Jade Collins and Alanna Bastin-Byrne are Co-Founders of Femeconomy.com and sisters-in-law .They want you to shop brands with female leaders to create gender equality. Collectively, women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions. In Australia alone during 2015-16 this equated to $198.9 billion. Let’s use this economic lever to advance gender equality at a faster rate. It’s called The Femeconomy Effect.
Jade has over 19 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience invaluable for creating networks and engaging others to increase gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade is a member of the Queensland Government’s Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative.
Alanna has over 16 years’ experience in Marketing, Communications and Community Development leadership in the UK and Australia. Alanna’s experience spans a wide range of industries including Health, Arts, Events, Education, Social Housing and Tourism. The diversity of Alanna’s leadership experience has been instrumental in building Femeconomy’s engaged community to advance gender equality.
So what is Femeconomy?
At Femeconomy we want women to shop brands with female leaders to create gender equality. The criteria to be a Femeconomy approved brand is to have at least 30% of women on the Board of Directors or be 50% female owned. So far, over 700 brands meet our criteria out of 2000 brands on the site.
The site started as a business to consumer site at the end of September 2016. In February, we launched business to business due to demand from our customers. Women want to support other women.
Our first target is to help the Australian Institute of Company Directors reach its goal of 30% of women on boards by 2018.
What was the catalyst for Femeconomy?
Jade read that women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions in a taxi during a work trip to Melbourne. “I knew so many other statistics about gender equality and diversity, but this was the first time I’d encountered that one. I immediately saw potential to use womens’ tremendous purchasing power as a force to accelerate gender equality,” she said
If women only knew which brands supported women, they could choose to purchase from those companies. Consumer activism but for the purpose of gender equality, and to complement existing top down strategies. If we can do it for caged eggs surely, we can do it to advance gender equality.
What has made you so passionate about supporting females on boards and in business?
For Jade, working in male dominated industries for her entire career, and seeing the difference that having female leaders made to improving organisational performance and culture. “I truly believe that culture is lead from the top. I’ve also seen first-hand the barriers women in leadership face. We need to challenge and change unconscious bias in our organisations. We know companies with gender diverse leaders are more profitable (so there’s the business case right there), but also, they have better cultures. This comes up in research on engagement and performance.”
Alanna had predominantly worked for gender balanced leadership teams and thought it was important to help redress the balance in other industries.
If women are seated at the top tier of the organization, we firmly believe this will help to address the gender pay and superannuation gap, promote flexible work availability for women and men, lead to better distribution of caring and household responsibilities. It will also normalize the role of women as leaders of industry.
More profitable companies means more opportunity for everyone, women and men. It also means more company taxes are paid, benefiting the country and community as a whole.
Closing the gender pay gap and gender superannuation gap positively impacts overall household income and retirement savings. This translates to less welfare dependence and increased wellbeing for retirees. More flexible working arrangements benefit everyone.
“Closing the gender pay gap and gender superannuation gap positively impacts overall household income and retirement savings.”
So what’s next?
Growth. Go global. Once we have established our brand in Australia, we would like to expand to the USA and UK. We already have website visitors from these countries, and we have many international brands on Femeconomy already.
You now have your business, engaging with businesses and consumers, and now moving to corporations engaging with other businesses, what was your biggest challenge to get this far?
The challenge is always time and making sure your time is high yield. In a corporate environment, the pace is slower and there is more support. It’s great working together as sisters-in-law, because we have very robust discussions, we aren’t sentimental about holding onto pet ideas if they don’t work, and we laugh all the time!
Who was your biggest support?
Each other initially, but now the most satisfying part of our journey is meeting incredible supporters on a daily basis. They’ve shared their time, honest advice and referred us to their network. We can’t fit them all on a page (or even 3). We draw immense inspiration and motivation from all of the wonderful, accomplished and high achieving female leaders we have met. It has been an honour to interview some of them. Each one propels us to try even harder.
What advice would you give to other women facing major life events or choices?
Take care of and be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to think about what you really want, before you make any major decisions. Tune into your own self talk and make sure you are being a good advisor to yourself! Surround yourself with people who clap when you succeed, who will stand up for you when you aren’t in the room, and who tell you when you have food stuck in your teeth.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Care less about what other people think of you. Done is fine, it doesn’t have to be perfect, perfection is overrated. Nerds will inherit the future.