A lot has changed in the four years since Fairygodboss—a female-focused and led professional website that posts job listings, crowdsourced databases of companies’ benefits, and employer profiles—began.
“When we launched, Hillary Clinton hadn’t even run for president yet,” said Georgene Huang, CEO and co-founder for the company, on a phone call. “So the conversation was a little different.”
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Now, following Clinton’s run, the #MeToo movement, and thousands of companies promising to be better with diversity hiring, Huang said there’s been a “slow crawl” of change in conversations surrounding women in the workforce.
But the company’s announcement today might just speed things up.
Fairygodboss announced this morning it has raised a $10 million Series A co-led by San Francisco’s GSV Accelerate, which gave the startup its first boost of $3 million, and Salt Lake City’s Signal Peak Ventures, the company said. Signal Peak Ventures, which is a male-led VC firm, claims it works to invest in “underserved markets” across the country.
In a blog post, co-founders Huang and Romy Newman said the new cash will let the New York City company better serve an increasing user base and help companies “attract, recruit, and retain the best female talent.”
“We’ve seen our user base grow 30 times over the past 2 years,” the founders said in the post. “We’ve reached more than 24 million women and we are partnering with more than 100 corporate employers.” Customers include Apple, Accenture and General Motors.
Huang told Crunchbase News that the company began after she was suddenly fired from her job as senior executive at Dow Jones. During her job hunt, she was two months pregnant—too early for anyone to know, but not too early for her to stop wondering about maternity leave options.
Yet she was uncomfortable asking about maternity leave and whether there were successful senior-level women at the company.
So “like any good millennial” she tried to look up advice on how to deal with the situation. There wasn’t any, and so Fairygodboss was born. On the website, uncomfortable topics—like salary negotiations or do you need to wear make-up to work—are meant to be discussed amid a community of professional peers. To encourage people to be more open with their experiences, there is an option for users to be anonymous.
And as times have changed, roles have begun to reverse.
“We used to call companies and we had to explain why gender diversity was a good thing for businesses in business terms,” she said. But “we don’t open our calls with like that anymore, instead we ask what are you doing for gender diversity?”
And this time, she said, they expect an answer.
(Note: I’d love to write more about women and diversity within the tech industry, so if you want to chat you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias