How to Break The Status Quo
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge, so we’ve spoken to a host of female leaders doing just that. CEO of Clearbanc, Michele Romanow is using AI to challenge traditional VC investment. With decisions based on data and not ‘who you know’ Clearbanc has invested in 8x more women than men in the UK. CMO of Fiverr Gali Arnon, believes freelance marketplaces are helping to diminish the gender pay gap for women across the world and Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls is on a mission to get more women into coding.
Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls:
“Even in 2021, the gender gap remains a global issue in the workplace—especially in technology-related fields. With this year’s International Women’s Day theme as #ChooseToChallenge, we have an opportunity to voice the gender and diversity challenges within tech and explore how individuals and organisations can enact change.
To achieve gender parity in the tech industry, organisations must establish a company culture that empowers collaboration and communication between women in the workplace. Key to its success is ensuring that this initiative is not just driven by the leadership team but supported by the entire team. This will allow for an open and inclusive culture to be created, that empowers female voices within the business and facilitates the discussion and learning of their shared experiences.
No matter where you are in your career—whether you are looking to make a fresh start in tech or are already established within the field—integrating yourself in a community will be an invaluable way to access support and guidance from other females within the same sector. Not only will a community help you to expand your network of personal and professional contacts, but it can also help with support and advice. At Code First Girls, we have built a community of over 25,000 women who actively help each other to break into and excel in the tech industry. We are always looking to grow our community, and offer support no matter whether remote or in-person!”
Michele Romanow, Co-founder and President of Clearbanc:
“Disrupting the status quo and questioning convention is at the heart of #ChoosetoChallenge. But enabling change is hard, so you have to be prepared to hear no a lot. Not everyone will believe in you or your vision, which is exhausting. These “elastic stings'' used to affect me much more at the start of my career. Now, I’ve shifted my mindset and say, “I was expecting that. This is the motivation I need to go out and prove them wrong.”
When looking back to my parents’ generation, my choices would’ve been limited to roles like being a teacher, nurse or maybe someone’s assistant — all great careers but, essentially everything I would be bad at! We’ve come a long way, but there is still more to be done. That’s why I’m so motivated by what we’re doing at Clearbanc. We’ve helped 8x more female founders get funding. Every day, we help more people build their dream no matter who they are or where they’re from.”
Melissa Snover, CEO and Founder of Get Nourished:
“Simply being the female founder of a tech start-up could be considered to be challenging the status quo when you contemplate that just 7% of tech companies are fully female-founded. In comparison – 12% are founded by a mixed team, and a huge 81% are fully male founded.
It can be difficult for anyone to navigate the funding ecosystem, but when you consider the findings from the recent Rose Review, it's clear that there are still challenges to overcome to give equal opportunities across the board. In our move to challenge the status quo, we decided to partner with a fellow female-founded company, Clearbanc, that can help us achieve our goals. Through the use of their proprietary AI system Clearbanc aims to remove the bias from traditional VC funding, which translates into more capital being extended to female founders on the platform in comparison to the industry average.
When we were introduced to Clearbanc through an investor, we were in the process of looking into the different options open to us, what rates were available and the different models on the market - Clearbanc gave us the most flexibility and the best rates, so it was an easy decision. With Clearbanc’s support, we have been able to invest heavily in marketing in both the UK and USA, allowing us to test new channels more aggressively, with fantastic results.
While there is still a way to go, I do feel that we are starting to see a shift in attitudes towards investment in female first businesses within the investment community. In 2019 I raised the biggest ever seed round for a solo female founder in the UK - a record-breaking £2 million - I really hope that this demonstrates a shift and also acts as inspiration for others to go after their own goals!”
Gali Arnon, Chief Marketing Officer of Fiverr:
“Research has shown that COVID-19 has exacerbated gender disparity in the workplace, with women being more likely than men to lose work and have greater responsibilities with childcare during the crisis. However, at Fiverr this is not the case, with female freelancers actually earning 9% more than male freelancers. So how has Fiverr bucked the trend and reversed what’s happening in the corporate world?
In the global freelance industry, quality work takes precedence so factors such as gender bias are diminished. Fiverr customer reviews are a major deciding factor when selecting a freelancer, so, unlike the traditional labour marketplaces, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion do not come into play on our platform.
It is essential that we choose to challenge the gender inequalities that have been heightened by the pandemic. Recent research by The Female Lead reveals that COVID has aggravated the ‘unentitled mindset’ (the theory that women have been socially conditioned to feel less entitled than men) and has resulted in the burden of domestic chores falling disproportionately to women. It’s crucial to provide an environment where we can counter these trends and ensure that we succeed offline in the way Fiverr has online. We have created a level playing field where individuals are judged by their credentials on their profile, a visual portfolio, and reviews from past clients; eliminating the issue of wrongly ingrained prejudices. Technology has the potential to continually help remove the stigma but we must translate this to every corner of our society.”