Will social proofing beat the grapevine?
One of the most overlooked trends in the employer branding process is the growth of social proofing opportunities. We have seen the boom in recent years of social proofing for services such as B & B hosts, restaurants, hotels, cab drivers and general service providers via sites such as Air BnB, Trip Advisor, Uber, Booking.com and Yelp. There has been a similar growth in web sites, PayScale and Glassdoor standing out, giving general information on companies.
Now we are seeing the development of websites offering social proofing platforms for women to give feedback on companies on the benefits and opportunities specifically for women. These platforms give a framework to post crowd sourced feedback, so that women can share their employment experiences. Covering areas such as parenting leave, the percentage of women in leadership roles, training and development opportunities, as well pay scales, women have the possibility to post what could be described as exit interview feedback in the public domain.
FairyGodboss is a data crowd sourcing platform to rank companies for the professional experiences and conditions they offer women. They have identified top industries for “gender equality, women’s job satisfaction, and the ones women would recommend to other women.” PR, Cosmetics and Hospitality are apparently the leading industries when it comes to women’s perceptions of gender equality at work. This gives women an opportunity to research organizations and make informed decisions based on the comments of other women.
Inhersight.com, users rank their workplace across 14 criteria including maternity leave, salary satisfaction and wellness. The platform’s rating system is similar to sites such as Glassdoor, TripAdvisor Inc. and other crowd sourced feedback sites. It aggregates anonymous user-generated data to guide women to make “smarter decisions”.
These scorecards collate industry trends and make it easy for women to make comparisons between one company and another. Some tech companies offer great perks for women but still score low on leadership opportunities.
Enhance employer brand
These platforms also offer employers the opportunity to manage their own scorecards. They can see where they sit in relation to other companies in their sector, even their competitors. It gives them the opportunity to give them competitive edge in attracting women into their organizations. A compilation of individual stories create insights and give credibility to word of mouth feedback and gossip which might circulate about individual experiences. What it should do is identify a pattern of experiences.
Is social proofing the way forward?
There is a degree of skepticism. This is to be expected because the trend is to back hard data. The number of subscribers to web sites such as these is also still relatively small. Satisfaction is also subjective and difficult to measure. One employee’s experience of a workplace culture or situation maybe received differently by a colleague. But there is no doubt that if 200 women comment on lack of promotion or training opportunities that this will have greater impact than one person mentioning the same issue. Companies would be foolish not to pay attention in terms of their employer brand and talent management strategies. It gives them the opportunity to focus on specific issues and directly address them.
For job seekers, these platforms are another source of information in any thorough research process on a potential employer. All women should be fully informed. But it’s also a good idea to talk to the people who are currently working in an organization as well as assessing the comments of the women who have left and then make an informed decision.
One woman’s poison may indeed be another’s dream company. We live in an era where massive investment in diversity and data driven unconscious bias training, seems to barely shift the gender balance needle. So if a woman gets that a subjective “a-ha” moment looking at these platforms then this will be a step forward. They formalise the grapevine.
For ex-employees these platforms offer a unique opportunity to make their opinions felt. And without stereotyping, we are great communicators.
Download these career reflection worksheets to create a career strategy and plan that works for you.