Milena Berry has the type of lifestyle many harried working moms would kill for. She’s a CEO who works from home most days and adjusts her working hours to ensure plenty of quality time with her family. She also builds room into her schedule for herself, enjoying yoga, cycling, and other exercise.
But Berry, 37, doesn’t want to be one of just a few women to achieve that coveted goal of work/life balance. She wants to be one of many — and it’s her job to make that happen.
Berry and Katharine Zaleski are the co-founders of PowerToFly, a new company that matches women with technical and editorial skills to remote work opportunities that allow them to control their schedules. The company includes recruits from around the globe, with women based everywhere from Brazil to India.
“The whole idea here is to change the nature of work across the board for women,” Zaleski, 33, PowerToFly’s president and also a mom, told me. There are “women who are very experienced who have obviously other obligations … why should they have to spend 10 hours a day in an office and two hours on either side commuting when they can be just as efficient or more efficient working from home?”
Berry and Zaleski bring major chops to their new venture. Zaleski was one of the first employees of The Huffington Post back when it was just an unknown start-up and later worked as executive producer and head of news products at The Washington Post. Berry was the chief technology officer of the global civic group Avaaz.org, where she managed a remote team working across the globe — an experience that proved to her that employees don’t have to be in the office to be effective.
Given its founders’ tech and news backgrounds, PowerToFly has concentrated on recruiting techies — developers, web designers, etc. — and is now expanding into editorial-related jobs for writers, community managers, and more. Job candidates must fill out applications and, if their qualifications are up to snuff, are interviewed by PowerToFly staffers before being recommended for job openings. Major brands like Buzzfeed, Hearst, and Zaleski’s old employer, The Washington Post, have hired PowerToFly candidates and there are more companies on deck.
Allowing women to “work on their own terms” helps companies attract more female candidates, Berry said. And getting more women on staff is just good business, Zaleski added.
“Women are the biggest household spenders by far across the world,” she said. “Why would you have a bunch of guys making products that women are going to buy? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Moms aren’t the only ones applying to PowerToFly. The company, which features a social media-like website for applicants, has garnered interest from educated women in the Middle East who’ve had trouble finding work closer-to-home at male-dominated companies where women are banned, Zaleski said. There are also women who, for one reason or another, live in areas where jobs in their fields are hard to find, so remote work is their best bet for pursuing fulfilling careers.
More than 350 women have signed up with PowerToFly, which has been in business for a few months but had its official launch on Aug. 18, and some 10 percent have been hired.
But if Berry and Zaleski have their way, those numbers will skyrocket and will someday include women working in a variety of fields.
“We hope to make a difference,” Berry said, “for millions of talented women around the world.”
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