Tech and eCommerce: How to Build an Inclusive Business
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Laetitia Vitaud, author and public speaker on the future of work. Founder of Cadre
Noir, a London-based research and marketing firm exploring the future of work and consumption, Laetitia also regularly collaborates with Welcome to the Jungle, a French website connecting candidates and employers, and co-hosts the podcast Nouveau Départ. She also has a newsletter on feminism and the future of work called [email protected].
During our conversation, we discussed the changing place of women in Tech, customer experience, and eCommerce along with how our businesses can build feminist and inclusive workplaces.
1. What is a feminist and inclusive business?
That’s a big question! First, you can recognize a resolutely feminist and inclusive company by its objectives. Today, companies are required to measure their gender equality against the Gender Equality Index. But beyond satisfying the transparency required by law, companies must think critically of diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization, including recruitment, management, the C-suite. D&I goals and initiatives need to be expressed clearly and infused throughout the entire employee experience.
What is the Gender Equality Index?
Developed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the Gender Equality Index measures the state of gender equality in European Union countries. The index is measured on a scale ranging from 1 to 100, with 100 meaning complete gender parity has been achieved. The index measures equality across eight “domains” – work, money, knowledge, time, power, and health – to issue a country’s score.
There are several things companies can do to create a workplace with a feminist and inclusive culture. Remote work is one of the greatest opportunities for inclusion because it offers flexibility and autonomy to employees, provided it is results-oriented and not hourly, as part-time work can drastically reduce the opportunity for women to develop their careers. And yet, 61% of women in the workforce are hourly employees.
Next, companies can invest in long-term mentorship programs. It is so important for companies to help their employees build a professional network, like social-media tool company Buffer’s 3 buddy program, particularly as we continue to work remotely. This allows all employees to be supported in their development and therefore in their ability to work and perform.
Finally, and the most important element in my mind, lies in how the company addresses parental leave and work-life balance. A company that offers equal policies and flexibility to all parents, regardless of gender, is a feminist company!
2. Why is this subject important? And what is the situation of tech companies?
Quite simply because it is a matter of justice! We need policies to reflect the needs of our society. Of course, there is also the economic opportunity that comes with targeting the entire population and not just a part.
To bring this conversation back to Tech, the state of gender parity has always been historically poor in the industry, but it’s now even worse due to the pandemic. Overall, we are witnessing a huge decline in women (and other minority groups) having a place in the world of work. As a result, many women are having to quit their jobs and withdraw from the workplace.
I like to recall what Simone de Beauvoir explained very clearly, “Never forget that a political, economical or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You’ll have to stay vigilant your whole life.” Thanks to the digital transformation movement currently underway, the Tech industry has a very strong growth opportunity, and yet, the inequalities are glaringly obvious. The repercussions of this appear in everything produced by the industry, which inadvertently leaves out a whole section of humanity.
3. Does eCommerce help improve or exacerbate the D&I gap?
The development of turnkey tools in recent years has broken down technical barriers to entry by, for example, offering ready-to-use sites. We’re seeing more and more new companies founded and led by women, especially in the Middle East. And, many of these female-led digital businesses are in eCommerce. ECommerce can therefore be a vector of inclusion and diversity, even if we have to be careful. After all, how many individuals actually manage to make a living from their entrepreneurship? Still, the transformation is underway. This diversification of commerce is a promising trend and will help bring new perspectives, voices, and products into the space. We all need to support this because it will make the eCommerce industry much more interesting.
For even more interviews with eCommerce experts and female leaders, check out the Women in eCommerce home page.