For our next installment of HR Insider, I interviewed Andrea Greenblatt, VP of Operations at Re:Gender. Formerly known as the National Council for Research on Women, the organization was established in 1981 and became Re:Gender in March 2014. The organization works to end gender inequity and discrimination by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action.
Thanks for speaking with me today, Andrea. Tell me a little bit about your work at Re:Gender.
I have been working at Re:Gender for over 10 years and I’m the VP of Operations, which means that I manage all of the operations functions- finance, IT, HR, vendor management and communications. My unofficial role also seems to be to fill a hole when there is a vacancy, which I think comes from a combination of my job responsibilities, my nature and how long I’ve been here.
How did you get into this work?
I always knew that I wanted to go into public service or the non-profit sector. I started my career with direct service organizations that dealt with hunger and homelessness. When I had a child I realized that I wanted to take a break from 24/7 needs of direct service but still wanted to have an impact on the world, and I found Re:Gender – although it was called National Council for Research on Women at the time.
How much hiring do you do at your organization?
I am involved in all of the hiring. We’re a 6-person operation and I am the entire HR department. We hire as needed and sometimes rely on temporary part-time staff, which we prefer to hire directly. Our hiring needs ebb and flow, depending on the year and what the initiatives are.
We have a robust intern and volunteer program. We are philosophically opposed to unpaid interns - they have to be in a program where they are paid or eligible to earn credit in order to participate. However, we are open to working with volunteers in all of our departments.
What is your favorite Re:Gender initiative and why?
I don’t really have a favorite, but if pushed I would say our Community Innovation Fellowship program is my current favorite. It’s an American Express Foundation-funded program for 24 people who work in the nonprofit sector at the middle management level. Using the Theory of Change, our VP for Programs works with them on a project that puts a full gender lens on their own programs. It fits into our mission of putting a full gender lens on every issue.
What things should candidates know about your organization and its mission when applying for a job?
We have discovered that the most important thing is that they want to be here. It’s important that they have skills, but skills can be taught while the passion for being here cannot. You either have it or you don’t.
I once had an applicant who applied for three different positions over the course of a few months. She wasn’t a direct fit for any of them, but finally I just called her in to see what she could do and saw that she wanted to be here. That was key. That is what I’m looking for more than anything- that they not only believe in the mission but that this is the environment they want to work in: small, flexible, and up for an adventure.
What is the best way for a candidate to demonstrate to you that they believe in the mission of your organization?
I think it’s more about coming into the interview able to speak about what really we do and not what they think we do. People come in and say what we do is important but they say it in a very generalized way. If they can speak in terms of gender equity as opposed to women vs. men, that makes more of an impression. People who interview with us should take the time to really read what we do and be able to articulate it.
What do you wish interviewees asked you?
Things that I look for- are they asking specific questions about the organization? Are they asking in a way that shows they are really trying to get to know us?
If there was something that we just did, and it’s specific to the role, I would want them to ask specific questions about it. For example, if they are interviewing for a communications position, they should ask about our communications efforts. A specific question might be, “I see you have 12,000 Twitter followers, but how engaged are they?” They should be asking questions so I know they want to get a sense of what we really do.
What’s a common mistake you see among job seekers?
They should avoid asking questions that can be easily found on public documents. If they ask where we get our funding from, it shows me that they haven’t looked at our audit. Everybody should look at the audit and the annual report because it tells so much about the organization. If people ask me questions about that, it’s a red flag, but if they ask questions that build upon something from the annual report, then I know they looked at it.
What do you expect to see from a new hire 30 days after employment? After 1 year?
After 30 days, I would expect that they really have a sense of all the programming, names of key individuals in the network (e.g. board members, program partners, donors). They should understand where they fit in the context of the organization and what is coming up in the current year.
After one year, I would expect that they would be actively able to plan ahead because they know what’s coming ahead and what they need to do to jump into the role. They’ve been through the whole cycle so they should know when things are coming, what their role is in it, and what they need to do.
What’s one trait that all candidates need if they want to work in this cause area, regardless of role?
Good writing skills. They also need to understand the difference between gender issues and women’s issues, and they must understand our gender lens.
What misconceptions do people have about your cause area and organization?
People think we do primary research and we don’t. Our old name used to be the National Council for Research on Women. We’re not a think tank with researchers at our disposal; however, we do use research in our work.
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
We’re always looking for volunteers. We are lean but we are growing and trying to get our message out there.
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By Victoria Crispo