Behind every successful man, is a great woman. Quote sound familiar? Recently the topic has been floating around our office, and it certainly got me thinking. If behind every successful man there is an equally successful woman, then shouldn’t this same fact ring true for every startup? The question certainly raised a few eyebrows here at the office, and I quickly turned into the butt of many feminist jokes, but I have to say that I have made up my mind on this one. A few months ago, imonomy added a female to its all-male employee roster. The new addition certainly livened up the dynamic in the office, and the change had me wondering if our boys club was so desperately in need of a good dose of estrogen? After 4 months of working side-by-side with my female co-worker, the proof was definitely in the pudding, every startup needs a professional woman.
Before I get knee-deep into it, here’s a bit about myself, my perspective, and why I’m a credible source. While I find that the color pink works well with my skin tone, and I still get a bit emotional every time I watch Luke Skywalker find out that Darth Vader is his father, I am very much, 100% man. I grew up with a younger sister, and a wonderful mother, so I know that women have this unique way of being magnificent and terrifying all at the same time. I have worked for many different companies together with men and women over the years, but only recently have I noticed how important the female perspective can be when it comes to business. Working for a startup means being part of the workforce on a much smaller scale. Every aspect of startup life is very pure, and fresh. Ultimately, the working dynamic and nature of a startup company is very different than its corporate counterpart.
Adding flavor to the mix can do a lot of good for any company, but can be especially useful for a small company that is just starting out. Having too many like-minded heads in one office may seem like an easy way to do business, but the lack of diversity can quickly lead to a groupthink type of situation. You know that old saying “thinking outside of the box”? Well, sometimes being surrounding by a group of dominant workers with similar points of view makes it hard for just anyone to step up and speak out. By adding a woman to a team of men, the slippery slope of similar thinking can easily be avoided. Now I’m not saying that the male opinion isn’t important. Let’s not forget, I am a man, and I would like to think that my thoughts are worth a fair few. However, sometimes hearing the yin to my yang makes me see things differently. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in our train of thoughts, and it’s even easier to keep rolling down the same river of ramblings when you have other buddies to back you up. Sometimes being hit with a curve ball is the best possible medicine. I think in my time working with women, I have come to one very important conclusion. Men can try to understand women as a whole, and in business, men often try and sometimes succeed in catering to their female clientele. I, however, would stand to reason that only a woman has the innate power to truly understand what women need, while understanding what men want and finding a unique way to couple the two together.
When it comes to strategic planning, women have got it in the bank. In my years spent in the workforce, I have come across many women with superpowers in organizational execution. That extra minute women take to draw up an outline, proofread a document, or comb their hair, well there’s a reason for all of that, and wasting time has nothing to do with it. I have come to realize that almost every move a woman makes, especially in business, is a calculated one. While risk-taking is an important element in order to achieve success, a well-thought out, and properly executed business model never hurt anyone. I take my hat off to female leaders in the workplace, and I would certainly shake the hand of any business owner who recognized the importance of having a professional woman on his team. It is so easy to become an all male team, but I honestly believe that a woman’s touch is necessary in all aspects of life, and is especially necessary in business.
Here’s the crux of it, I have have participated in many startup competitions and networking events, and in all of my years of being an active member in the startup scene, I have seen an underwhelming amount of female participants. These events, which cater to young entrepreneurs, and are open to anyone who wants to participate somehow only attract a very small percentage of females, and in my eyes this is very saddening. The truth of the matter is any startup new on the scene can benefit from having a woman as part of its leadership team. However, it seems that not enough women are stepping up to the plate.
Women need to start taking a more active stance in the startup scene, and as men we should welcome them warmly. Women as a group have certainly made their place in the workforce. However, there are less active women in startups then I would like to admit. Like with any leap, this too can be overcome, and I believe that this would be a positive change in the startup dynamic. I have recently learnt the value of a woman’s opinion in a startup, and it is strong voice that I would not consider working without in the future.
Written by Avishai Sam Bitton and edited by Leytal Ross
I started my business on the internet in the 90’s. I sell promotional products and at the time it was a man’s business with very few women. I was told I would never make it. Well 20 years later I am still going strong. Men and women bring something to the table but the comments I hear from my customers, is that it is nice to know someone cares. I am not saying men do not care but they are not nurturing like a woman. People like to think they are special and that is something I constantly enforce with my employees. With that said I think there needs to be a good balance with men and women.
I enjoyed reading your comment Arleen, and I hope you come visit our blog again soon (:
Avishai – Thanks for the great post! I fully agree that both genders’ perspectives are important in successful startups. I work for a company (Synata) that has a healthy balance and I love it. Our CFO wrote about this same issue for WSJ.com: http://goo.gl/uz7rAI
Thank you for commenting Anica, it is good to learn about Synata and your diversity! I just read myself the post Farrah White wrote, it was very interesting!
Thanks for checking it out!