because 68 percent of parents of all boys said that saving for their kids’ education was a greater priority than saving for retirement, compared to 50 percent of parents of all girls.
If a company offers loan relief, they understand the burden that loans have on their employees, which particularly impact women. And they want to help.
10. Women rank the company well on Fairygodboss.
When trying to determine how well a company treats its female talent, hearing from women who actually work there counts for a lot. Browse women's employee reviews for the company you're interviewing at on Fairygodboss and see how well they score the company on topics like pay and promotion equality, work-life balance, parental leave policies, and more.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.