Why more successful start-ups are led by women

successful start upIn working with successful career women, we often work with entrepreneurs. In fact, in some of the recent executive leadership coaching workshops I have conducted; almost half the attendees were entrepreneurs, an inconceivable ratio even 10 years ago. We see women’s entrepreneurship as a direct response to feeling overlooked and frustrated in the corporate sector. The problem for their former employers is that when middle and senior management women leave, they take hard-earned knowledge, contacts and ambition with them. Now research shows that when they do go, their new businesses are the real winners.

In fact, a survey late last year by Dow Jones VentureSource, on female executives in start ups found new companies have a better chance of going public, operating profitably or being sold for a net gain if they have women founders or board members. After analysing more than 15 years of venture-backed company data in the United States, the survey discovered the overall median proportion of female executives is 7.1% at successful companies and 3.1% at unsuccessful companies. Also, for start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed. This clearly demonstrates the value having more females can potentially bring to a management team.

In an article on Modern start-ups are suited to women, Luke Johnson wrote in the Financial Times, “Diversity in general makes organisations more resilient. Many businesses fall apart thanks to testosterone-fuelled disputes and founders overreaching thanks to rushes of hubris that tend to afflict men more often. Women are well-placed to curb such excess, and keep a project on course with more thoughtful management policies.”

Apart from the benefits they bring start-ups, women also gain from running the show. In other research, women cite flexibility as one of the key reasons they set up on their own. Women can also be more risk-averse than their male counterparts and less willing to sacrifice family life for the business. Neither of these traits are a negative: over-ambition and burnout are prime causes of bankruptcy and commercial failure.

At Female Breadwinners, we wholeheartedly applaud and are proud to be part of this new shift. Diversity of leadership styles brings better overall management and sustainable growth to start-ups, which is great news for both men and women.

No Money for Pay Rises? Increase Engagement without Increasing Wages

Our sister company, The InclusIQ Institute, wanted to share their popular article with us. We see successful leaders who keep employees happy by giving them regular raises and promotions. However, as monetary reward is only a small part of why people work, we are impressed by leaders who are able to motivate teams even during the lean periods – when raises are impossible to give.

Here are the factors they focus on:

  1. Consistent Values: We can’t visit the lobby of a corporate client without seeing a banner proudly proclaiming their values. However, in sessions, the employees confide core values are abandoned during tough times. Leadership values seemed to apply in good times, but dwindle or even disappear during times of stress. Employees put in more if company values are followed at all times – even if it calls for tough decisions.
  2. Long Term Focus: Ace teams see the tough periods; belt-tightening and cash flow issues as a temporary problem. Their leaders maintain focus on long-term objectives. Employees don’t mind going through difficult times when they believe there is a brighter future ahead.
  3. Continuous Communication: As a Forbes article on ‘Seven Ways To Increase Employee Satisfaction Without Giving A Raise‘ comments: “People tend to communicate less during bad times, when in actuality, they need to communicate even more.” During tough times, good teams increase communication and share important information. Apart from any good news, it is also important to share the reality of the current situation with team members. No one likes being condescended to; they can handle the truth.
  4. Opportunities for Development: Successful teams use slower times to learn new skills and build new capabilities. Leaders should not cut training and development as encouraging employees to take up stretch roles boosts employee satisfaction and inspire loyalty.

Good leaders know that if you can’t walk your talk – why should anyone else? How have you seen strong teams cope well during a down period?

10 Worst Apps Aimed at Women

10 Worst apps aimed at womenIsabelle Kerr, an undergraduate at Bristol, rooted out the most patronising apps that are currently or were on the market for a female audience. According to the worldview of these 10 terrible apps, women are jealous, manipulative, possessive, insecure and vain. Don’t developers know women make more than half of all technology purchases? Demonising half your potential audience is never good business sense.

The worst range from those that allow you to secretly track your boyfriend’s movements to those that slim down every selfie you post. In her article in the Telegraph on 10 Worst Apps Aimed At Women, Kerr talks about apps with a warped perspective on relationships. ‘Boyfriend Trainer’ lets you physically abuse your virtual boyfriend and ‘Sugar Sugar’ helps ‘beautiful women’ find a wealthy date. ‘Period Tracker’ and ‘Contraction Calculator’ sound as if they could potentially be useful but are poorly executed with developers creating creepy ‘tampon-catching’ games whereby you dodge blood droplets falling from the sky. ‘Yuck’ is the only appropriate response there.

Those that capitalise on women’s supposed superficiality include ‘Zips’ which asks ‘all the single ladies’ to virtually unzip the jeans of an animated man. ‘Drinking Mirror’ morphs your photograph to reveal how you will age based on the amount of alcohol you consume. It increasingly bloats, reddens and wrinkles your face as you ‘party away the night’.

These apps fall flat on entertainment and patronise both men and women. We at Female Breadwinners believe technology can be inherently gender-neutral. These apps are a pretty dismal reflection of the negative way society, and many games developers in particular, view women.

Why Jennifer Lawrence naked shots tell us we need more women in tech

Women codersUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be hard pressed to not know that pictures of dozens of female celebrities have been leaked in the last week by a hacker accessing personal photographs stored on Apple’s iCloud. This has given rise to well-covered questions about the security of cloud technology. For us, this debacle also illustrates the sexist and threatening nature of these hacks and even the dearth of women coders.

As Hadley Freeman points out in The Guardian in her article: ‘The Naked Celebrity Hack: An Outstanding Example of Sexism’: ‘Anyway, the point of these pictures isn’t to give anyone sexual pleasure. Many of these actresses in the latest leak have posed next-to-naked in their various films and magazine shoots already so it’s not exactly like the hackers are revealing much more than is already known. It’s purely a power thing, like when tabloids publish pap photos of celebrities unawares….The only time naked photos of men get leaked onto the internet is when they ham-fistedly leak them themselves….,and the general response is laughter and mockery. With women, that leaking happens when others steal the images from their phones, and the response here is darker, sexual, triumphal. Neither response is good, but the one in regards to women is definitely more threatening. There is no difference between the leaking of stolen naked photos from a female celebrity’s phone and so-called “revenge porn”, when a man leaks photos of an ex-partner. It’s a means of exuding power over someone who thought they were, if not powerful, at least independent’.

Furthermore, the fact that the shots are all of female celebrities suggest the audience, and the perpetrators, are male. As long as heterosexual men are the predominate force in technology, IT products, services, and even security leaks will be focused on what men want to see – in this case, naked photos of female celebrities.

While we do not believe that equality will be gained when we have equal numbers of stolen shots of Ryan Gosling to Jennifer Lawrence, a point raised humorously, but rather coarsely by two female coders in this video (probably not safe for viewing at work), it does make you wonder what ingenuity we are missing if we continue to have our products … and even the destruction of those products, led by men.

Run, don’t walk, if you work with a ‘Subclinical Psychopath’

Angry bossWe want to share one of the most popular blogs from our sister company, InclusIQ Institute, with you. If you’re ready to develop inclusive leadership in your organisation, you’ll benefit from our monthly bulletin InclusIQ Illustrated.

We routinely work with clients who ask how to manage manipulative bosses or colleagues. There are often ways to get people onside, but depending on the evidence they have, the truth is that if you are working with a psychopath, they are unlikely to change.

At a distance, these people can be fascinating to observe – which is why they are often portrayed in films and books. Think Gordon Gekko of Wall Street or ‘Talented Mr. Ripley’. However, to avoid them scuppering your career, it’s best to leave the situation as quickly as you can. Things won’t get better and you’ll have difficulty progressing. In fact, the higher you go, the more likely you are to find them! A study by Babiak in 2010 entitled ‘Corporate psychopathy: talking the walk’ published in Behavioural Science and Law showed senior American executives are four times more likely than the general US population (4% vs 1%) to be classified as subclinical psychopaths. So how can you tell if your boss is just tough or if you work with a subclinical psychopath? Do you see several of the following traits:

  1. Superficial charm
  2. Grandiosity
  3. Repeated lying
  4. Manipulation
  5. Lack of remorse
  6. Superficial emotions
  7. Lack of empathy
  8. Failure to accept responsibility
There is even a gendered slant to some of their favoured tactics. Oliver James’ wrote in his latest book ‘Office Politics’ that male psychopaths sometimes make sexual jokes or put-down female colleagues out of fear of being exposed. If they feel threatened, ‘stripped bare’ or powerless by the presence of a strong woman, they are likely to attack. James, originally a psychologist by trade, explained: ’most often they have no idea of their unconscious motivations for stripping the person and will make a joke of it and accuse her of ‘not being able to take a joke’.
Essentially, psychopaths are projecting the powerlessness they feel. One of the key signs you have been with a psychopath is the unaccountable discomfort, dissatisfaction or depression they leave with you afterwards. The work place is a setting where jokes should be welcome, but if they are mostly degrading to others; watch out  you may be working with a subclinical psychopath. You are best off leaving the situation as James explained:
‘psychopaths do it more often and are more likely to be compelled to commit the emotional rape of forcing their unwanted emotions onto others rather than look at the source of their anger.’
If a psychopath stands between you and your next promotion, look to move before they can undermine your chances …and your confidence.

Busy but bold women unite…Online

savvy woman on internetThe Internet is changing the way women talk about their experiences and increasingly their rights. While IT has historically been thought of as a male sphere, it is increasingly being used as a way for women to advocate and share ideas. As most women now hold down jobs outside the home, we increasingly use the social media and video clips to keep up with the zeitgeist; and this shift has not gone unnoticed. The recent Guardian article: 8 Ways digital is empowering women, highlights how social media, videos and online campaigns are putting women’s rights on the public forum.

The Representation Project and other advocacy groups use social media hashtags such as #notbuyingit, #changetheratio, #banbossy and #Mediawelike in their campaign to challenge gender stereotypes. Business woman and savvy communicator, Oprah Winfrey sent a tweet to her 21 million followers which generated massive support for The Girl Effect. ‘We are enough. We matter. We are NOT invisible. Girls around the world are having their say. This is the moment to listen. #GirlDeclaration’. Amazingly this simple tweet virally generated a massive following.

Video campaigns such as Jackson Katz’s YouTube video ‘Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue’  are clearly powerful. The message focused on the role boys and men have in ending gender based violence. Considering it features no dancing cats or naked celebrities, the clip has been phenomenally successful with over 1,216,000 views.

Online platforms and petitions such as Pinkstinks, Daughters of Eve, and No More Page Three tackle issues ranging from gender media stereotyping, female genital mutilation and glamour modelling. Clearly if you have an issue worth highlighting; online is increasingly the way to go for savvy women.

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