In advance of the June 21st live-stream of Ellevate Networks’ Mobilizing the Power of Women Summit, I got the opportunity to interview Kemp Steib, CFO of The Second Shift.
The Second Shift is a vetted network of exceptional, professional women available on-demand.
Part of The Second Shift’s mission is to enable companies to retain critical female voices, influence, and expertise in the workplace. In your opinion why is it so important for companies to do this? What do they lose out on by not retaining these critical female voices, influence, and expertise?
I think there are three main reasons it’s so important to retain female talent.
- From a pure performance and financial perspective, a more diverse workforce performs better and generates better returns for companies. In terms of board membership, boards that have more diverse representation also have a better performance track record. Similarly, Investment firms that have diversity tend to generate better returns for their clients.
- There’s a real pipeline problem – ½ of entry level positions are filled by women, but, by the time you get to the CEO level only 6% for example in fortune 500 companies are women. Issues like the pay gap and harassment cause women to drop off. If there was more female representations there would be less of these issues.
- Third, I fundamentally believe that work should work for everybody, workplaces need to evolve. In the US if 1/3 more women stayed in the workforce, the impact on the economy would be significant.
Part of the process with The Second Shift is pitching for a project; it’s up to each member to negotiate the budget, time frame and deliverables directly with the client. Are you aware of any issues that members face with the pitch process and negotiation? How do they create pitches and negotiate to enable themselves to get what they need and deserve financially and otherwise? What’s some advice you would give to a woman negotiating her value?
The main issue that we see is in members selling themselves. Generally, women feel like they have to be perfect for every job and tick all the boxes, they perceive they have to be the perfect candidate, when really, their skills are transferable. We want women to feel comfortable pitching for every job they want; even if they don’t think they are necessarily perfect for the job and tick all the boxes.
In terms of pitching for projects the best advice is to explain clearly how your experience and skills are good for a project.
With regards to negotiating your value, figure out what the market is like for the type of roles you are going after, what are men being paid for the same job? For freelance/contractor work, think about the job in the context of the company, what would they pay for the role if it was a full time role?
In your experience as CFO of The Second Shift, what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned? How can businesses use their financial resources to create the right culture for an equitable playing field?
As the CFO of an early stage start-up, I would say, build a boot strapped business that generates revenue and be frugal in the early years. When you go to present to investors later on, you want to show that you’re already generating a profit. Also, while you’re in the boot strapping phase, it’s your time to make mistakes and learn, before taking on investors who will be scrutinizing every move.
In terms of resource allocation, I would say the best and biggest investment you can make is in your people. If you can’t afford full-time experts, consider using a service like The Second Shift, to hire an expert to come in on a specific project. Don’t let the perception of lack of resources hold you back from getting people on to projects that align with your values and can help propel your business forward. Also, hire people you like spending time with and working with. One of our core values is you have to be a grownup – take responsibility for your actions, pull your own weight, no drama.