VIEW: How to find, support, and empower female led brands to tackle gender equality

Around the world, gender parity at the leadership level is lacking. In some areas and corners of the globe, it’s improving, but the general consensus is we’re still far from reaching balance on our boards and leadership team.

Some reports say this could take 100 years to achieve.

In the US, 50.2% of the college-educated labour force is made up of women, yet women still only hold 25% of leadership roles. In the UK, women only hold one in three board positions in the UK’s top public companies, and a mere 15% of FTSE 100 finance directors are women. And in Australia, the rate of which women are appointed to boards has plummeted from 45% to 31.7% between 2018-2019.

Femeconomy, founded by Jade Collins and Alanna Bastin-Byrne, is on a mission to keep businesses, boards, and consumers both informed and accountable. Jade and Alanna shared their views on Femeconomy’s role in addressing the gender parity and equality issue, as well as their observations on how this has become such a significant global challenge.

  • Why does Femeconomy exists? What problem does it aim to solve?

Femeconomy is a national membership organisation that educates consumers, business owners and budget owners on how their purchasing decisions can create gender equality.

Femeconomy identifies and amplifies companies that have at least 30% women on the Board of Directors or are 50% female owned. We encourage people to use their purse power or procurement power to support these companies.

Companies with female leaders are more likely to have workplace flexibility and less likely to have a gender pay gap, so they are helping to create gender equality for their employees and communities.

  • What is your vision for Femeconomy over the next 3-5 years?

2019’s Women for Media report states women represent 18% of sources in business reporting. Femeconomy’s female leader interviews with our community are a way to remedy this imbalance for the women achieving outstanding results in business.

Recently Femeconomy was recognised by the State Library of Queensland as being a subject of social, political, cultural, artistic, religious, scientific or economic significance and relevant to Queensland. As a result, Femecononomy’s website has been added to the Australian National Web Archive. This means Femeconomy’s website content will be able to be accessed by the public globally in perpetuity. 

For those women who have shared their leadership wisdom with Femeconomy via our Female Leader Interviews, we are so immensely proud that their voices, and thought leadership, will be captured and preserved forever. 

We want to continue sharing the stories and amplifying the voices of women leaders who are the gender equality trailblazers of our generation. We believe if you see it, you can be it.

We also want to continue our advocacy around using economic levers like consumer purchasing power, and procurement power to drive the growth of women led businesses. All organisations, including corporates, governments, not-for-profits and small businesses can implement gender equality procurement principles in their supply chain and create more sustainable, profitable organisations.

  • Why are female-driven businesses often overlooked, undervalued, or misunderstood? 

It’s a mixture of our legacy social and workplace structures, including the male breadwinner model, and unconscious bias. As a community, we have progressed, but gender equality and social change take a long time. It was only in 1983 that an Australian woman’s passport application no longer had to be approved by her husband!

In Australia, we know that our organisations are still overwhelmingly led by men, and much business is done via relationships and networks. 

34.8% of Australian business owner managers are female. Yet women owned businesses access less than 2% of the global procurement market, a significant economic disadvantage to women.

To help address this disparity, Femeconomy recently partnered with The 30% Club and leading Australian Board Directors to develop a Gender Equality Procurement Toolkit, to support organisations to implement procurement strategies that create gender equality across their supply chains, and foster ethical supply practices.

Femeconomy also developed an example Gender Equality Procurement Policy that is targeted towards Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and encourages women led businesses to adopt these principles themselves, and trade with each other.

  • What can both women and men do to better support gender diverse businesses? 

As consumers, identify and purchase from brands with women leaders. Most people have a top 10 brands they habitually shop with – think groceries, insurance, banking, clothing, gifts, cosmetics, toiletries, electronics. Using Femeconomy’s approved brand directory, check your favourite brands are Femeconomy approved, and if they aren’t, switch to like brands that are.

Within businesses, ensure you procure goods and services from women led businesses.

This will create gender equality across industries, and more profitable and sustainable businesses. It’s a win-win.

  • What is the most commonly misunderstood aspect of gender diversity in the workplace? How do we overcome this? 

Intersectionality is the topic that most often gets raised with us. That is where another trait such a woman’s age, marital status, parental status, childfree status, cultural background, skin colour, linguistic differences, disability, or sexuality for example combine to mean that there is a ‘double whammy’ of disadvantage and stereotyping faced by that person, because of our unconscious bias.

People may claim that they treat everyone the same, or see everyone the same, but research has proven again and again that this just isn’t true.

The way to overcome it is to identify and examine our own inherent biases, and start to question them. Many of our stereotypical beliefs about gender have been culturally normed and formed, and reinforced by the people who surrounded us as we grew up, and our life experience.

Challenging ourselves to be inclusive, and seeking to understand each other is the way forward.

About Femeconomy

Choose female led brands. Create gender equality.

Femeconomy approved brands have at least 30% women on the Board of Directors or are 50% female owned. So far over 850 consumer and business brands meet our criteria.

Further information is on Femeconomy or view Jade and Alanna’s TEDxTalk.