4 reasons to hire women in your startup

Andy Roberts
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I don’t understand the whole “women in tech” drama (and for good reasons); Here’s why

When we started Maxuri.com, it was always going to be a balance. I’m the somewhat disorganised, sales-y, tech-y, irreverent Aussie guy. Sometimes I do finger guns or high fives when someone brings me in a sale or a great accomplishment. Yeah, you’ve probably profiled me already. I bet you it’s not pretty.

Luckily, I have a great co-founder who helps moderate some of my less salient attributes, as well as driving the business forward with her own amazing set of skills.  So do the other members of our team, male and female.

Sophie Gorecki, Maxuri.com’s co-founder, has grown from a fashion and luxury specialist to someone who can now throw around acronyms like a tech ninja. She can silence a roomful of rowdy tech guys in an impromptu, unscripted presentation at a conference, and continually brings insights to the business that move us onwards.

Not just that, but the balance it gives our business having two operational co-founders of different sexes is invaluable. Our business is fairly evenly split along male/female lines, and there is absolutely no difference in pay packets between male and female. This is an inalterable rule of our business.

This is why I also don’t understand the whole “women in tech” drama. Let me be clear.

Also Read: Most Indians still see young women as unfit for leadership positions – BigStylist CEO Richa Singh

Anyone who has reservations about hiring a qualified woman in the same role as a qualified guy for the same pay is a wanker. Period. Let me explain to you why.

Competency

When I read some of the responses to “women in tech” articles, I’m struck by the triteness of the reasoning. You get bombarded with a lot of blergh like “they always remember people’s birthdays,” or “there’s always balloons around for public holidays.” You can take that patronising crap and shove it.

The number one reason for hiring someone in the office isn’t because they are going to voluntarily sort out your office social club, or bring in cake once per week. The core reason you employ someone is for their competency in one or more crucial skills.

In my career, I have seen nothing to ever indicate males have anything over females when it comes to competency. I have worked under some amazing female leaders and champions of people, who are even more amazing due to the glass ceilings they’ve probably had to shatter on the way.

Rolling up the sleeves

Working in a startup is bloody hard. The hours are long, and generally people need to wear three or four “hats” at a time. You need to hire people who are happy to get dirty with all manner of tasks.

Startups are the ultimate meritocracy.

This is my completely subjective opinion, but in Indonesia and Singapore it is the women who have impressed me most with outstanding work ethics, willingness to take on challenges and a clear focus on execution. Rather than just sitting back, chillaxing and ordering minions to complete tasks, women generally attack tasks head on and follow them through to the end.

Avoid turning the office into “Bro-town”

I’ve met with a ton of VCs over my time in tech, and the majority of them are run by solid, capable people. However, I’ve also met my share that are completely male-dominated, rife with Steve Jobs turtlenecks, tech-speak (we’ll come to that later) and a bro-culture saturated with testosterone, stripper-and-whisky events and a level of arrogance that beggars belief.

Also Read: I am guilty of writing sexist ‘women in tech’ headlines

These offices could probably do with a few extra women in senior management positions who are more keen to drive value than the latest sports car.

Cut out “tech speak”

Those who know me understand that I have a distinct dislike for “corporate or tech speak”. If an agency rocks up and proceeds to tell me they are “a holistic and dynamic evangelist for cross-pollinating defined verticals and synergies,” there’s a good chance they’ll be shown the door before they finish their coffee.

In my experience, women tend to cut to the core of an issue much quicker than guys, and with less verbal gymnastics.

I’ve had an immensely lucky life when it comes to female role models. I was born to a wonderful woman; am brother to another; my partner is an amazingly understanding saint (dating a start-up CEO is never an easy thing); I have a number of amazing female friends and my team at Maxuri, male and female alike, are a great bunch to work with.

To be honest, I was a little reluctant to write this article. I was – and still am – afraid that it might come off as patronising or mansplaining. (Unsure of the term? Check it out here).

I don’t feel that women in tech need me to stick my (impressively) furry face into their struggles, or that my opinion should be taken as having any more weight than anyone else’s. It’s simply another voice to add to the conversation. If there’s one thing that the Uber issue has shown, it’s that this is a conversation that needs to permeate many levels of the tech industry worldwide.

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