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What makes a tech company women-friendly?

Let’s start with a simple fact: one size doesn’t fit all anymore. It is important for companies to put in extra effort and create a true women-friendly work environment that allows women to grow and thrive as professionals.
At Le Wagon Tokyo, we want to make sure our graduates land a job at companies where they feel safe and thrive. During our Career Week, we offer high-level career coaching, interview practice, skills development and invite hiring companies for Q&A sessions so our alumni can get a glimpse of their values and work culture. 

Tech companies that are able to build collaborative teams are the ones with the greatest power for lasting success. But does it mean that every successful company has a women-friendly environment?

We talked with several Le Wagon Tokyo women graduates in tech-focused positions, about what makes a women-friendly workplace and how to find one. 

What does being a women-friendly workplace imply?

At a truly women-friendly workplace, companies provide equal opportunities for women at all seniority levels, regardless of their marital status and having/not having children. Women’s talent, ideas, potential and work are not limited by any of these factors.

The company I'm working for now is definitely a women friendly workplace. Me, my women teammates and managers have an equal say in projects. Our whole team is a mix of people who respect and care for each other.
Women-friendly companies put more women in positions of authority and invest in their growth, regardless of age or situation. They support women having children, provide maternity leave, and flexible work schedules when, and if necessary.

My current company is definitely a women friendly environment. The engineering team has a good male-to-female ratio, and are making sure I have all the support, and coaching I need to be the best developer I can be.

How to find a women-friendly workplace in Japan?

Do your research. Use websites like Glassdoor, Comparably, OpenWork (Japanese), and Hatarakigai (Japanese) to get a sense of how actual workers feel at different companies. Use key phrases in search engines, such as "(company) lawsuit" or "(company) controversy." Don't just search in English.

Communicate! Talk to other people who have worked in the industry, people in your network who are affiliated with a company, and peers who are also going to interviews. Have specific questions for them.

Organizations like Women Who Code and 50inTech list jobs from companies that actively want to hire women.

During hiring interviews, ask about benefits that matter to you, such as maternity leave, sick leave, and childcare leave. Ask about the dress code.

Trust your gut. If you don't feel comfortable talking with someone who would be working with you after several rounds of interviews, ask yourself why.
I recommend checking if the company provides seasonal holidays since you may want to save your paid leave for things like your monthly friend period or family's sickness.

During the interview, you probably should ask if the company has a career plan for its employees and if any job rotations are planned. It will help you plan your personal life and balance your work.

What are the red flags to look for when applying for a job?

Lacking diversity and female leadership could be a red flag. It is challenging to be a trailblazer and influence the company culture on top of trying to do your daily tasks. 

I would be cautious of companies that disregard the very nature of human life such as having families and life outside of work. They might have good intentions, for example, building a strong team culture. But if it is advertised in a way without distinction between work and personal life, it might mean they want you at work 24/7.

During the interview, ask the hiring manager to show a clear career path and examples of past employees who took it, women in particular. Check if they have examples of female employees with caregiving responsibilities. 

Negotiate your salary and ask how compensation & benefits are calculated. Is it transparent? Pay attention to their reaction and attitude - it could give you an idea on how this company might compensate you in the long run.
Thanks to our graduates for their tips & feedback!

Is your company a women-friendly workplace? Become our hiring partner: https://www.lewagon.com/tokyo/career-services
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