Companies We Love: Alice and Olivia

In celebration of International Women's Day—and #WomenWhoWork, every day.

Women are rising into leadership roles, now, more than ever. Considering we make up 51-percent of the population, and 40-percent of primary breadwinners are female, it's only fitting that there's a more equal representation of women's voices in the upper echelons of every industry. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re encouraging leaders of both sexes to consider their corporate culture, and create workplaces that empower more women to thrive. We spoke to Alice and Olivia CEO and Creative Director Stacey Bendet about the strides she's making in establishing a brand that women want to work for—and the takeaways that apply to any company, in fashion or otherwise. Companies We Love: Alice and Olivia

1. Be nice, no matter what

“I require niceness at my office,” says Alice and Olivia CEO and creative director Stacey Bendet, “and I have a zero-tolerance policy for bitchiness. People need to feel comfortable to do their best work. I want women who work here to feel good about themselves and their work.”

2. Support professional growth

“I want my employees, especially women, to feel like they can have it all, and I want them to grow,” says Stacey. “The only limits are the ones you place on yourself.” Create opportunities for talented women to achieve their professional goals within the company. Stacey has had executive assistants go on to work in Alice and Olivia’s photography department; former interns are now executives.

3. Create a flexible maternity leave policy

“When I had my third daughter, I came back to work after six days, but I worked half-days,” says Stacey. “I preferred that option over coming back after two months and working late every night trying to catch up. I wanted to work until the day I gave birth, but I know that not everyone is like that.” She has many employees who choose to take a full eight weeks off, and that’s fine, too. One employee came back after a couple of weeks of maternity leave and continues to take Fridays off to be with her kids instead. “Alice and Olivia has a 93% return rate in women who take maternity leave,” she tells us. Companies We Love: Alice and Olivia

4. Set an example

“My business partner had kids before I did, and she showed me that you can be a powerhouse executive and a nurturing mother at the same time,” says Stacey. “We try to set an example for our employees without judgment or expectation. Not everyone is going to come back six days after giving birth like I did, but I want my employees to know that it’s okay to want to.”

5. Keep mom-friendly hours

Schedule meetings and set hours based around a traditional mom’s schedule. That means no early-morning meetings during school drop-off or commitments after 6:00PM. “Be cognizant of what it takes to be a good parent, and what that schedule looks like,” says Stacey. When in doubt, “plan important things when kids are generally in school.”

Images courtesy of Stacey Bendet