How did an idea born in a Melbourne taxi become a full-time career for Jade Collins, the co-founder of Femeconomy? Keep reading.
Where did Femeconomy.com come from?
I have spent my entire 18 year career working in male dominated industries of electricity generation, aerospace, mining and management consulting. In these environments, it often felt like an ‘uphill battle,’ promoting gender equality as the internal human resources business partner. I was well read and informed on the business case, progress and all the relevant statistics. It’s well researched that companies with gender diverse leadership are more profitable. However, I was frustrated at the slow rate of change, resistance and blatant disinterest in selecting or promoting women into senior leadership roles.
When I read in an online article that women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions, I was intrigued. I had not encountered this information before, and I wondered why? Why weren’t women using this incredible economic lever to further gender equality? Surely someone in the world was?
Femeconomy.com was born in a Melbourne taxi
The idea for Femeconomy was born in a Melbourne taxi. I read more and found that it was a relatively well understood statistic in marketing to women, but wasn’t in use as a basis for consumer activism to create gender equality. My spare time passion became pursuing the idea of identifying which brands and companies had women leaders, so I could inform and encourage people to push their consumer spend towards those companies.
I knew I needed to work on this as a business, because the research was consuming all of my evenings and weekends. It was a project I felt compelled to work on. My sister-in-law Alanna was my first and only choice as a prospective business partner. She has an international marketing skill-set, perfect for such a venture, and is someone I trust implicitly. After a few conversations around how we would make it work as family working together, she was in!
I quit my job to become a tech entrepreneur
Against much well meant advice from worried family members, and after a few short weeks obsessing over Femeconomy, I decided to quit my well-paid job to work full time as an unpaid entrepreneur. I have frequently changed geographies (14 moves in 11 years), companies and roles, because I yearn for continuous learning and change, but this was a radical and risky step to take. Nothing in my career has ever felt more right.
What’s my why?
It’s personal. I have a daughter. I want a better world for her. I want her to experience gender equality. I want it for all of my nieces and my friend’s daughters and your daughters too. I do not want them to grow up in a world where they are valued less, paid less, retire with less and face ongoing and systematic harassment, discrimination and violence against women: our current reality.
I also want this for my nephew, and for your sons. Equality will bring greater flexibility, profitability, lower male suicide rates, and a better quality of life when we see all roles in life as non-gendered.
Where did we start?
Our business plan was hammered out over a two day strategy session in early March. We launched Femeconomy.com at the end of September 2016, with over 2000 brands, more than 700 of which meet our criteria of 30% female board of directors or 50% female owned. We want women to shop for brands that have female leaders to create gender equality. We call this the Femeconomy Effect.
We think Femeconomy.com is a game changer that adds a powerful consumer activism platform to the existing range of gender equality solutions. We want to accelerate achieving gender equality before 2186, and we think more female leaders across all industries will be the catalyst.
I’m pleased to report that we have hit all of our business plan milestones and more. If we hit a roadblock or make a mistake, we learn, reflect and quickly redirect. Agility is the benefit of being in charge of our own destiny.
We have also been approached to partner and collaborate with inspiring organisations like Diverse City Careers, Tech Girls Movement and Thrive, who are all working on innovative gender equality solutions. The calibre of people we have met and been introduced to on this journey has astonished us. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, board members, and thought leaders in their field who have generously shared their advice.
Only 8 weeks after our website ‘soft launch’, our network grows daily, and we are receiving invitations to speak at events in 2017.
We look forward to profiling more inspirational female leaders at Femeconomy.com in the coming months, and sharing their stories. I am convinced that as each one of us takes action towards gender equality, it is within our grasp.
What action will you take in 2017 to create gender equality?