Werk Raises $2.9 Million to Improve Workplace Flexibility for Women

Werk, a job board platform focused on schedule flexibility, announced on August 4 that it closed its seed funding round, having raised $2.9 million. Female-run venture fund Rethink Impact led the round, joined by SoGal Ventures and Leah Busque. Previous investors Better Ventures, Halogen Ventures, and Precursor VC also participated.

The a reason New York-based Werk is attracting so much attention from investors looking to practice fiscal feminism? Created by two women, Anna Auerbach and Annie Dean, the job board platform specifically targets companies that are looking to attract top female talent by offering flexibility. These positions may have flexible hours, require little to no travel, or offer the option to work at home.

Even in the modern workplace, women struggle to “have it all,” both family and career, due to the complicated juggling act often required to balance a rigid schedule with the role of primary caregiver. According to an article by Paulette Light, published in The Atlantic in 2013, 43 percent of “highly qualified” women leave the workforce due to this issue.

Dean found out about this firsthand when she returned to work after the birth of her second child. “There was this moment when I was sitting at my desk in my law firm and I realized that there was no path forward for me,” Dean said in a recent interview with Fast Company. “I couldn’t work my way out of this hole because the way I was being asked to work was fundamentally incompatible with what my life required of me. I said to myself, ‘If I can’t handle this, what are all the other women doing?’”

Werk stands to benefit not only female job seekers, but also the companies who hope to increase their ranks with women who might traditionally dropout of the workforce altogether. According to McKinsey & Company’s January 2015 “Why Diversity Matters,” companies that practice gender diversity in their hiring decisions are “15 percent more likely to outperform their peers.”

In addition to hoping to create a more flexible workplace, Werk requires all positions listed on the job board to be eligible for a promotion so that women have access to upward career mobility. Promoting women to higher positions has already been found to be beneficial to employers. A recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which looked at almost 22,000 publicly traded companies, found there is a positive correlation between a company’s profitability and the number of women they employ in executive-level positions.

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Werk’s job board launched in February of this year. Businesses pay per open position posted, while job-seekers pay a yearly subscription fee of $48. Prior to closing the seed funding round, Werk had 150 hiring partners signed and had handled approximately 4,000 job applications. Major businesses using Werk to fill their flexible hiring needs include Saks Fifth Avenue, Samsung, Uber, Deloitte, and Birchbox.

Wait a second. Did I just say the site charges an annual subscription fee of $48? Indeed, the company is looking to diversify its income by charging job seekers in addition to companies. Historically, this has been a pretty crappy idea, so hats off to Werk for throwing caution to the wind in this way. People are getting more and more used to paying small fees to use products and services, so we’ll have to see if this trend takes off in the employment space. If nothing else, it’s sure to help keep men off the site.

About the Author

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.