The facts are clear and indisputable — women make 77.5 cents for every dollar a man makes, and four in ten companies have no women in senior management. Even Facebook — home to one of tech’s most famous women, Sheryl Sandberg — has no women on its board. Gen Y women are less likely to speak up in the workplace, and though many feel that they are underpaid, they ask for a raise less frequently than their male counterparts.
That’s why Levo League was formed. “Levo is Latin for ‘to polish’ and ‘elevate,’ and the name is essentially connoting the fact that we are coming together as a community to mutually enhance each other’s lives,” explains Levo League CEO Caroline Ghosn.
Ghosn and her co-founder Amanda Pouchot (2008 graduates of Stanford and UC Berkeley, respectively) are Gen Y women who met at their first job at McKinsey. In that fast-paced and male-dominated environment, they mentored and consulted each other and commiserated over the fact that they didn’t have older, experienced women they could reach out to for advice. The women left McKinsey to start Levo League last year, and the site officially launched on March 20.
Ghosn and Pouchot say that too often, young women are resentful of others’ success — but it doesn’t have to be that way. “There’s plenty of room for everyone’s success — your success doesn’t mean that my success is limited,” says Pouchot, adding that the purpose of Levo is to encourage women to band together to elevate everyone’s potential.
“It’s okay to stand on a mountaintop and say, ‘I’m awesome!’” says Pouchot. And she and Ghosn say that awesome and successful women have an obligation to give back and help other women achieve what they have.
Pouchot’s undergrad research was about how to get women to the top, and consequently, the Levo League product is very research-based. They know that if a job description has gender-specific terms, such as “competitive,” women are less likely to apply. And a woman won’t apply to a job unless she has 100% of the qualifications listed, whereas a man will apply with only 65% of them. And women think about more than money when deciding whether to take a job. “They want to know whether they’ll fit in, whether they’ll be nurtured and if they can see a future there,” says Pouchot.
What Levo League Offers
Unlike the Facebook and LinkedIn UIs, which provide lists of people you do know and a list of people you should know, Levo League’s welcome page presents you with something a bit more aspirational — a corner office. The UI is beautiful, and you can navigate to a career search, office hours, mentoring from successful women and other yet-to-be-launched features. Mentoring topics include workplace relationship advice, professional fashion guidance, how to ask for a raise and some of the “softer skills” around success that you typically have to learn as you go, or you consult your mom or sister.
“When we were courting investors, we asked for thought partners, not just money,” says Ghosn, adding that many of the investors are involved as mentors. And these women understood the necessity of something like Levo League immediately. “We didn’t really have to explain the need for Levo — [investors] just wanted to know what we’re doing to fix it, because the problem is clear.”
“We’re really hitting a pain point,” says Pouchot. “But we’re not angry, we’re not complaining — we’re talking about what we can do to succeed and help each other.”
In addition to the community-building aspect of Levo League, the site also has a company-facing recruiting platform. Ghosn and Pouchot learned that many startups hire friends of friends because they don’t know where else to find talent, and they hope Levo will help to connect women with their future employers. Because Levo League exists to help women discover what it is they want to do and find the next step in their careers, it only makes sense that the companies should be able to recruit the talent that will help them achieve their visions within the Levo League platform (they pay a fee to do so).
Levo League now has more than 100 companies on board, which fall into three buckets — non-profit and cultural organizations; startups and small businesses and corporations. Users can cross-compare potential employers — such as AOL, Pencils of Promise, McKinsey, Pfizer, Gilt Groupe and more — since Levo’s company profiles use the same metrics. If a user finds her “dream job,” she can “hide” it so that no one can see it, except the recruiter at that company. In fact, when she searches for candidates, you’d be the first result — by moving you to the top of her list, Levo League essentially gives you the advantage with HR that’s typically obtained via personal connections.
Ghosn and Pouchot place a heavy emphasis on mentorship — but there aren’t enough Sheryl Sandbergs in the world to have coffee with everyone who asks. So, in addition to the peer-to-peer mentorship encouraged on Levo, you’ll find one-to-many mentorship opportunities, in which young women have access to top-notch female executives.
They came up with “office hours,” inspired by the vibrant, open-door discussions that Ghosn and Pouchot experienced as undergrads. Each week, different women — such as New York Senator Kirstin Gillibrand, Banters.com founder Lauren Leto and Bianchini, to name a few — open theirs doors to questions from Levo women and expound on various career topics. The conversations are accessible later, as individual question-and-answer bundles, so the site is building an archive of career advice. Office hours not only let many women benefit from the insights of high-power women, but the fact that they’re online means the mentorship opportunities are democratized. Just this week, a coder from the Philippines was able to ask Gina Bianchini her most pressing questions. “When would she ever have been able to do that [before Levo]?” says Ghosn.
The site is young, and the founders are focusing on user experience — they’re only granting access to 10,000 women in first month.
“We want to make those first 10,000 so happy that when we offer them invites, they’ll tell everyone,” says Pouchot. By the end of the summer, she and Ghosn hope to have one million users.
Once they have a large user base, Ghosn and Pouchot want to enhance the user experience and make sure Levo League feels just as intimate as it does now. They’ll offer more office hours, and they’ll host offline events, panels and meetups so the women can network with one another in person.
“We want to bring the best of what we’re doing into the physical sphere,” says Ghosn.
And then, there’s international growth. Ghosn, who’s French-Brazilian and grew up in Japan, hopes to take Levo League global. “I think we’re going to have massive opportunity, and I’m really excited to do that,” she says.
Social Media Job Listings
Every week we post a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we publish a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!
- Drupal Developer, Marketing+Communications Team at Teach For America in New York
- Social Media Account Manager at Rogers and Cowan in Los Angeles
- Senior Analyst and Researcher at MoveOn.org in Berkeley, CA
For more Business coverage:
- Follow Mashable Business on Twitter
- Become a Fan on Facebook
- Subscribe to the Business channel
- Download our free apps for Android, Mac, iPhone and iPad