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Now that's a perk: Seattle tech startup offers new parents the miracle of sleep

Ann Bednarz | Dec. 8, 2016
Parental perks designed to attract a more diverse workforce

By making startup life more inviting to a wider range of people, Outreach is in a better position to recruit the diverse workforce the company’s founders want.

“You cannot have a fruitful, challenging and intellectually provocative conversation until you have many points of view represented at the table,” Medina says. “I’m an immigrant, I’m Hispanic, and my point of view is shaped by my life experiences, which are completely different from my cofounders’ [experiences] and from [the experiences of] the people we hire.”

“The whole white-dude, frat-house mentality at a startup is not going to help you grow.”

Medina cites a recent study from venture firm First Round Capital, which just published its second annual State of Startups survey. When asked about the male-to-female ratio at work, 11% of respondents said their teams are all male and another 50% said their teams are mostly male. The lack of gender diversity is even more extreme at the board level: 61% said their boards are all male, and 23% said mostly male. Among the 700 founders surveyed by First Round Capital, just 14% said their company has formal plans or policies to promote diversity and inclusion.

“The view around diversity is dire. It’s not getting any better. It’s getting worse,” Medina says. “Unless those of us who are fortunate to go from startup to growth company take a stand on it, it’s never going to change.”

Competing for talent

In the midst of a challenging hiring environment that favors job seekers, it makes sense for companies to improve on-the-job perks to keep existing employees from looking elsewhere. Outreach’s parental perks are generous, “but very close to what we’re seeing in how companies are coming up with creative ways to stay competitive in the war for talent,” says Jason Hayman, market research manager at IT staffing and services provider TEKsystems.

IT pros are more willing to consider a job change than they might have been a few years ago, and when they start exploring their options, it’s not uncommon for candidates with hot skills – in security, networking or development, for instance – to wind up weighing multiple offers. (See related story: 37% of IT pros to look for new jobs in 2017)

“With over 80% of IT workers willing to listen to other offers while currently employed, companies who find a way to separate themselves from the pack by offering unique benefits can stay competitive against companies who only offer ‘industry-standard’ benefits,” Hayman says. “With unemployment at 2.8% in the IT industry, professionals with in-demand skill sets have the ability to be more selective when choosing an employer, forcing employers to meet them on their terms, instead of the other way around.”


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