Meet Shannon Eis, Yelp Parents Executive Sponsor

What does it mean for you to be the Executive Sponsor of Yelp Parents?

Most importantly, it lets me work with parents across all of Yelp’s offices so that I can stay connected to the issues and opportunities that are shaping their experience here. The commitment that our Yelp Parents have to keeping each other motivated and inspired at work, and supported in their parenting adventures, has been a really awesome thing to witness.

What do you want your kids to learn from watching you advocate for parents in the tech workplace?

Any child of a working parent learns a lot of lessons every day about tradeoffs and responsibilities…and those lessons usually aren’t fun. My kids know that being a working parent is hard, but they think it’s cool that Yelp wants to make it a little easier by giving us the chance to connect, create cool activities and have conversations that make us stronger for our families and our colleagues. Full disclosure: there have been a few times when I’ve taken home some new “ideas” to implement in our house that I learned from my Yelp colleagues….so my kids already know that their world can be changed (and improved!) as a result of these connections.

What advice do you have for working parents? What advice do you have for managers that have parents on their teams?

There are lots of books and blogs full of advice for working parents, but the most useful thing I’ve done in my career is ensure that any company I join has a culture rooted in humanity and empathy. Life moments (parenting and otherwise) come at you fast, so it’s important to build a trusting and supportive relationship with your colleagues and leaders, who may, at some point, be put in a position to air cover for you….and you for them.

For managers with parents on their teams — respect is (always) the most important part of any working relationship. Mutual respect, empathy and clear accountability are the best ways to work with parents who are, undoubtedly, juggling as much at home as they are at work. Establishing a team dynamic that is rooted in consideration and cooperation will definitely drive productivity and quality work. And, as with most things, the only path to achieving any of this is through clear communication.

Why is it important to have a parents Employee Resource Group at tech companies?

Employee Resource Groups provide a lot of benefit to the communities they support…and for the company itself, these groups allow the business to stay dialed into the needs of its employees. For parents in particular, these groups create a network that shares an orbit around important issues that matter to them, beyond their desks and to-do’s. Employee groups can help companies discuss and create solutions for various business challenges, their ideas can help improve manager training processes and benefits, and sometimes they just provide a safe place to laugh out loud at the ‘life moments’ that are shaping us as parents and professionals.

A company either creates a welcome and supportive environment for parents…or it doesn’t. Parents at Yelp is the most important resource we have to ensure that we’re delivering on our promise to parents – these are people who have chosen Yelp as the place to be when they can’t be with their kids….and that’s a big deal. If we don’t listen to, support and work with our parent employees, then we are missing out on all that they bring to the table.

What impact has the group had on company policy and culture and what you do hope to see next?

We’ve received a lot of good feedback from our Parents groups that we’re already beginning to implement. Sometimes it’s culture-driven ideas like training new managers how to communicate with parents on their teams during big moments (“We’re having a baby!”) and smaller day-to-day realities (“Need to work from home today to care for a sick child.”)…so that unexpected life moments can be more easily managed. Other ideas have ranged from philanthropic partnerships and new health/wellness benefits to family events, childcare services and speaker series that help busy parents have access to the expertise they want. Our parent groups are focused less on social gatherings than they are on having a positive impact on the business and company culture. They want to address important issues and implement big ideas to ensure that Yelp remains a place where parents are valued and they play a big role in the company’s success.

I hope that our parents group can continue to shape our team culture in ways that make us stronger and even more human every day. I’ve seen the tremendous impact this group has had in supporting each other and creating change, and I believe there’s huge potential for that commitment to ripple throughout the company to other groups, and to future Yelp employees.

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