Aruba, February 14, 2019 – So you’ve got to hire a CFO. The traditional path would be to find someone who shows up early every day and cranks indefinitely. But what if your new CFO was a young mom who works remotely one or two days a week, or comes in from noon to 8 pm, or maybe even works part-time? She comes with the high-level experience you covet, but she wants flexibility — and to get it, she’s ready to deal.

That’s the idea championed by Manon DeFelice, founder of an executive search firm called Inkwell. After having her third child, DeFelice was struck by how hard it was to work a traditional job structure around family life, and saw she wasn’t alone: Research has shown that career women who leave the workforce for three years or more will lose up to 46 percent of their earning power. They’re full of ambition, but they can’t manage a 9-to-5. “I wanted to catch these women before they dropped out,” DeFelice says.

Inkwell has been placing these candidates in flexible roles for the past five years (the company takes 25 percent of the first-year salary), and though 80 percent of the company’s 4,000-candidate community is female, men are coming aboard, too. Not every company is immediately comfortable with the trade-off, though. Here are three case studies of startups that hired flexibly.

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