This series profiles people whose ideas have the power to transform the workplace. Several are company leaders who have put their ideas into practice. Others are thought leaders influencing the way we work. Each new part will post on Tuesdays. Links to previous articles are at the end of this post. This series originally appeared on the OpenWork blog.
Heidi Brown was born in Canada and spent a decade working in Europe before she moved to the United States. Her whole life, she watched women have children and return to work after a year of paid maternity leave. But when she had two children in the United States, the lack of paid maternity leave forced to her to leave the workforce altogether. She has made it her mission to stop that from happening to other women and believes that all companies could benefit from, as she put it in her TEDx talk, “Improving the ROI of Midcareer Female Professionals.”
“Every company should make it part of their mission to contribute to women’s advancement,” says Brown, “and startups are no exception.”
In addition to advocating for better maternity leave, Brown encourages cash-strapped startups to look at parents who wish to return to the workforce as an untapped market — a deep pool of experienced, talented workers who prefer part-time, flexible work to a full-time gig.
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At Options Away, a flight booking service that she founded with her husband after they had children, Brown attracts talented parents by letting them work from home on a regular basis and by offering recruiters a higher fee to place female engineers.
“It is fiscally outrageous that so much knowledge, experience, education, talent, etc. is left on the table never to be realized,” she says. “Unless companies begin providing more flexibility to women in and after their childbearing years, this situation will not change.”
Other parts in the series: