Blog Post #5:

International Women’s Day at Joos

On International Women’s Day, we spoke to some of our team and got their perspective on what it’s like to be a woman in the startup world

Here at Joos we employ a predominantly male based team, and being a tech start-up, this is an all too familiar narrative we come across in our sector. As an organisation, we understand the pivotal role that women in our company play and will continue to support their drive for equal opportunities across work and in society.

We asked some of our team to share their insights on what it is like to be a woman working in a growing tech start-up, and any pointers for the challenges faced in the wider industry.

Jemima Bird, Chief Marketing Officer

For me the question is not ‘do we feel our voices are heard well?’ and more, ‘ensure our voice is heard well’ – it makes financial sense to balance start-up teams and have a gender balance that weights towards women; a 2018 Boston Consulting Group report highlighted that women-founded start-ups generate 78% for every dollar invested, compared to 31% from their male counterparts. So why do we start with ‘do we feel?’ We start here because we are predisposed to believe we won’t be listened to, we won’t be heard, and that our voices are smaller and less relevant.  Despite the hard-nosed financial evidence pointing to the fact, women in business improve teams, improve decision making and improve the bottom line.

It is therefore imperative to flip the imposter syndrome and start with ensuring our voices are heard. This takes courage.

It requires women to call out when behaviours in business are overshadowing their contribution. If as a woman you make a contribution and it is ignored, ask why. And if the answer isn’t good enough, ask why again. And keep asking why until you get an answer you deserve and are entitled to. Simon Sinek has a great quote where he says, “loving your job is a right, not a privilege.” You can only love your job if you are in an environment where your voice is heard.

Nic Reeves, Graphic Designer

The nature of my role as a Graphic Designer invites a lot of opinions, and in a male dominated environment, these opinions can be very loud. As a woman, I often have to shout a bit louder to be listened to and taken seriously. I take extra steps just to prove I am right and that my opinion is just as important as my male colleagues. Working in this environment has forced me to become more confident in my decisions and ideas, which has helped me grow both as a designer and an individual.

As in any tech start-up, working at Joos is extremely fast paced. The best thing for me about being a woman at Joos is that your gender plays no role in the expectations of you to keep up with this that pace. The encouragement that I receive, which allows me to grow to become my best, is equal to that that our male colleagues receive. When it comes to working hard, there is no special treatment because I’m a woman, which is why I love working at Joos. 

Lucia Molnarova, Senior Relationship Manager

As a Relationship Manager I often visit our venues and oversee the maintenance, delivery and installation of our products. Our network consists of a lot of different types of venues and sometimes you receive mixed reactions as a female worker whilst being out in the field. At times, it has taken a lot of continuous effort to establish myself as a representative of the company.

This was seen when I first joined the company by friends and family, who questioned my decision to want to enter the risky and unpredictable world of start-ups, rather than joining an established company. Coming from a female-dominated environment at my previous job, in luxury retail, it can be alienating at first to adjust to a male-dominated space, where you are expected to keep up with the pace regardless of gender.

However, I find that being a woman in a male-dominated workplace can be both challenging and rewarding. I like how we are expected to push past our limits in the same way as our male colleagues would be, and not settle for the easy tasks. Even though women are a minority in our start-up, we have been involved in almost every area of the business, from marketing to quality control, operations to maintenance, even business development. It is quite inspiring to see the growing female representation and impact at Joos.

Saffron Seddon, Relationship Manager & Sustainability Officer

It is a daunting thought stepping into an office of mostly men, and this is something which should not be sugar-coated. However, at Joos, personality and individual drive have proven to be the real forces that forge our success in this environment, rather than gender.

As a Relationship Manager and our Sustainability Officer, my role incorporates a wide range of tasks, including deliveries, physical hands-on work such as helping on import days, through to presenting our sustainability agenda to a room full of men. It sometimes feels like the spotlight is on you, however, I sometimes feel the complete opposite and that I must work a little harder to ensure that my voice is heard. Women are not limited to typical stereotypes or belittling roles, we all have a similar platform to announce innovative points and to thrive in the limelight, in the same way that men would.  

Working in such a fast-paced environment, with likeminded confident creatives, forces us to speak with a little more fire, passion and clarity. As in any start-up, the primary goal is growth and I have certainly felt that as the company has been grown, our voices and roles as women have been grown with it and this is something that has been encouraged from the very beginning. 

Miriam Kyeza, Marketing Associate

My role has changed overtime at Joos meaning I’ve had the opportunity to experience different areas of the business. Not once have I felt like I wasn’t well heard. One of the best parts of working in a fast-paced, growing environment is that I feel empowered to do well in my role. In addition to being a female, I also represent a minority group; as a black woman this sometimes means amplifying my voice, giving different perspectives and understanding different perceptions.

During my time at the company, I have been pushed to leave my comfort zone, but feel I have never had to change as a person to be heard. I consistently feel reminded that my ideas are always welcomed.

One thing about a start-up environment, is that you’re never sure what to expect but I have come to realise it’s a massive learning experience. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and we’re able to combine different skills and abilities to create an amazing brand, whilst ensuring that everyone’s ideas are used. We live in a society where people are more opened minded and because of that, being a part of Joos has highlighted different genders aren’t suited to certain roles.

On IWD I say, be exactly who you were born to be, a strong woman with a strong voice. And if the start-up environment can’t cope with that voice, and it makes you frustrated & unhappy, ask yourself, why are you even working there? – Jemima Bird, CMO

12 January 2020