This week, we’re introducing you to Kim Butler, a friend of Diane’s who works as Director of Leasing for Hall Financial in Frisco and The Arts District in Dallas. Kim talked with us about the benefits of being a long-term employee at your company instead of changing companies every few years.
4word: In Work, Love, Pray, Diane talks about the importance of finding a company that fits you for the long term, but the trend seems to be people changing careers and switching companies every few years. What are the benefits of being an employee with longevity at your company?
Kim: I was sharing with Diane that I had made the observation over the years that the women who had been with a company for a period of time before they had children generally were afforded more flexibility as new mothers balancing work and parenting. This was because they had enough tenure and experience to have proven their value to the company. The leadership within the company had seen what they could do and wanted very much to keep them – and keep them happy.
4word: What exactly do you mean when you talk about flexibility?
Kim: With today’s technology, flexibility is so much easier for a company to provide now than it was when I was starting my family. A young woman just needs to prove that she can get the job done and be responsive to clients (internal or external) regardless of where she is: in the office, at home with a child who is under the weather, travelling for business, visiting out of town relatives or on vacation.
I led a national women’s initiative at my company a number of years ago to evaluate if we were in fact a good company in which women could grow their careers. My team and I objectively evaluated our company on the many factors that contribute to a woman’s success.
As a decentralized company, so much of it boiled down to the attitude of each Regional President and his view (they were all men) of how to manage the work environment to accommodate the needs of the women in his region. I presented case studies to the board of what was working in certain regions, and our findings were eye opening to board members in other regions not familiar with the idea of flexibility.
4word: Can you give us an example of a time when you or a friend benefited from your long history as a good employee with your company?
Kim: The top producer in Dallas the year prior to my presentation was a woman who had required time off in the last trimester of her pregnancy and after the baby was born. The company’s IT person equipped her home office with high speed Internet and all the tools she needed to perform her job from home. Her junior team members came to her home for team meetings and interfaced in person with her clients for that period of time. She talked daily with her clients from her home office. Her clients and the company so valued her work and service level that they were happy to work with her, even from her home. As a result, she continued to perform well.
The very same result occurred in our Houston office. The top producer that year had been a female who had sustained an extensive injury in an automobile accident. The company provided her with what she needed to work from the hospital and home. She had earned the respect and confidence of her leadership, her teammates and her clients – so much so that they were bending over backwards to see that she was able to do her job.
These ladies paved the way for others – other women and other men who had issues arise that required the company to make accommodations for them. As a result, the people for whom these accommodations were made became dedicated employees to this company.
4word: What should young professional women look for when they are trying to find a company that suits them for the long term?
Kim: As I advise young women who are deciding which company to dedicate their time and talent to, I tell them to do their due diligence. Ask questions of the people in the company and of those who know the people in leadership positions in the company. Do they have families? Do any of the men in leadership roles have dual income families? Are there currently women in the company in leadership roles? How long have they been there? Do they have children? Get to know the people within the company, and they will likely share stories with you that will give you insight into the company’s culture.