Jennifer Eleazar, Staff Accountant, “This was the kind of workplace I had been searching for.”
Before coming to OppLoans, I worked in public accounting. Anyone who has worked in that field can tell you the hours are grueling and the schedules inflexible. As the mom of two little ones, it wasn’t working for my family at all.
The final straw came during a two-month stretch wherein my husband was called out of state to work on a trial that coincided with audit and tax season. Every day I would get up at 4 a.m. and start working, get the kids to daycare by 7 a.m., work at the office until 5 p.m., pick the kids up, feed and bathe them, get them to bed at 9 p.m., then work until midnight. Wash, rinse, repeat.
After two months, I had enough. I started looking for something with a better work-life balance.
When I found OppLoans, I was intrigued. Whenever I check out a new company, I visit Glassdoor to read all the reviews — from the good to the bad to the ugly. I want to know what I’m getting myself into. And with OppLoans, I was blown away by all the positive things its employees had to say. This was the kind of workplace I’d been searching for.
In the year-and-a-half I’ve worked here, OppLoans has more than delivered. Working in accounting sometimes means long hours — that’s unavoidable — but OppLoans has provided me with more flexibility. That’s been huge. When I needed to take my daughter to the emergency room in the middle of the day, for instance, none of my supervisors blinked an eye. They understood why I had to drop everything and rush off. They appreciate that family comes first.
That hasn’t been the case everywhere I’ve worked. And many working parents or parents-to-be also face this dilemma. Too often, women are told to choose one: They can have children or advance their careers, but not both. With OppLoans, I found a company that doesn’t see kids and career as an either/or proposition. It’s a company that knows you should be able to have both.
As you can tell, I’m very passionate about this issue. It’s why I co-founded Oppt for Gender Equ(al)ity, our employee-led community dedicated to creating an inclusive, safe space for growth, support, education, and advancement for all OppLoans employees so we can be an industry leader in diversity and inclusion.
I decided to focus on gender equality — instead of solely women’s issues — because I wanted the group to be inclusive. Women aren’t the only ones who struggle with equality issues, and for this group to truly be inclusive, we need to foster alliances between our male and female workers and among employees of all gender identities. Addressing issues like paternity leave and same-sex adoption are just a couple examples that are important to achieving gender equality.
Oppt for Gender Equ(al)ity is doing work on several fronts. We hold networking events, including one focused on helping women in tech. Our philanthropy subcommittee organized a donation drive for Deborah’s Place, an organization that provides supportive housing and services for Chicago women who are homeless. A group of employees distributed those donations by co-hosting a bingo night at Deborah’s Place using a brand new OppLoans benefit: paid volunteer time off.
One of our most impactful initiatives is the employee mentorship program that pairs employees with senior and C-suite-level executives across the company — with an emphasis on cross-gender mentor-mentee pairings. So many of our employees have career ambitions or degrees in fields that don’t line up with their current role. This program helps further those goals while also providing career (and life) advice.
As a mom to two wonderful girls, I know I can be a role model for them by simply being a working woman, but creating long-lasting change is about more than that. It’s up to me to help build the kind of workplace I want them to enter when they grow up. That workplace should look a lot like the one we’re building here at OppLoans: supportive, diverse, enthusiastic, and devoted to serving its customers by helping its employees succeed.