Let’s start with a question – if you had the choice, would you choose to challenge inequality?
To provide context to this question, today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. This theme invites us to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality, to celebrate women’s achievements and collectively create an inclusive world.
The importance of today for the startup ecosystem can’t be stressed enough when you read facts like these:
- Advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025.
- The Australian economy could grow by about $25 billion if women were supported into the workforce and empowered to achieve their full economic potential.
- For every dollar of funding, startups founded and co-founded by females generated 78 cents, while startups with male founders generated less than half that — just 31 cents.
- Female-led startups, or those with at least one female founder, receive a disproportionately small percentage of global venture capital. Only 11% of seed funding capital in emerging markets goes to companies with a woman on their founding team, and the figures are even lower for late-stage funding.
In the last year, these facts have taken on a new meaning. The Covid-19 pandemic thrust the world into a spin and as we’ve looked to rebuild our economies, issues like the systemic gender imbalance in our startup community transformed from being at the bottom of the need-to-fix-it-but-not-a-priority list to representing a potential roadmap to recovery.
So, let’s rephrase the question if you had the choice, would you choose to challenge a world to redesign an economy that is guaranteed greater success?
In an article published by Women’s Agenda, Dr Jessica Gallagher and Josepha Dietrich explain that when looking to rebuild a post-covid world we must harness the full potential of our talent pool, foster innovation and entrepreneurship to create jobs. A key factor in achieving this lies in addressing the gender imbalance in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and expanding our number of female founders and leaders. In recent times Australia has introduced some incredible initiatives to tackle this issue, such as the Fellowship Program, Advance Queensland’s Female Founders program, and the Boosting Female Founders Initiative. However, there’s still more work to do.
The Remarkable team has always chosen to challenge inequality. Through an ethos of inclusion and the support of technological innovation, we have facilitated the removal of barriers for people with disability. During our five year journey, we have welcomed many fierce female entrepreneurs, mentors, coaches and friends into our community. Each of these women has chosen to challenge the gender imbalance in the startup sector. Through their endeavors they also challenge the world to understand the importance of creating technology that removes barriers for the one billion people, worldwide, living with disability.
“International Women’s Day unites women from every corner of the world and together we celebrate our achievements and we stand by each other as we navigate through the uncertainties. We’ve learnt that history is a teacher and not a dictator, therefore we choose to fight for our voices to be heard and our talents to be recognised and valued. But this is not merely enough. What if intersectionality is added to the equation? What if you are a woman with a disability?
As a woman with a disability working in the startup space, I fight for my voice to be heard every day and I work twice as hard just to prove my ability. But it is also precisely these challenges that connect me with the women around the world who are working towards a common vision. The stories we share about ourselves with each other become the driving force for innovation and positive social change.”
In addition, Erika Gleeson, Founder and CEO of Autism Swim, recently named a NSW Woman of the Year Finalist, stated
“There’s no doubt that the road [as a female founder] has been a hard and lonely one; definitely the hardest undertaking of my life – however undoubtedly the most rewarding. To me, that initial struggle was somewhat addictive and I used it as fuel to want bigger and better for those whose lives I knew we were changing and going to change.
Inclusion has always been one of my fundamental beliefs and values, so staying aligned with our ‘why has been the easy part. I live and breathe my passion every day, and that makes me feel incredibly lucky. It’s no surprise that the world has a very long way to go in the inclusion space, and tech is serving to be the most incredible vehicle for the traction that is taking place. I’m mighty proud to be playing a small part.”
In this journey toward a more egalitarian future, Remarkable understands that if our quest for inclusion is to be authentic, we have to acknowledge our own flaws and hold ourselves accountable to this commitment. In layman’s terms, we accept that we’re not perfect but are committed to always striving to be better. As part of this commitment, we endeavor to amplify the often underrepresented voices, including both people with disability and women, to help fight for their full participation in the startup sector.
Pete Horsley, Remarkable Founder said,
“Our world has been tilted for too long to the benefit of men, and as a society, we’re worse off because of it. Today, we acknowledge the gender parity that needs to be corrected in our society and we celebrate the incredible female founders, our female mentors, advisors and team – you make a remarkable impact and we are all better because of it.”
For this International Women’s Day we’re inviting you to celebrate the tenacity and hard work of the incredible females in our community and to acknowledge the work still needed to be done to help secure equality.
So, this is no longer a question but rather an invitation – to challenge the world to rebuild with inclusive and equal foundations.