INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Katharine Zaleski from PowerToFly on how to connect diverse women with jobs that work for their lifestyles
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Katharine Zaleski : I have to say I’ve been very fortunate during this unprecedented time. My family typically resides in Brooklyn, but when things started getting bad in New York, my husband and I packed up our two kids and retreated with my parents to our family home on Long Island. Needless to say, the homeschooling is a whole different story – but we’ll save that for another conversation!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined PowerToFly
Katharine Zaleski : Prior to co-founding PowerToFly, I was the Founding Managing Editor of NowThis; the Executive Director of Digital for The Washington Post; and the sixth hire and Head of News for The Huffington Post. I’ve written for major publications, including The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes and Quartz, appeared on TODAY, Good Morning America, and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business for providing solutions corporations use to create more gender-diverse hiring pipelines.
In 2014 my CoFounder and I, both mothers, created PowerToFly to help fast-track gender diversity. Today, we host an active community of over 275k women which we are able to connect with hiring managers at top companies and with each other. Each and every day we are providing real opportunities to millions of women across the world while simultaneously solving the diversity challenge and showing women why they belong at these top companies.
How does PowerToFly innovate?
Katharine Zaleski : Companies with more diversity perform better. PowerToFly is the platform that not only helps companies find incredible talent, but helps women across the globe find roles at innovative companies that are truly committed to creating inclusive workplaces – and where they can thrive. In order to hire diverse candidates, hiring managers need to go to where the diverse candidates are – you can’t expect them to come to you via job boards. Why? Because you can’t “post and pray” in a world where one Harvard study shows that men apply to jobs when they match 60% of the skills on a job description and women only apply when they meet 100%.
With a delta that big, you need to convince diverse candidates that it’s worth their time to apply for your role! The best way to do that is through events (now totally virtual!) where you can reach out to candidates and tell them what your company is doing to evolve, what it’s doing to become more inclusive and diverse, and most importantly what its leadership is doing to get on board with D+I work.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Katharine Zaleski : Before COVID, we were slated to have the largest month of in-person events in PowerToFly history, with our very first events scheduled in Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica and India. Luckily, we’ve always been well versed in hosting virtual events (hosting over 300 in 2019 alone) so we were able to quickly pivot while providing the same quality and excitement of our in-person events.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Katharine Zaleski : The PowerToFly team has been totally remote since our inception, so as for us, it’s been very much ‘business as usual’. What has been really interesting, though, is to see how many of our partners have executed the transition and how it is impacting them long-term. Many companies who refused to even think about hiring remotely were ultimately forced to allow their employees to work from home, which has really changed the game when it comes to hiring. Companies are keeping these work from home policies and looking outside the tech hubs to find incredible global talent – which has been traditionally underserved.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and PowerToFly in the future ?
Katharine Zaleski : Kite surfing has always been an incredible way for me to relieve stress, so I’ve been taking advantage of this time to go as much as possible. There’s something about being alone in the water with your thoughts that rejuvenates my creative energy and helps me bring my full self back to my team each day.
This is such a crucial time for PowerToFly as we’re not only battling a pandemic, but also systemic racism. We’ve always been an inclusive community, but now more than ever it’s important for us to help raise these diverse voices and propel them into a more equitable future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Katharine Zaleski : Maybe it’s cliche, but we don’t really have ‘competitors’ in the traditional sense of the word. What we do is so different from what similar hiring platforms and communities do that it’s hard to compare. We just concluded our first ever virtual mega summit, Diversity Reboot 2020, with over 40,000 people in attendance. This was huge for us, and was the first diversity and inclusion summit to go virtual – the plan is to take this idea and run with it. There will be plenty more summits in our future!
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