Even in this day of "workplace equality," finding a company that truly supports and promotes its female workforce can be a challenge. Here are a few "poker tells" you can use to evaluate a prospective employer to determine just how inclusive they are toward their female employees.
Seek Pioneers. Look for companies that recognize women and their accomplishments. Check out the National Association for Female Executives' (NAFE's) Top 30 Companies for Executive Women.
Look for Leaders. Pore over a company's annual reports and company Web sites and note the number of women in upper-level management. During the job interview, ask about opportunities for women--promotion, work/life balance and pay equity--and note the interviewer's reaction.
Survey the physical environment. During the office tour, do you encounter women of responsibility or are they all clerks and assistants with male bosses? Do they look harried and mostly stuck in cubicles while the men have offices? You want to avoid a 50's "Mad Men" environment.
Break Bread. Ask to go to lunch with a would-be colleague. This is one of your best opportunities to evaluate a company's female friendly posture—or lack of it.
Consult colleagues and social networks. Ask your business associates what they've heard about the company. Check out Facebook and LinkedIn. Try to connect with employees of the prospective companies you're considering and pose questions about gender inclusion and opportunities for women.
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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.