Women in Unicorn businesses almost as rare as Unicorns themselves

B2B tech Unicorns with more female leaders are more likely to have female staff in the rest of the organisation, according to findings from 'Part One: Female Inclusion' of leading European B2B SaaS Venture Capital firm Notion Capital’s report, Which Diversity Measures Work? 

This report, covering female inclusion in B2B tech Unicorns, is the first in a two-part series Notion is releasing this year. Part Two will assess how different diversity initiatives correlate with female inclusion within B2B Unicorns, calling out some examples of companies who can be seen as role models to others.

The study has identified that the average tenure for female leaders at B2B tech Unicorns is just 1.78 years, nearly half of the average tenure for male leaders which is 2.66 years. Additionally, on average just 21% of leaders at B2B Unicorns are women and women make up only 34% of the overall staff population.

The impact of female leaders on an organisation

If more of a B2B Unicorns’ leadership team are female, female leaders are likely to stay with the organisation for longer and the employee population will have a higher percentage who are women, the data has revealed. 

Interestingly, the research also found that 23% of female leaders had been promoted into the senior teams of their organisation versus just 19% of men. This suggests that women have more of a chance of reaching a high level if they start out in a more junior position. Female leaders in organisations that promote more women than men into senior roles also have a significantly higher tenure (1.68 years) than those at Unicorns where more men are promoted into these roles (1.44 years).

The importance of generous paid maternity leave

The report also looked into the correlation between generous fully-paid maternity leave at US Unicorns and levels of female inclusion. 

The length of available fully-paid maternity leave within an organisation positively correlates with a larger number of female leaders staying for a longer period at the Unicorn as well as a larger population of female staff overall.

An interesting finding was that the more closely the generosity of paternity leave (for fathers who are not the primary carer) matches the generosity of maternity leave (where mothers are the primary carer), the fewer female leaders there are and the shorter their tenure. In other words, if you offer mothers who are the full-time carer the same paid leave as fathers who aren’t the full-time carer, it’s likely that tenure and proportion of female leaders in your company will be at the lower end of the scale. 

Only US firms were studied in this section because Maternity and Paternity leave policies are different in each European company as a result of the statutory minimum restrictions, so comparing them didn’t give an equal footing. In the US, however, where the statutory minimum is consistent across all Unicorns (i.e. it doesn’t exist), Notion could get a better gauge of how policies correlate with female inclusion. 

Maddy Cross, Talent Director at Notion Capital who led the research, said: “During 2020 the conversations I’ve had around diversity and inclusion in the workplace have moved  from ‘Why is it important to include everyone?’ to ‘We know it’s important to include everyone, but how can we include everyone?” 

She continued, “I’m really hopeful that this research will be received as a guide to help leaders answer this question, so that the array of options they have - such as increasing the paid maternity leave that they offer, or setting diversity targets - becomes easier to navigate in terms of linking initiatives to outcomes.” 

You can read the full report here and find out more about Notion here.