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Is your Employer Woman-Friendly?

by Tema Frank, Part-time Experts

If you are a woman, you've got a pretty good idea if your workplace is woman-friendly.  But remember: even in the best of organizations you can get stuck behind a dud.  And even the best employers for women aren't perfect. Is it worth jumping ship? If you are already out cruising for a new employer, what should you be looking for?  The answer to those questions depends on you.  Have you set your sights on the executive suite, regardless of the cost to your personal life? Or would you prefer to lead a more balanced life, or at least be able to ease off  for a few years while you have young children? In either case, you may want to try to get answers to the questions listed below.  

In Canada's Best Employers for Women:  A Guide for Job Hunters, Employees, and Employers, I looked for employers that:
provided good opportunities for advancement and career development
were flexible in meeting employee needs
supported employees in their child and elder care responsibilities
had a happy, positive working environment.

Here are some things you might want to look for:

JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM
How are women distributed in the organization?  How does the share of women in management compare to the number of women in the organization's total workforce?  (Some employers have to make this information available publicly.  Check with your library.)
How many women are in senior management? Are there any female VP's in areas other than human resources and public relations?
Who is responsible for workplace equality issues?  Does that person report directly to the president or CEO?     
     HAVING MY BABY...
# weeks leave permitted beyond the legal minimum?  Which benefits continue? At whose expense?
Amount of salary paid (if any) on top of UIC (now called “employment insurance”)?
Is it possible to phase in a return to work after a maternity leave?  Can you speak to someone who's done so (i.e. does it really happen?)
Do any of the following links continue while the employee is on leave?
     ___ training courses ___ occasional fill-in work  ___ invitations to work-related      social functions
 When returning to work, is the employee guaranteed:
     ___ the same job  __ a comparable job (same pay and seniority)  __ whatever job is available __ nothing

I'VE HAD THE BABY.  NOW WHAT HAPPENS?
Is on-site or near-site day care available?
What other help is provided for child or elder care?  This could include:
a referral service, to help you find facilities in your (or your parent's) neighbourhood
information/advice about how to select appropriate care
screening of child or elder care providers, including checking references
general information about employing a nanny or other household helper
paying for baby-sitters when employees have to work late or travel
time off to care for ill dependents
HOW CAN I BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE?
Are the following available as standard policy?  How many employees have taken advantage of them? Are there brochures that support these policies, and workbooks to guide employees and their managers through the process?
flexible working hours
reduced work weeks
job-sharing
part-time work, even for management employees
telecommuting (working from home)
special summer or holiday hours
    What benefits do part-time workers get compared to full-time workers?

SNAKES AND LADDERS
Are there targets for women in management or non-traditional jobs? How  often is progress in reaching the targets measured?  Who's responsible for progress?
Are there any special programs designed to increase the number of women hired and promoted?
Is there a formal employment equity policy?  How is it communicated to managers?
Is there a formal mentoring program?  Who's eligible?
Are special efforts made to recruit or train women for jobs in which they are under-represented?
Are there any training courses specifically for women? If so, on what topics?
To order Canada's Best Employers for Women:  A Guide for Job Hunters, Employees, and Employers send a cheque for $22.95 (includes delivery and tax) to Frank Communications, 253 College Street, #200, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5T 1R5, or fax corporate purchase order to (416)944-2160.  To book Tema Frank as a speaker, or discuss our consulting and writing services, send
e-mail:  tema@frankcommunications.com
Web site: Http://www.part-time-experts.com

Full text COPYRIGHT Part-time Experts, 2000