In the space of a week I read about LinkedIn’s new headquarters building in San Francisco and Apple’s new spaceship in Cupertino. Both are marvels of design and engineering. They are equipped with all of the latest technology and amenities that a modern workforce could want.
What I found interesting was that all of the amenities seemed geared mostly towards attracting and retaining young males. Huge gyms and fitness facilities, music studios, gamer related art, etc. Everything about these facilities scream “We want 20-something men!” There was a clear absence of any mention of daycare or child care facilities.
My initial reaction was disappointment and a lost opportunity to recruit and retain women in the technological workforce. That’s until I did a quick google search and learned that women will probably never make up more than 46% of the overall working population and there has been a decline in women in tech over the past ten years. These designs aren’t misogynistic but are instead reacting to what they predict their future employees are going to look like (young and male.)
I will leave the debate about whether these companies (or the education and labor system) are doing enough to create equality in the workforce for another day.* What I want to focus on is how these companies are looking at what their projected employees are going to look like, and then creating space that will attract and retain them.
It’s an interesting lesson to consider, whether you’re a 20 person accounting firm or a 600 person tech firm. Where are your employees going to live over the next decade? Where will they want to work? Will they demand work/life balance as they are family oriented? Is your hiring pool tilted towards men or women?
As you work through those questions, think about culture and how the facility can create the environment that reinforces those values. Maybe, like Patagonia, you see that child care is a huge benefit for your workforce. Or maybe you acknowledge that there will be high turnover as people exit their 20s and you create buildings that young employees consider a second home.
Leaders create culture, but facilities can help reinforce it.
*for the record, I have two daughters. I would love to see a working environment where they have every opportunity to thrive, no matter what industry they choose.