International Women’s Day - let’s talk about gender equality at work
by Hanna Raeluoto, HR & Administration Director
Do you know where International Women’s Day started? It wasn’t a day when men just decided to start giving flowers to the women in their lives. It wasn’t a day when women decided that men should give them flowers on one specific day of the year. Women’s Day started as a demonstration in New York in 1909 for better pay, shorter hours, better working conditions, and the right to vote for women. The United Nations made Women’s Day official in 1975, and nowadays the UN chooses a topic for each year to bring attention to a certain topic.
This year, 2021, the UN’s chosen topic is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flowhaven is - as any company should be - doing its part in improving gender equality by practicing equality and diversity every day. Since Covid-19 fully landed in Europe and the US in March 2020, we have grown our team from 18 to 46 employees globally with diversity numbers we can be proud of:
52% of all employees are women
40% of the leadership team members are women
57% of all supervisors (people management) are women
45% of employees in the management level or above (including expertise roles for example Senior Developers) are women
No matter how much we grow, Flowhaven is a Nordic company at heart, and part of being Nordic is having high standards for gender equality. One thing that we have noticed during the year of Covid is that family - that is often seen as a women's domain - has become closer to the center in Flowhaven as well. We have seen “the young Flowhaveners'' being part of our weekly all team meetings or interrupting that important online presentation that can’t be interrupted - and funny thing, the world hasn’t fallen when these imperfections we call children, have become closer to the center of the most sacred - the business.
Why is this so important? For two reasons. The more we see men with kids, men struggling to keep the kids happy while doing work (and succeeding in that as well or as poorly as women do), the more equal the idea of a family becomes. And that leads us to the next point. The more equal the idea of a family is considered to be, the fewer women are being discriminated against being moms or potential moms.
We are often asked how did we get here? What is our secret behind the awesome gender diversity numbers? It’s not about having one or two tricks in your sleeve, it all comes down to genuinely having an equal opportunity culture. The good side is that if it doesn’t come naturally to you, it is something you can learn. Here are 3 tips to get you started:
The starting point is that when starting the hiring process, you make the employee profile. If it is a position you by default think as one or the other gender (most of us often do that), create the profile for the opposite sex. Start with creating the name, age, and education/background this person might have. Challenge your views. Then write the job ad for that personality you have created. By doing this, you have already evened the playing field (and doubled your great applicants).
And then, of course, the other thing is equal pay. Create a job ladder with starting salaries for each level. A job ladder is not about tasks, it’s about job complexity, behaviour patterns, and anti-patterns. It sounds simple to say that equal work deserves equal salary, but so often it is about “who asks most, get’s most”. A job ladder is also a great tool for personal growth for employees and if you use the ladder fairly and unbiased, you never have to worry about your employees comparing their salaries.
The third thing hits home for tech startups. So many of them are founded by men, usually young men. But at some point, you need to grow your team beyond the initial “boys club”. And (latest) at that moment you need to stop acting like it’s a boys club. Make sure your communication is gender neutral. Make sure you create the compensation structure (base salary and health care, insurance + other benefits) in a way that it supports both women and men. Make sure you have both women and men planning for company outings. You don’t have to know it all, the secret is that you ask in a way that women’s voices are heard as well.
This blog post is inspired by Women’s Day, but it’s important to understand that diversity in any and every form is an important competitive advantage for any (growth) company. How can you dream of world domination - and let’s face it, that’s what growth company leaders dream about ;) - if you don’t know your audience. Yes, market research and customer feedback are important, but never underestimate the value of having those different voices, opinions, and views of the world under the same company roof.
And do note that we are not saying that giving flowers is a bad idea - it’s never a bad idea to give flowers to anyone, female or male. Research shows that having flowers in the area where you work, actually can benefit your brain and give your mood a booster! But when you give flowers on Women’s Day, make sure that’s not your only effort for equality.
PS. This was a very cis/men vs. women polarized post ignoring everything else in the spectrum - but as this was about International Women’s Day, this time we will leave it to this.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Flowhaven.