Home Companies NC startup tracks the pandemic’s devastating effect on working women, but there’s an upside

NC startup tracks the pandemic’s devastating effect on working women, but there’s an upside

by Chantal Allam

The coronavirus pandemic is driving many households to the brink. But there’s one group that is bearing the brunt: women.

A recent survey from Durham’s InHerSight revealed that 68% of women have considered quitting their jobs to take care of their children. That percentage is even higher, 74%, among women who are working outside the home.

Meanwhile, 54% of women said they don’t feel like they can bring their “whole selves to work.” That number jumps to 62% for Black women.

The short-term effect doesn’t look good. Women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men.

“These numbers are very concerning,” says InHerSight’s CEO Ursula Mead, 40, who founded the data startup almost a decade ago with the mission to improve the workplace for women by measuring it.

Similar to crowdsourcing rating sites like Glassdoor, InHerSight is a platform that gathers data about companies to help women find the right fit. Women can use InHerSight to research companies, look for new opportunities, and get career guidance.

In the wake of the pandemic and global racial protests, the platform introduced new metrics on diversity and COVID-19 protocols so women can dive deeper into the data.

“There was already a lot of work that we needed to do; now there’s going to be even more,” says Mead. “If some of these trends play out, this could set women back significantly in terms of their representation.”


Measuring ‘female-friendly cultures’

 Mead founded InHerSight back in 2013.

At the time, she was a new mother working as a corporate exec at a financial services company.

A “data nerd” by trade, Mead wondered what kind of research was out there about women in the workplace and the challenges they face.

She couldn’t find it, so she built it herself.

 Women rank their employers on 18 fixed metrics like management opportunities, salary satisfaction, childcare, mentorships, diversity and working from home.

The data also helps employers understand how their policies are perceived and how they can better support top female talent.

To date, the company has ratings data and scorecards for more than 150,000 companies in the US, including big names like Amazon, Google, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft. Companies local to the Triangle, such as Spoonflower and Broadreach, Inc., are also on the site.

Despite the recent “concerning” data, Mead says there is a bright spot.

“Companies are getting on top of this,” she says.

In the last year, the number of companies partnering with InHerSight on their diversity hiring and retention efforts has more than doubled.

In particular, Mead has seen a surge in early-stage startups seeking the company’s services.

“I’m encouraged by the companies that understand that for their businesses to succeed and perform, they need to figure out how to keep women in the workforce.”

If women drop out in droves, “they see this as a risk to their health as companies,” she says.

Looking ahead

Meanwhile, InHerSight remains steadfast.

The company has raised $4.5 million to date. Motley Fool Ventures is the lead investor, followed by Carolina Angel Network.

The company has also grown to eight full-time employees. Before the pandemic, the team was based out of Durham’s entrepreneurial hub, American Underground. They are now working remotely.

Mead appears uncertain when the team might return to the office. But one thing is for sure: she’s isn’t going to let up on tracking how women are working during these unprecedented times.

“These [women’s] needs aren’t just a flash in the pan,” she says. “These are important issues that [women] are facing and making future decisions on right now, which makes our platform more important than ever.”

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