Throughout this March, I’ve enjoyed seeing how different companies celebrate Women’s History Month and honor women on their teams, specifically on March 8th, International Women’s Day. I’ve especially appreciated seeing companies explain how they make gender equality a year-round priority. HiBob was no exception. 

Empowering women in today’s workplace is something I’ve been fortunate to experience since I started at HiBob. “Walking the walk” or, in Bobber language, “drinking your own Merlot,” is something that I’ve been witness to since my very first interview.  

How HiBob drinks its own Merlot

I started working at HiBob a month and a half before the birth of my second child. Yes, I was very pregnant. During my interview process, I mentioned my pregnancy every step of the way, expecting it to be an issue that I would be going on maternity leave very soon after starting a new position. 

A year and a half later, it’s safe to say that I was wrong in assuming that my pregnancy would be a hindrance. I knew HiBob considered itself a people-centric company, but the proof, as they say, was in the pudding. But actually, my journey to HiBob started with another woman. Someone strong and inspiring in my life who encouraged and empowered me to make the scary choice to switch jobs when I did.

We’re people first, employees second

When I decided to leave my previous job, friends, family, co-workers, and even interviewers for other companies asked me why I didn’t wait until I was on maternity leave. After all, why would anyone consider me? I had a job already with great managers, but the problem was that I didn’t feel passionate about the work I was doing there. It was actually my former CEO who convinced me to start looking for something that suited me better. 

I’m a big believer in transparency, so when she laid out her plans for my future at the company, I informed her that I didn’t think it would be the right move for me to come back after my maternity leave ended. Without missing a beat, she said, “Listen, I don’t want to lose you, but we are people first and workers second. If you’re not happy, you start looking now.” 

I argued, saying no one would give me a second thought when I was so far along. “The right company will,” she adamantly said. “Hiring is a long-term investment. A company that is so short-sighted that they will pass you up just because of that is not the company you belong in.” 

During this life-changing conversation with my former CEO, I didn’t realize how integrated the term “people first” would become into my life and my work. This philosophy, as well as her example of a good manager prioritizing what’s best for their people, is essentially what led me to HiBob.

Finding an organization where my professional path and passions meet

Since I already had a job, I had the luxury of only applying to companies whose work and mission I believed in. I was able to be picky and focus on the company culture, its values, and how they matched up with mine. It was the first time I had the fortune of being able to put the way a company made me feel over the need to pay my bills. 

During my search, I found that HiBob checked all of these boxes. Since I joined, the company has proven time and time again that it understands my needs as an individual with a life and priorities outside of work. As HiBob CEO Ronni Zehavi frequently says, “There is no such thing as work-life balance. It should be life-work balance. Life always comes first.”

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What real people-first cultures look like 

My pre-mat leave time at the company turned out to be shorter than I had hoped. About two weeks after starting, I was put on bed rest and could no longer go into the office. No one batted an eye, and my manager and teammates told me over and over again that my health and the baby’s health were what mattered most. 

Bed rest turned into an urgent C-Section, and my maternity leave came quicker than expected. When my baby was born, I received gifts from the company,  my team, and individual co-workers. Some of my teammates even came to visit and celebrate with me. 

Four months later, I returned to work with my son starting daycare. HiBob’s flexible hybrid work model encourages us to put our work and personal responsibilities on equal terms. This made pumping for my baby as needed easy and low-stress because there was no stigma around pausing work for personal obligations like being a mother. I was able to pick my newborn and my older son up on most days, spend time with them, and resume working from home once they were asleep. True flexibility means being able to prioritize both my family and my job.

People-first policies make people-first culture official

During maternity leave, I received payment and benefits at a level that reflected that of someone who had been at a company for a year, not a month. If you had asked me at the time, I would have said that the company’s treatment of parents went far beyond expectations. HiBob, however, always looking to grow and improve, didn’t agree. A few months after I came back to work, they put out a new and improved Global Parental Leave Policy. 

In addition to providing all birth-giving Bobbers paid pregnancy and disability recovery for up to 15 weeks, the new policy (dubbed “HiBaby”) states that “all parents (birth-giver, non-birth giver, adoptive parent, foster parent, etc.) will now receive three weeks of 𝗕𝗮𝗯𝘆 𝗕𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲, which can be used any time during the first six months, and can be split up into two periods.” 

I was fortunate during my leave that my husband’s company allowed him to work from home in the beginning so that he could be around for the first few weeks of the baby’s life. Many of my friends have partners whose employers only provide a day or two off. This left moms alone to deal with a newborn, postpartum (and sometimes postoperative) recovery all at once—without any help from their partners. If more companies start offering paid parental leave for both parents, like at HiBob, the closer the world will get to true equity and equality in the workplace.  

But, the new HiBaby policy doesn’t end with Baby Bonding Leave. It also includes a re-onboarding clause that allows birthing parents’ re-entry into the world of work to be as seamless as possible. When I started my leave, there were 350 Bobbers—I came back to 700 … so I’m a big fan of this one. 

Additionally, birthing parents now get a soft landing when they return to work. The HiBaby policy allows us to return to an 80 percent workday at a full-time salary for the first month, demonstrating how much the company values my family as much as my contributions to the business.

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It takes a village to raise a child

At HiBob, we refer to ourselves as a village. One of our company values is “bring me, win as we.” We succeed together by collaborating professionally and by supporting each other in and out of the workplace. That’s what being a village means. The way I was treated and the HiBaby policy have shown me how true this is. 

I am proud to be a Bobber. I am proud to work for a company that prioritizes its people and their needs, which is what we built our product to help other businesses do. I am grateful to work for a company that prioritizes my needs as a mother, career woman, and (most importantly) as a person.

Ale Schlesinger

From Ale Schlesinger

Ale is HiBob’s social media manager. As you may be able to tell by her posts, she thinks she’s funnier than she probably is. Seeking a way to combine her passion for writing with her background in psychology, she found her way to content and social marketing.