We're chatting with Cynthia Olavarria on the Leadership Circle about women in male dominated fields. Cynthia is passionate about giving women a voice in spaces that traditionally tend to be very male dominated. She'll be sharing her insights on the challenges women face and how they can better navigate these environments.
She also loves helping organizations and figuring out how to better serve their people in an efficient way.
Meet Cynthia Olavarria
Cynthia Olavarria is the founder of We Connect HR, a strategic human resources organization.
They work with companies nationwide by identifying HR business challenges, and finding cost effective, and compliant solutions for growth, orientated businesses.
Cynthia has over 20 years of experience in human resources, sales, and operations. Her passion is to connect people and resources.
As a new college graduate, she was without connections to land that first professional HR job. Her eye doctor was able to provide her with a referral. She has made it her mission to help other women with networking, resources, and development.
Cynthia enjoys reading, travel and live music. She has 2 adult children, and a dog Nikita. She makes her home in Kansas City and is originally from New York.
Connect with Cynthia Olavarria:
Here's what we'll cover on this episode the The Leadership Circle ...
HR Technology encompasses everything from payroll, applicant tracking, benefits, to administration training. Everything is a software now. These technologies are amazing and can help drive the organization forward - however they don't always do work correctly, sometimes they don't work as expected or do what was promised, and sometimes they simply take time to learn. That's where Cynthia can help.
Cynthia: "I was pre-law in college and worked at a law firm for a year and realized if I wanted to have a family it wasn't going to be possible. All of the attorneys that were there had nannies and there was no work-life balance. There still is no work-life balance. Covid did a little bit of help for that, but there were no female attorneys.
Let's talk accounting, it's getting a lot better. I'm still seeing where they have to go in and fight to be heard, or to be a partner. I still see women who have to work 150% just because of their gender.
I'm passionate about helping them, because I just have that fight in me. I hate that they feel they can't speak up because they're in a corporate environment. Women don't like us to shake the trees. But we have to stand up and be heard."
We hear from women over and over again that they turn down corporate roles they thought they wanted because it won't support the lifestyle they want from their families. Cynthia believes we can fix this.
"Women want the company to have the values that they have or they're going to walk. So, it's a courtship between them and the company. If companies want to hire these women who are fully equipped to do the job, they're going to need to look at that work-life balance. We're seeing this shift where they don't have enough people filling the positions needed - so it's critical that these changes are implanted in order to keep their companies going."
Cynthia: "I know that there are a lot of organizations that have women's groups. So, mentorship, they're allowing them to have more professional personal development, which is great.
Regarding the benefits, they are really making a stride. I know a couple of companies that want people back in the office and they're male and female. These employees are saying no - they only want to go in a couple days a week, they don't want to be tethered to an office for a job they can do efficiently from home.
When it comes to benefits, companies have always been really good about gearing them toward the family, but I think the communication has always been geared toward the employee and they really need to open up that communication with the whole family. There's instances where the males in the senior management have their wives handle the benefits. Well, you need to help with that putting that together and actually have a vested interest in what your company provides.
And above all - I just think that women are now empowered to say, "I'm not going to be on the clock for 60 hours, so either you deal with that or I'm going to walk."
Traditionally, company benefits have been about health insurance and retirement plans. Cynthia believes companies should look beyond the traditional benefits and offer more modern, alternative options such as flexible schedules, parental leave policies and other family-friendly benefits.
Cynthia: "There are definitely the work-life balance benefits. And it's important that companies track their benefits, figure out who is actually using them, and figure out which ones are most attractive and beneficial to their teams.
A lot of companies are really looking at maternity leave, paternity leave, and more PTO. They're putting their paid time off together with sick leave. Because no one wants to rely on their PTO to be for sick days. Companies are starting to understand that not necessarily just the mom, but the dad can take off for if a child's sick.
I have worked for organizations that they want HR in the office at all times. The idea of needing to be in the office is old school. The old way of thinking is that we want you accessible at any time. If there is a crisis or if a higher up has an amazing idea and wants to chat about it right away, they want to be able to just walk down the hall. But women, and really people in general, are finding they don't want to be there for the company at all times, they want to support them yes, but they want to be available and accessible to their family if something happens.
I think there's still this hurdle on when you're not in the office. Women find themselves asking if they are going to see you for growth opportunities. That's the biggest hurdle I find we are currently working through with this new shift happening."
It is clear that companies need to make significant changes in order to attract and retain the best talent. Companies should focus on providing benefits beyond health insurance, such as flexible schedules, parental leave policies, and other family-friendly options. They must also be willing to embrace modern ways of working - including allowing employees to work remotely if needed. Additionally, they should ensure that their communication with both employees and families is open and transparent when it comes to benefits packages. By doing so, they will create a more attractive workplace for job seekers - especially female job seekers - while ensuring that everyone remains productive, feels supported, and maintains a beautiful work-life balance.
Connect with Cynthia Olavarria: