Ashley Connell reveals how reentering the workforce can be better understood with her work from The Prowess Project. Women looking to get back into the workforce can engage with this initiative that acts as an employment agency. While with the agency, women can also build relationships, and learn skill development in EQ to mesh the right opportunities for better employment.
Among women who take two to three years off to raise children, 43% of those women will lose 37% of her compensation power for the remainder of her professional career. Ashley, who was wondering about having a family one day, explained how shocked she was at this statistic as she did research on what the future might hold. In talking to professional women that were living examples of this statistic Ashley found patterns to the workforce reentry barriers for women. She shared the number one barrier of reentry for women, and continued on how curious conversations led to the initiative looking at parts of the hiring process from a more inclusive lens.
Contrary to common thinking, hiring managers care less about the hard skills on a resume than the soft skills that are more nuanced. Ashley explained how looking through thousands of resumes listing hard skills and experience doesn’t translate to how a possible employee would fit culture-wise. Behavior and emotional intelligence are two indicators for the fit of an employee to a company. Ashley shared the observations backing the need for emotional intelligence, empathy, and understanding the needs from both sides of the employee-employer relationship.
Alongside the employee-employer relationship, Ashley emphasized the impacts of peer support. The Prowess Project incorporates organic relationship building between the women engaged with the initiative. Providing a space to connect allows women to bounce ideas off each other, learn what different versions of success look like, and even give them a chance to bond over hobbies. Ashley shared how it’s not unusual that they’ll see groups where one woman might want a 10hr work-week, while another wants to go into full-time.
“It’s all these different ways that these women can choose their own adventure when it comes to getting back in.”— Ashley Connell
For women in the workforce, especially relating to leadership, there are three key relationships of support. Ashley expressed that you need three different types of people in order to be “successful”: your manager, your mentor, and a sponsor. She went further on explaining what each role brings to an individual, and clarifying that the relationships go two-ways. She shared her own story of realizing she was bringing value to her mentor, despite feeling nervous about how she was perceived. Through relationships and community initiatives can really take shape. Ashley gave examples from her own journey, including the community support that helped fuel and pivot her business.
Ashley talked more about the resources available to women through the initiative and invites people who support women professionals to participate in conversations.