The Progressive Ensign

insights and analytics to build an economy that works for all

Category: Women Careers

Startup Creates Executive Tracks For Women With Innovative Job Definitions



Women often face job flexibility issues in managing their job.  Time to be a caregiver, take care of children, or just needing to take care of kids when they get sick and can’t be in daycare. Werk co-founder, Anna Auerbach found in the workplace there was just not enough jobs that offered flexible hours, location or time agility to put women on an executive track.  Werk offers products to help companies change their thinking about full time W-2 jobs but with some unique flexible characteristics.


The Werk team has identified 6 different types of flexible work through their research that companies need to be more inclusive, hire more women and accommodate men with flex time needs. The options range from Desk Plus – with different company locations for an employee’s desk, to MicroAgility where the worker can step out of the office for 1 – 3 hours to take care of an emergency. The firm trains their client company executives on how to re frame their jobs and how to recruit for more women and men who need flexible schedules.

We have seen the need for more women executives starting new businesses, in venture capital, angel funding and mature companies.  It has been difficult to bring more women into the job market due to the fact their needs for jobs with greater flexibility have not been met by standard HR job definition practices.  It is time these practices change to hire more women into management roles and assist men that may have caregiver or family needs.

Women Have Not Broken the Startup Glass Ceiling – Why?


On International Women’s Day, we think it appropriate to review how women are doing in the fastest growing sector of the US economy – high tech startups.  The results of a Silicon Valley Bank survey for 2017 are not good.  There were no women board members in 70 % of Silicon Valley startups, actually up from 2016. Women were poorly represented in 54 % of startups with no executive positions filled by women in 2017.

Source: Silicon Valley Bank – 2017 (2018 figures are estimates)

Why?  Having built a career in Silicon Valley for the last 25 years this author has seen a number of reasons – none really acceptable for the trend.  It starts first in school, STEM programs to bring along girls in secondary school and then science and technology in college are few and poorly funded considering women represent 51 % of the population.  In college, the men often start companies in dorms like CISCO at Stanford, or school buddies as the founders of Google at the Stanford School of Engineering.  Universities are key incubators or engineering and high tech startups, with a low percentage of women in engineering programs there were fewer to start with to be founders.  In the venture funding world, venture capitalists seek other men that they know of in graduate school departments, or grad students they know for tips on interesting new technologies. There is cultural network for men related to high tech startups that continues to grow and keep men in the mainstream. Plus, most venture capitalists are men, and don’t feel as comfortable giving many women funding, not trusting their judgement or skills is almost an unconscious response.

Next Steps:

What do we do about it?  Diversity programs are a start, the Silicon Valley Bank survey did find that 41 % of startups up from 25% the previous year had started active women recruitment programs.  More funding for STEM programs specifically focused on girls in grade schools with a focus on both the skills as an engineer but also the cultural aspects of a women in engineering.  Many engineering environments in startups are hostile to women and keep growing with a ridiculing attitude toward women. One former manager at a $1B company in San Francisco told this author, “working in this place is like being in the boys’ locker room”.  From STEM and engineering programs in college women need specific programs in incubators and founder support groups like the Women’s Founders Network. When more women start companies they will change the culture into a more robust, open and adult environment. Women on boards and in executive positions will shift HR policies in startups and small companies to be more family friendly, more flexible time for family issues as they arise and more supportive of women re-joining the workforce from having a baby or taking care of a family for many years.

There is no better day than today for men to realize many times, “The best man for the job is a woman!”

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