InHerSight: Holding Companies Accountable

On Behalf of | May 1, 2015 | Employment Discrimination

Do you remember  If you attended a college or university in the 21st century in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, it was likely an invaluable tool for selecting your classes.  The site provided a 1-5 scale in categories such as easiness; helpfulness; clarity; the degree of textbook use; and the less refined yet often visited category of hotness.  With over 8,000 schools and 1,000,000 ratings, students are able to research nearly any and all professors and choose whom they think would be the best fit.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a similar resource to peruse when applying for jobs? There is!

Instead of relying on a company to tell you what it values – or hoping that you have a friend of a friend who worked there and can tell you about it – there is now a resource through which you can learn about the culture of a workplace from people that have actually worked there.  InHerSight launched on January 1, 2014 with the mission of improving the workplace for women by measuring it.  This creates a space for past, present or hopeful employees to anonymously communicate with other women about workplace issues they care about most and to hold companies accountable for their policies. The site measure how well employers in the private and public spheres support the women who work for them by creating scorecards on a 1 to 5 scale (with 1 being the lowest possible rating) including categories such as flexible hours; maternity leave; management opportunities for women; salary satisfaction; paid time off; family support; and how many women are in top leadership positions in the company.

An example of such are the “Support Ratings” for KPMG, the Big 4 audit, tax, and advisory firm: KPMG was rated 1.8 in the category “Equal Opportunities for Men and Women,” and 1 in Female Representation in Top Leadership.

As you can see, if you are a woman looking to work at a Big 4 firm with notable female representation in executive ranks, it would be important to know that KPMG scored a 1, the lowest possible rating, in this category. In contrast, Deloitte scored a 2.9 and Ernst & Young a 3.2.

InHerSight is an especially helpful website for woman entering male-dominated fields like the tech industry.  I spoke with Rain Surasorn, a computer science student at the University of Maryland, who has used the website to aid in her job search.  She states that her classes have been 90% men and that she sometimes feels like an outsider in the computing community:

Working in a place where women are being supported is very important to me and all women in tech. This website gives me some idea about what am I going to deal with, such as “Am I welcomed?”; “Is there a possibility that I would be laid off if I was pregnant?”; “Would I have lower salary than men if we were doing the same type of job?”; “Can I move up?”; and etc. This website gives me a chance at not working in a place where it might bring my confidence down. It is a big deal. I will rate all my employers, so my information can be useful to other women in tech.

Not only does this provide employees searching for jobs with a credible resource, it provides employers with an improvement tool.  Science shows that when people feel that they are being watched their behavior significantly changes. This phenomenon was recently seen when Uber drivers started rating their passengers on a 1 to 5 star scale, creating an incentive for passengers to be polite to their drivers.  This actually led some passengers to develop “Uber anxiety” and become quite motivated to attain a perfect score.  If your score drops too low, fewer drivers will want to pick you up and you can be kicked off the application.  The fascinating element here is that passengers cannot access their ratings but simply being conscious that someone is rating them makes people hold themselves to a higher standard of conduct.

InHerSight gives employees insight into how women are really treated at different companies.  Knowing that employees now have a collated public forum to share their experiences with others, employers have a greater incentive to begin to police themselves.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”