Built For Us, Built By Us, Not To Which We Need To Adjust
In celebration of Women's History Month, we are releasing a series of posts from women throughout Procore who are talking about their experience in tech, lessons learned and offering up some valuable advice.
I am a lawyer, woman in tech, and most recently, a working mother. I have those same stories that almost all other women have. I have been subtly (and not so subtly) sidelined. I’ve been talked over. I’ve watched male colleagues behave in a certain way and receive one treatment, when I have behaved in exactly the same manner, yet received another treatment entirely.
Even in the best of workplaces, even when the intentions are pure, these subtle issues still persist—the turns of phrase, seemingly innocent comments, jokes, failing to include women in the meatiest conversations only to consult them later as an afterthought. They burn low and strong, and no woman escapes the heat. It is insidious. It is a part of our culture and of the fabric of working life in America.
This is the state of sexism facing women. It is hard to pin down. It’s hard to define. It’s hard to prove. It’s often perpetrated by “good people.” People who would be hurt if we labeled them “sexist” and who, on balance, probably don’t deserve that moniker. It’s perpetuated by other women accepting the status quo, not raising her hand and saying something or doing something when she knows she should. I’m guilty of this.
So, how do we address it?
We can certainly start by including the perspectives of our female colleagues, our LGBTQ colleagues, our colleagues of different cultures, our colleagues who are parents, or who are caring for their parents, in the process of building an environment where they can show up fully and be at their best. You do this by weaving diverse perspectives into the fabric of decision-making up, down, and throughout an organization.
For example, someone who has never breastfed may understand the need for mother’s rooms but may not understand why it’s important for women to be able to reserve them (so they can pump on the same schedule that their child is feeding), or why they need a refrigerator in them (so women can store milk safely). Let alone the additional things a company can do to help those mothers adjust back to working life and show up at their best (rooms with a sink, cubbies for pump parts, providing hospital grade pumps).
Procore happens to do all of those things and it is not just because the company is committed to an inclusive culture (we are), but because parents (women and men) were involved in the decision-making process. Making these additions to the mothers rooms costs relatively little above and beyond the cost of the mothers rooms themselves, but it pays huge dividends in employee productivity and engagement.
It also pays dividends in normalizing what it takes to be a working mother among the rest of the employee population.
While Procore is already a very good place to be a woman, we still have a lot of room to grow and our commitment to an inclusive culture means we are open to being even better.
I believe that companies need to provide women and mothers, fathers, and everyone with an environment that understands their perspectives, needs, desires, and feelings. An environment that is built for them, that is built by them, not to which they need to adjust.
It’s the right thing to do and what makes it easy for the pragmatist and attorney in me to advocate for it, it’s actually what’s best for the bottom line.
Take our working mothers—there is a clear tangible benefit to these well-stocked, private mothers rooms if it takes the average mother 10 minutes less per pumping session. This means 10 minutes more work time per mother, per pumping session. That’s measurable increased productivity. But, it also makes returning mothers feel accepted and included in a profound and powerful way and, in turn, they care more, work harder, and stay at the company longer.
Imagine what else we can extract from our employee population if we provide a similarly thoughtful and insightful working environment for each and every one of them. Imagine what an inclusive environment like that would do to the subtle injustices. I think they would begin to disappear.