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Ep. 29: Anna Auerbach and Annie Dean Found Werk to Revolutionize Work for Women

"The opportunity gap and the pay gap start becoming increasingly more problematic one to two years after a woman has a child and that's because there is no support system for her, for a woman who wants to be both working and a caregiver. Our society understands women when they're in a 100% care-taking role, our society understands women when they're in a 100% working role, but they have not yet figured out how to understand women who want to tackle both of those with equal passion and so flexibility is the way to achieve that."

Anna and Annie are ambitious women who faced a rude awakening upon becoming mothers. They both tried a reduced work schedule, but it didn't work at all. Concluding that "exhaustion is not a status symbol," Annie and Anna set about to revolutionize the working world for women -- to create flexibility without compromising pay or ambition, to allow women to pursue their dream careers and caregiving simultaneously. Listen to their story of founding Werk and get excited about the possibilities!

We discuss how they founded Werk to revolutionize work for women, the women's leadership pipeline, pushing women's equality to the next place, the rude awakening they encountered upon becoming mothers, the necessity of flexibility in the workplace, entrepreneurship, the issues with the opportunity and pay gap in the working world, how to create change in this area and more!

"The reality is, we can't succeed or have it all or do it all in environments that aren't designed for our success, and we need to be unafraid to rewrite the rules to create futures that we want to participate in."

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • Anna and Annie and co-founders and co-CEO’s of Werk.
  • Werk launched 4 months ago and already has 3000 members and 50 companies on board.
  • 30% of women are opting out of the workforce.
  • Flexibility is the lowest cost and highest impact tool for companies to retain women.
  • Werk helps people find flexible jobs at fair pay and normalize the conversation around flexibility.
  • After having children Anna and Annie couldn’t find a solution for mixing care with 16 hour work days, so they developed the solution themselves.
  • Many companies think flexibility is a benefit like a gym-membership - it’s actually a solution to a systemic problem.
  • The gender pay gap is attributed to the fact that flexible jobs pay less.
  • This is an opportunity gap – when women are given equal opportunities the gap gets smaller.
  • Companies value hours in the office over results as it’s easier to measure.
  • The most exciting part of this journey for Anna and Annie has been actually taking the leap and starting a business.
  • Being overwhelmed at work isn’t due to something you’re not doing; it’s a lack of support.
  • Gender bias is real, to rise to the top as a woman you’ve got to be better by multiples.
  • Flexibility is good for business; it's at the crossroads of what millennials want and what women need.

  • We're getting there, but we're still pioneering.

  • You will never succeed if you don't commit to it.

  • Just because people aren't there 9am to 10pm doesn't mean they aren't doing a great job.

Advice:

  • Exhaustion is not a status symbol. 
  • You’ll be much more successful in a flexible role if it’s pre-negotiated.
  • When negotiating for flexibility, don’t offer to take a pay-cut.
  • Sell flexibility as a business opportunity to increase productivity and optimize your time.
  • If you commit yourself, there’s no problem you can’t solve.
  • Look at competitors as an opportunity to all contribute to the same market, but your voice is unique.
  • Schedule everything; even lunch and sleep.
  • Force yourself to have downtime if you’re a person who can get so enthusiastic about work that you forget to stop.
  • Stick to your guns!
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