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It Took Canva a Year to Make Its First Technical Hire. Now It’s a Hiring Machine

Plenty of entrepreneurs adhere to the mantra of “hire slow, fire fast” and for good reason. Then there’s Melanie Perkins, the co-founder and CEO of Sydney-based design software company Canva. She spent a year trying to find her first technical hire.

While Perkins didn’t intend to spend so much time filling her first engineering position, looking back on it now, she wouldn’t have done it any other way. The year-long quest informed how she’s made every other hire since. And it’s hard to argue with the results: With 700 employees, Canva is a hiring machine, and it’s been doubling in size every year.

In an industry that sees engineers switch jobs with frightening speed, many of Canva’s early technical hires are still with the company. While Canva won’t discuss revenue, Perkins, the company’s co-founder and CEO, says the company has been profitable since 2017. Canva has 20 million monthly users in 190 countries. In October, Canva announced an $85 million investment, with a valuation of $3.2 billion.

This is going to be bigger than yearbooks

When Perkins started the predecessor company to Canva in 2007, she was just 19. She was frustrated by how hard it was to use design software. When she started teaching design at university, she noticed that her students were similarly frustrated. With her boyfriend (now fiance), Cliff Obrecht, she built a website called Fusion Books that helped students design and publish yearbooks.

It did well–becoming the largest yearbook company in Australia and moving into France and New Zealand. Perkins quit university to work on it full-time. By 2011, Perkins and Obrecht realized Fusion Books could be much more: an engine to make it easy for anyone to design any publication. But to build that more ambitious product, they’d need outside investment.

Perkins headed to San Francisco to visit angel investor Bill Tai, who is known for making about 100 investments in startups that have yielded 19 initial public offerings. She’d met him in Perth a year earlier, where she had collected an award for innovation. “If you come to California, come see me,” he remembers telling her. “Without me knowing exactly what she was doing, she engineered a trip. She’s a very ballsy woman, if that makes sense. And I’m thinking, you know, I should help her. I know hundreds of engineers.”

Early in her San Francisco visit, Tai introduced her to Lars Rasmussen, the co-founder of the company that became Google Maps. Tai told her that if she could hire a tech team that met Rasmussen’s standards, he’d invest. “I didn’t realize at the time what that meant,” says Perkins. She bought an Ikea mattress, and planted it on the floor of her brother’s San Francisco apartment. “Obviously, that was free rent,” she says. “I had food to get by and I felt safe.”

Perkins set out initially to hire by doing the obvious: She went to every single conference she could get into. She’d speak if the organizers let her. Tai invited her to his MaiTai Global networking event in Hawaii, even though, for most attendees, a big draw was kitesurfing, which she’d never attempted. “It was great fun,” she says gamely. Then, “I really don’t like it. I have the scars to prove it. I’ve … retired from kitesurfing.”

Back in San Francisco, Perkins passed out flyers, trying to pique people’s interest. She cold-called engineers, and approached suspects on buses. She scoured LinkedIn, but Rasmussen wouldn’t even deign to meet most of her finds. “He didn’t think they had enough startup gumption or experience with a world-scale company, or with complex technology,” she said. She says fewer than five LinkedIn finds ended up interviewing with Rasmussen. He’d give them a problem-solving challenge that, inevitably, they flubbed.

After a year of this, Perkins was thoroughly frustrated. Surely it’s better to at least make some progress, she told Rasmussen, than to continue to do nothing. But he was adamant.

The perfect candidate and the bizarre pitch deck

That same year, Rasmussen introduced her to two candidates that he thought might be a good fit and recruitable. The first, Cameron Adams, a user interface designer who had worked at Google, was busy trying to raise money for his own startup. The second, Dave Hearnden, a senior engineer at Google, initially said he wasn’t interested. In 2012, both had a change of heart.

“We were absolutely over the moon,” says Perkins. Adams came on board first, as a co-founder. Hearnden, on the other hand, started to have second thoughts: Google wasn’t happy with his leaving, obviously, and was trying to get him to stay. He worried that his project would be abandoned without him, and he didn’t want to disappoint his team.

At this point, Perkins sent him something that has since become known as the Bizarre Pitch Deck. In 16 slides, the deck tells the story of a man named Dave, who longed for adventure but was torn by his loyalty for Google. In the pitch deck, as in life, Dave eventually joined Canva. It helped that Google had already poached his replacement.

In 2012, Perkins was able to raise a seed round of $1.6 million, and got another $1.4 million from the Australian government. Tai finally agreed to put in $100,000. “It was really hard for her to raise,” he says. “You’ve got a young girl in her 20s from Australia who had never worked at a company, with her live-in boyfriend as COO. People would say to me, What if they break up? I didn’t have a good answer.” Now, things look much different: Tai says Obrecht is Canva’s “secret weapon,” and that “Cliff has just blown me away.”

Keeping the bar high, hundreds of hires later

While Tai drove her nuts at the beginning, Perkins appreciates his stubbornness now. “We’ve been able to attract top talent across the globe,” she says. “It wouldn’t have been possible without setting such a high technical bar early on.” Tai says he hasn’t made exactly this condition with other startups. But he’s done it in reverse: He’s backed highly technical people without knowing what, exactly, the business opportunity would turn out to be.

The experience also showed her, the hard way, just how much effort she’d have to put into hiring if she wanted to build a successful tech company. By Canva’s second year, the company had a recruiting team. “We knew we needed to invest heavily in hiring,” she says. Now, each open position gets a strategy brief. That document lays out the goals for the person in that role and the project they will be working on. It also identifies the people who will be involved in the hiring process. “Getting everyone on the same page is really critical,” says Perkins. “It sets that person up for success.”

And like Rasmussen looking for the first technical hire, Canva asks each candidate to take a challenge. Candidates have a choice of doing a four-hour challenge or a one-hour challenge. “Maybe they’re working parents and they can do it in an hour,” says Perkins. “Other people prefer to have a longer time and work at their own pace. We’re looking for people happy to take on challenges and who get a real buzz out of being able to solve hard things.”

In in-person interviews, someone on the Canva team will almost always ask the candidate, “How would your previous boss or manager talk about your work or rate you?” Perkins says people are “surprisingly honest” in their responses. The answers help her get a window into what type of leadership allows a particular candidate to thrive. Some people require a lot of structure or hierarchy, she says, and Canva doesn’t have much of either.

“One of the things I believe quite strongly is having a really strong idea of where you’re going,” says Perkins. “I have this visual metaphor. Plant 100 seeds. Until eventually one flowers or sprouts. For most people, if you’re rejected, you feel really hurt and don’t want to continue. The reality is that you have to push through. If I had given up quickly, I certainly wouldn’t be here today.”

By Kimberly WeisulEditor-at-large, Inc.com

Source: It Took Canva a Year to Make Its First Technical Hire. Now It’s a Hiring Machine

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A behind the scenes look at the amazing team behind Canva, hope you enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoyed making it!

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Strengthen This One Thing Before You Quit Your Job Or Change Careers

As my career coaching work has evolved over the years, I’ve trained my focus on helping mid- to high-level professionals who are at a decisive crossroads in their jobs or careers, and are committed to making the best next move. Most often, these men and women know something critical has to change in their work, but they’re confused as to exactly what needs modification. There’s so much going wrong that it’s hard for them to identify one thing to address first.

I’ve seen continually that when we’re deeply unhappy in our work, and experiencing pain, mistreatment, disillusionment and regret about the focus of our careers and the people we’re working with, we often want to run away as far as we can from the pain, to the opposite end of the working world.

Today In: Leadership

For example, an HR executive who’s fed up with their toxic leadership desperately wants to chuck it all and start an online lifestyle business. Or a Finance VP wants to stop obsessing about the bottom line and turn to working in the non-profit arena to feel he’s making a meaningful difference in the world, and so on.

While these might be the best moves for these individuals, thousands of times it’s not. Instead, unhappy professionals are engaging in what I call the “Pendulum Effect”–knee-jerking from the pain and trying to escape their chronic career problems. That often leads them to chuck everything they’ve built and start over completely.

I’ve seen (in my own life and hundreds of others) that running away to an entirely new career often doesn’t address or fix the real problem–and that is who you are when you are working. This includes your boundaries, your ego, your way of communicating, how you handle stress, your decision-making process, how you relate to others, how you deal with critique and challenge and so much more.

Those elements of your approach to living and working don’t change just because you’ve quit your job or career. They’ll show up again in the new field or job, unless you do the inner and outer work to become someone who is more confident, self-respecting, powerful and impactful and able to stand up calmly and resolutely for yourself.

Before you make any changes in your job or your career, it’s critical to address this one thing before you make any moves: the way you are operating in the world.

When you do the work to strengthen and grow personally, you elevate yourself and ensure that your career will become more satisfying and aligned with your values. The degree to which you are able to grow and expand yourself to operate at the highest level is what will ensure that you can experience more reward and success in your jobs and professional endeavors.

This strengthening process involves closing the seven damaging power gaps that keep professionals from thriving. And elevating yourself to the highest level involves honing what I’ve seen are the nine essential skills for success and happiness in your career. They all involve strengthening who you are and how you show up in the world.

You simply cannot have a happy, rewarding and successful career if you are seriously lacking in these skills:

  1. Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence
  2. Communication Skill
  3. Building Strong Relationships
  4. Decision Making
  5. Leadership
  6. Advocating and Negotiating
  7. Work-Life Balance
  8. Boundary Enforcement
  9. Career Planning and Management

(Here’s more about three of those.)

How can we tell if we’re deficient in these skills and need more development to thrive? Below are some prime indicators that these skills need improvement now:

If you review this list and feel a bit overwhelmed because you feel many of these skills need development, that’s ok, and there’s good news. It means you have the self-awareness to understand that in order to be happier and more successful, some growth is required.

Choose one or two skills from the list above that you feel need the most development, and take proactive measures this month to build these skills. You can do this in many ways, whether it’s taking a leadership training course, working with a coach on your communication style, seeking help from a therapist to address your emotional pain from the past, prioritizing your life outside of work more highly, or deciding how and when you want to negotiate your next raise or promotion. Don’t wait. Take concrete steps now to change how you see yourself and how you interact with the world.

This one small step on the path to your growth and expansion can change everything for you.

To build a happier, more rewarding career, take Kathy Caprino’s Amazing Career Project training course and her new webinar The Most Powerful You: Close Your Power Gaps and Rock Your Career.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I’m a career and  executive coach, writer, speaker, and trainer dedicated to the advancement of women. My career coaching firm—Kathy Caprino, LLC—offers a wide array of programs, training, assessments, videos, and courses that help women “dig deep, discover their right work, and illuminate the world with it.”

Along with contributing to Forbes.com, I write on Thrive Global, LinkedIn, and my own blog at kathycaprino.com/blog and am a frequent media source on careers and women’s issues. My book Breakdown, Breakthrough and my TEDx talk “Time To Brave Up” share critical ways to stand up and speak up for yourself and transform your life.

My new book, The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths To Career Bliss, is due Summer 2020 from HarperCollins Leadership.

For more information, please visit kathycaprino.com, the Amazing Career Project course, and my Finding Brave podcast.

Source: Strengthen This One Thing Before You Quit Your Job Or Change Careers

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It’s said that job-related, or hard skills, may help you land the job. But these days, candidates who also possess strong people and relationship skills have a real edge in getting an offer. Soft Skills for Career Success provides valuable insight on how to get along and get ahead in your job. In this video, explore the top soft skills sought by hiring managers: communication skills, being a team player, a strong work ethic, flexibility, and positive attitude. You’ll also learn some smart tips for using your smart phone in the workplace. It’s part of the Job Genius series, presented by Express Employment Professionals, a staffing company with hundreds of locations and over 35 years of experience in finding great jobs for great people.

John Legend Wants To Improve Job Opportunities For People With Criminal Backgrounds

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Grammy-winning musician John Legend announced the second cohort of participants in Unlocked Futures, a 14-month accelerator program for social entrepreneurs who have been incarcerated and urged business leaders to be more inclusive of job applicants with criminal backgrounds.

Unlocked Futures launched in 2017 as a partnership between the philanthropic venture fund New Profit and Legend’s criminal justice reform initiative FreeAmerica, with financial support from Bank of America.

“We started this as a collaboration, saying, ‘Let’s not just tell folks to hire formerly incarcerated individuals, but to invest in their ideas,’” says Legend. “All of the members have business ideas that will help them feed their families, employ others and strengthen our communities.”

Today In: Leadership

In 2007, Teresa Hodge, a member of the inaugural Unlocked Futures class, began a 70-month prison sentence for a nonviolent white-collar crime at Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia⁠—the same prison where Martha Stewart famously served her time. After her experience with Unlocked Futures in 2017, Hodge, 56, became the cofounder of R3 Score, a background screening company.

The U.S. is home to 5 million formerly incarcerated people who face severe obstacles when trying to find a job after their release. Returning citizens are unemployed at a rate of more than 27%, nearly seven times higher than the unemployment rate for the general U.S. population.

Unable to secure employment, many formerly incarcerated people turn to entrepreneurship. But they often lack the business skills, social networks and capital needed to launch a successful company.

That’s where Unlocked Futures comes in. Participants receive coaching on leadership skills such as board governance, fundraising, communications and talent strategy. They also undergo an assessment that gauges areas for improvement and team up with mentors from a network of organizations, including Bank of America, which provided $500,000 grants for both cohorts, a total $1 million commitment.

“Six hundred thousand inmates are getting out every year, and if we want to lessen the risk of them recidivating, programs like this are important,” says Andrew Plepler, the environmental, social and governance executive for Bank of America.

Many formerly incarcerated people experience a revolving-prison-door scenario after their release: At least 95% of people incarcerated in state prisons are released into  their communities, yet more than half of them are arrested again within three years.

To be admitted into the Unlocked Futures program, applicants must have fully operational businesses. “We come in when you’ve established your proof point, you have your model built and you’re ready to figure out sustainability, growth, and measurement and expansion,” says Tulaine Montgomery, a managing partner at New Profit.

Participants are each awarded a $50,000 unrestricted grant. Hodge, whose first business venture upon release was Mission:Launch, a nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated people reenter the workforce, says that many returning citizens are unable to gain access to growth capital because of their criminal history.

She put her $50,000 from Unlocked Futures toward performing user surveys and designing the algorithm for her background screening platform. In July, Hodge participated in the Techstars Impact Accelerator, which backs founders who are building technology aimed at solving social and environmental problems.

Through this program, she was able to raise another $500,000 from the Motley Fool, American Family Life Insurance and others. Now in the seed stage, her goal is to raise $2 million by the end of the first quarter of FY 2020.

“It’s certainly a challenge to be a black woman raising money, not to talk of being formerly incarcerated,” Hodge says. “But we know that we have a solid business model because there’s a strong upside for investors.”

Since January, more than 700 individuals and companies have signed the Society for Human Resource Management’s pledge to give qualified applicants with criminal backgrounds the same opportunities as those who haven’t served time. And just this week, JPMorgan Chase announced an expansion of its efforts to hire people who were formerly incarcerated, continuing the trend of  companies removing questions about criminal history on employment applications and offering opportunities to those with records.

“If we want the full human potential that is contained in our communities to be maximized, we need to include formerly incarcerated people in conversations around hiring and how we develop the workforce,” Legend says. “These folks are valuable and they’re worth reintegrating into our society.”

At the kickoff event for the second Unlocked Futures cohort, participants sat down with Legend and discussed their personal stories, business ideas and aspirations for the future. As business leaders begin to shift their attitude toward hiring and investing in returning citizens, that future may start to look a little rosier.

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to rumoh@forbes.com.

Source: John Legend Wants To Improve Job Opportunities For People With Criminal Backgrounds

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Applicants with criminal backgrounds, including those with nonviolent criminal convictions or even arrests, are increasingly being driven into poverty. Even if it has been years since they’ve served time for past criminal infractions, those applying for jobs are often unable to find work — especially in a climate of extreme job competition. NewsHour’s Stephen Fee reports.

3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

Pivoting is expensive, but so is making smaller changes to your business plan to address the present-day realities of your market, your customers and your company. Revising your plan and implementing those changes can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can result in considerable operational upheaval.

But sometimes that’s exactly what your small business must do to ensure future success. How will you know it’s time to re-write your small business’s playbook? Here, three key signs:

1. Your growth is stagnant.

In a startup, momentum is everything. Growth provides the resources to continue to expand, beat the competition, improve quality and service, and increase efficiency through economies of scale.

Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t afford to simply plow additional funds into advertising in order to grow. Keeping customer acquisition costs down — and churn rate down as well — is key in the early stages for any bootstrapped startup.

In that case, growth might require jettisoning — or at the very least de-emphasizing — some products to focus on more profitable products. (See Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997.) That may require you to shift employees into new seats: sales, service, operations, etc.

Do this and the result might be a ripple effect of positives: Shifting employees provides opportunities for them to learn new skills, demonstrate new talents and learn about other functional areas. Moving a few employees into different roles can help re-energize and re-engage a number of other people.

Growth could also require introducing new products or services, especially when they complement existing offerings. Complementary offerings are a great way to re-engage existing customers as well as to bring in new customers who may then purchase other products or services.

In short: If your growth has stalled, what you planned to offer may not be sufficient. So how will you know what changes to make?

Ask your customers. They’ll tell you.

2. The needs of your “ideal” customer have changed.

Every business plan includes information on the target market: Demographics, interests, needs, pain points, etc. Over time, those needs can change (or maybe they never actually existed, at least on a sufficiently broad scale).

If you’re a tech company, evolving technologies can change the way customers interact with your service. If you’re in the restaurant business, today’s hot trend can be tomorrow’s outdated fad.

More likely, as your business has grown, so too has your infrastructure — meaning the level of one-on-one service you planned to provide is no longer necessary. (Or even desired.)

A great business plan lays out a blueprint for meeting customer needs and solving customer pain points. A great business constantly evolves to ensure those needs are met and those pains are eliminated.

Stay on top of metrics like return, service calls, churn rate, etc. to keep up with changing customer needs. Talk to your customers to find out how their needs may have changed.

Then revise your plan to make sure you provide not just what your plan says, but what customers really want and will pay to get.

3. You need full-time people in freelancer seats

Early on you may not have needed — or maybe couldn’t afford — to hire full-time people to perform certain functions. Wisely, you turned to freelancers. Freelancers are great for completing specific tasks, especially when sufficient expertise or specialized knowledge is a necessity.

The problem with freelancers is that they can only perform specific tasks. They can’t step into other roles. They can’t step into other functions. Because they aren’t a part of your company, they can’t learn and grow and develop with your company.

At some point it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. While they might not currently possess every drop of skill and experience they need to succeed in the role, when you hire people who are adaptable and eager to learn, they soon will.

And then they will help create an outstanding foundation upon which your company can grow.

By: Craig Bloem Founder and CEO, FreeLogoServices.com

Source: 3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

275K subscribers
Tutorial starts at 1:20 Whether you’re starting a new business or just trying to get your existing business a bit more organized, writing a business plan is the perfect way to clearly outline how your business operates, declare goals, and set out a strategy to reach those goals. In this video you’ll learn about the six essential pages every business plan should have, what to record on each of those pages, and also how to write your business plan as quickly and easily as possible — even if you’re a complete beginner! 🔹 Download the FREE Six-Step Business Success Plan: https://www.gillianperkins.com/downlo… // WHAT TO WATCH NEXT Six Ways to Earn Six Figures Working from Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1i8x… How I (actually) Got My First Client Online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AST3P… How I Created Multiple Streams of Income for Myself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfaH_… How to Decide What Business to Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mid_A… // LINKS Learn more about Gillian and find resources to build your online business: https://www.gillianperkins.com Join our private Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/start… Follow Gillian on Instagram to get a BTS look at what it’s like to be a digital entrepreneur: https://www.instagram.com/gillianzper… // MAIL Gillian Perkins International P.O. Box 13573 Salem, OR 97309 NOTE: This description may contains affiliate links to products we enjoy using ourselves. Should you choose to use these links, this channel may earn affiliate commissions at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support! KEYWORDS how to write a business plan, free business plan, do i need a business plan, #entrepreneurship, #gillianperkins, business plan how-to guide, business plan step by step, business plan tips ,gillian perkins, gillianperkins, do you need a business plan, How To Write a Business Plan To Start Your Own Business, how to write a business plan step by step, business plan for beginners, simple business plan, business 101, business plan template, business plan example, how to write a business plan for beginners

A New Study Reveals Hiring Effective Female Leaders May Be the Best Thing for Your Company’s Success

Do you believe in your company — its mission, purpose, and what it stands for? Belief in a company is one of the main factors behind why employees work and what they do.

The belief that the company is moving in the right direction, has room for personal and professional growth, and that the employee plays an active part in the strategy are all crucial to keeping employees engaged.

For leaders guiding the way, belief in a company is something that is earned and must come naturally for employees. And according to a new study, attracting and promoting more females into leadership roles is the way forward.

Employees respond better to women-led companies

A recent Peakon study found that employees of women-led companies, meaning those with more than 50% female leaders, feel a stronger connection to the company and their products.

When over 60,000 employees were asked the question of “how likely is it that you would recommend [Company Name] products or services to friends and family,” those at women-led companies answered 0.6 points higher than employees at male-led companies.

Women-led companies also answered higher in terms of satisfaction in the company, an important part of being an active, efficient employee.

Female leadership could be a major enabler in driving the company culture, and female-led companies are proven to be better in communicating mission and strategy, and managing more engaged employees.

Why belief in a company and its products is so important

Belief in the company is also strongly tied to the company strategy. When employees believe in the company — the origin, mission, and value the company offers to consumers and clients — they will subsequently have stronger belief in the strategy as well.

According to Roger Dooley, an experience marketer and author, believing in your company and its product makes you more persuasive. Employees with a strong belief in their product will be more able to effectively sell products or services the company offers, and will have a stronger connection to the company itself.

Belief in a company and its values is also critical to employees’ commitment and persistence. Employees with stronger belief in their company tend to be more willing to continue in their hard work when they trust the path the company is moving on.

According to the Harvard Business Review, belief in a company and its goals will enforce motivation throughout all of the employees — both to get work done when needed, and to keep up the same work ethic when it gets harder.

Belief in a company also helps leaders. When your company supports the same goals, it becomes easier to manage and communicate.

In Authentic Happiness, psychologist Marty Seligman writes that employees become their “happiest” selves when they are doing work they find worthwhile. Leaders who are able to motivate others to work towards a communicated, shared goal — and a shared belief in the goal — are able to maintain morale and engagement throughout the employee lifecycle.

Moreover, belief in a company and its goals also creates a feeling of solidarity among employees and their leaders. If at any point there is a disconnect between employees and leaders, it can be mended quickly and easily when there is a strong belief that the company is going in the right direction.

Ari Weinzweig, a founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, points out that belief in a business is one of the most productive foundations that employees and leaders can both share. It creates a shared purpose that may otherwise not be found, as most beliefs are formed before a person is even old enough to be in the job force.

Forming a community where there is a belief in a business allows for clearer actions towards the shared belief, and helps everyone’s job within a larger company make sense.

Clearly the research proves that you must care about the belief in your company strategy and its product. But we must not ignore the key component. As Peakon’s study revealed, investing in female leaders will help you bring deeper conviction about the company and its services, and therefore empower your business to grow in a sustainable way.

By:By Marcel Schwantes Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core @MarcelSchwantes

 

Source: A New Study Reveals Hiring Effective Female Leaders May Be the Best Thing for Your Company’s Success | Inc.com

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Why are there so few women leaders? Weaving together scientific research and personal narrative, Alexis Kanda-Olmstead explains why women may be reluctant to take on leadership roles and what we – women and men – can do to disrupt the powerful internal forces that undermine women’s leadership aspirations and confidence. 1. Alexis Kanda-Olmstead leads talent and diversity initiatives at Colorado State University for the Division of University Advancement. Throughout her twenty-year career in higher education, Alexis has worked to help students, faculty, and staff actualize their potential as leaders through self-knowledge, personal empowerment, and service. As a student and practitioner of women’s development, social justice, and organizational psychology, Alexis believes that with grace and humor we can create positive change that benefits everyone. Alexis is a blogger on women’s issues and the founder of AKO Collective, a women’s leadership development company based in Northern Colorado. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

 

Here’s How Companies Can Be Proactive About Women’s Equality

The World Economic Forum has estimated that it will take 208 years for women to gain true equality in the U.S. To decrease that timeline, campaigns like Melinda Gates‘ Equality Can’t Wait are prompting people to take action, rather than just continuing to point out the problem. As the co-founder of a female-focused company, I often think about how to focus on equality from a leadership perspective as well.

Women’s Equality Day on August 26th is an excellent opportunity to continue talking about how to achieve true equality for women at work–and in society at large. But talking will only get us so far. Without urgency and action, nothing is going to change.

When it comes to equality in the workplace, I know for a fact that plenty of companies want to become more diverse and offer more opportunities to people from a variety of backgrounds. But if you don’t make diversity a goal, then it won’t happen. You won’t see change unless you tell people it’s a metric to measure.

If you truly want your company to become more diverse, then you need to take tangible actions. Here’s where to start:

Recognize bias.

It’s more difficult to stop and think about how you can improve a process than to keep doing what you’ve always been doing.

Hiring is a great example. If your startup only hired men for its first 10 job openings, then you’re probably going to hire men for the next 10. The key is to actively look for your own biases, rather than assume it’s just coincidence that everyone looks the same and comes from a specific background.

Trust me, I know that my own network is full of people like me–women from New York and San Francisco who went to certain schools and have similar work experiences. But creating a diverse organization is about recognizing that fact and then actively working to get outside of your network.

For instance, at ThirdLove, we’ve always had more women than men on the team. While our demographic will always skew that way, we do believe gender diversity helps balance the environment and the culture. So when considering candidates for a position, we take a moment stop and ask ourselves, “Have we been open to people of a certain gender, age, or ethnic background? Do we even have that type of person in our pipeline?”

If the answer is no, we expand our efforts to bring in more diverse candidates.

Start conversations at work.

Due to limited budgets, startups generally don’t often think about hiring for diversity of age, ethnic background, or gender until they’ve grown.

To combat that norm, one method you can take from Gates’ campaign is to start conversations at work. If you look around the office and realize that your company skews young, white, or male, you should question that. Why aren’t there more women in leadership roles? Why aren’t certain demographics represented on your team? Does your company offer paid parental leave? If not, why?

I realize that a small company can’t tackle all of this at once. At Third Love, we now offer four months of maternity leave and six weeks of paternity leave. As we’ve grown and gained more resources, we’ve increased the amount of leave. And our policies will continue to evolve as we continue to scale.

Talking about diversity–and what policies or practices can contribute to it at every stage–is crucial to affecting real change.

Create groups and support networks.

Hiring for diversity is a great step forward, but it’s not the final step. Even if you hire a diverse team, you still need to make sure they’re supported.

According to the Equality Can’t Wait website and research in the Harvard Business Review, women are much less likely to have what they call a “sponsor” at work. In this sense, a sponsor is analogous to a mentor–someone who actively advises and helps you on the road to success.

But this support doesn’t have to be a formal mentorship. At ThirdLove, some of the moms on our team formed a group to support each other and talk about balancing family, kids, work, and everything else life throws at them.

There’s always work to be done making sure that everyone in your office is supported and has access to the same networks and opportunities as everyone else.

Give to organizations that assist diverse groups.

Creating a diverse work environment within your own company is an admirable goal. But if you want to help make a larger change worldwide, then you should look into extending your support beyond your company or customers.

For instance, our team partners with the bra donation program “I Support The Girls” as a way to help women in a basic, but also very tangible, way. Even if you don’t make a product that can be donated, money talks. There are hundreds of organizations in the U.S. that support women and minorities, so you don’t have to search across continents to find ways to use donations effectively.

Taking action is what will get us to equality. It doesn’t matter if it’s donating to cause that promotes equality or reexamining your hiring and promotion practices–it just needs to happen. And there’s no day like today to start.

By: Heidi Zak

Source: Here’s How Companies Can Be Proactive About Women’s Equality

As this animation makes clear, gender equality in the workplace is good for business, and it needn’t be difficult to achieve. For more information, please visit: http://www.ebrd.com/ebrd-and-gender-e…

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