Yes, the project or initiative has been established for more than 2 years.
Team - who worked on the project/initaitve
Jade Collins and Alanna Bastin-Byrne are Co-Founders of Femeconomy.com, where you can shop brands with female leaders to create gender equality.
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. Jade was also announced as one of 80 Women2Watch in Retail Disruption in Australia and the US in 2017 and is the only Queenslander on the list. Jade has also been asked to deliver a keynote at the 3% Conference Australasia in August.
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.
Overview - Provide a summary to introduce the project or initiative
Women make over 85% of purchase decisions. In Australia alone during 2016 this equated to $198.9 billion. At Femeconomy.com we want women to shop brands with female leaders to create gender equality.
We've researched over 2000 brands to see which have at least 30% of women on their Board of Directors or are 50% female owned. So far, over 700 brands meet Femeconomy's approval criteria which is signified on the site with Femeconomy's badge of approval. Any company who meets our criteria can apply to be listed. Our goal is to map all businesses who meet our criteria in Australia then in the US and UK. Whilst we are growing the site, we are empowering consumers to shop for gender equality.
Gender equality won't be achieved in Australia for another 169 years as reported by the World Economic Forum. Many companies are advancing top-down strategies for gender equality like the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Male Champions of Change. Consumer activism is the missing piece of the puzzle and our stakeholders agree. Since we launched Femeconomy we have met with, been profiled by or attended events with stakeholders mentioned above as well as others including the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Diversity Council of Australia and Women on Boards.
Femeconomy is owned and operated by two Co-Founders, who are also sisters-in-law, Jade Collins and Alanna Bastin-Byrne. There are 70,000 women owned businesses in Australia alone and Australia's female population is approximately 12.2 million.
Detail the approach that was taken to implement the project or initiative, what actions were taken and why?
Firstly we had our first two day planning session in March 2016 to map the key milestones for the first year. One of the key decisions was to align with the Australian Institute of Company Directors goal of 30% of women on Boards by 2018.
From April - August 2016 Jade researched the gender balance on the leadership teams on over 2000 brands. During this time, we also outsourced the website build to a female owned web developer, developed our content plans and marketing strategy, and undertook significant stakeholder engagement.
In September 2016 we published which of those meet Femeconomy's approval criteria of at least 30% women on the Board of Directors or 50% female ownership. So far over 700 consumer and B2B brands meet our criteria. Femeconomy approved brands are idenfitied on the site with Femeconomy's badge of approval. This is the largest set of lead indicator data for female leadership in Australia. Our goal is to map every female owned business in Australia, UK and the US. An important part of this strategy was to purchase femeconomy.com from a company in Sweden to protect our brand. From October 2016 we implemented our digital marketing, PR, stakeholder and community engagement strategies.
Information on the site has developed as a result of feedback from the female economy. For example, we launched professional services much earlier than planned, we have diversified our income streams and we have changed formatting on the site and messaging to make our criteria much more prominent. By quickly responding to customer feedback and implementing changes, we are bringing the community with us on the journey and this leads to new business and new opportunities.
In January we were announced as one of 80 Women2Watch in Retail Distruption in Australia and the US. There are 10 Australian honorees and Jade is the only Queenslander on the list. This network has been invaluable in meeting people working domestically in retail. We will also use this as a way to build a network in the US.
We launched paid subscriptions in February 2017 once we felt we had a profile. The subscriptions continue to grow and last month we had a 102% increase on the previous month.
In March 2017 we launched a campaign with our partner Tech Girls Movement Foundation at Google HQ in Sydney.
In April 2017 we had our second planning days for the year ahead and set KPIs based on what we have learned about the business in the previous year.
Was there organisational/industry or other resistance to the initiative? If so, detail the actions taken to overcome resistance to the project or initiative.
In every interview we have undertaken people ask what about men? It's easy to counter this resistance because gender equality benefits both sexes. Our belief is that mobilising the female economy will progress gender equality at a faster rate, which benefits everyone.
More women in leadership isn’t just good for women, it’s good business. Research from the Peterson Institute of International Economics shows that going from having no women in corporate leadership to a 30% female share is associated with a 15% increase in profitability for a typical firm.
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. Husbands want their wives to have equal pay for equal work and to close the superannuation gap. Everyone wants more work flexibility. Through gender equality we will destigmatise men taking career breaks to undertake caring responsibilities.
On Twitter and Facebook we have been trolled but we have a social media issues management strategy where we ask ourselves whether we use the opportunity to educate, ignore, delete, deflect and whether we use a personal or company voice. Most of the time we use the opportunity to educate. We firmly believe that gender equality is a journey and most of the time people are telling us where they are at, even if they are trolls. We come from a place of wanting to understand their point of view. So we ask further questions, sometimes agree in part with points they are making and we offer evidenced based points of view to support our reasoning. 99% of the time the situation usually dissolves quickly and there is no further trolling.
In terms of one on one meetings, unconscious bias certainly prevails as well as a lack of understanding about what gender equality means for women. However, it's important to give people the space to make mistakes and again use it as an opportunity to educate. If we close the door to people who are trying to engage in gender equality initiatives because they accidentally say the wrong thing, then it will take longer than 169 years to achieve gender equality in Australia. Men absolutely need to be part of the solution, particularly when you see that less than 5% of ASX200 CEOs are women.
Detail the follow up or response to the project or initative by the organisation /industry /sector. For example has it been extended for a further year, or has the scope been expanded?
Since we launched the site at the end of September reach, engagement, subscriptions, companies approving Femeconomy to be affiliate publishers, as well as meetings with large corporates who meet our criteria have all been growing. The scope has expanded to include B2B businesses and other categories like Marketing and Communications, Legal, HR and Logistics.
In terms of industry, we continue to meet with organisations advancing gender equality to look at how we can amplify their messages. Recently we've met with WeConnect, Chief Executive Women, Women Lawyers Association of Queensland, Australian Women Lawyers and Women in Power. We have also been in discussions with Chiefs for Gender Equity SA. We also continue to maintain relationships with the stakeholders we have already met. In June 2017 Femeconomy received a QLD iAward for Community Services. This award has helped amplify what we are creating in the gender equality space using the power of information.
It's important we continue to engage with corporates and this year we have met with Commonwealth Bank, Suncorp, Google, Vodafone and Telstra. With regards to the companies that apply to be listed on Femeconomy, we are finding we are a conduit for introducing people who are aligned to work together and we are starting to monetise that section of the business through setting up referral relationships with companies we know will deliver and who align with Femeconomy's values.
We are also engaged with Universities. We are regularly invited to attend Bond University's Women's Entreprenuership Series, we are speaking at a QUT Business Breakfast in October and we are also in various discussions with Griffith University, UQ and Online Education Services.
In terms of the startup community, we have attended Google's Female Founders event in Brisbane, Click Digital Brisbane event and Quensland Government events. We've also met with the CEOs of Springboard, Blue Chilli's SheStarts, Scale Investors and Heads Over Heels. Jade was one of 10 women invited to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner's roundtable for female led startups.
What outcomes have been achieved against overall program or organisational performance? Using metrics specify these outcomes, for example financial, growth, policy achievement, performance or capabciltiy uplift?
Financial performance: last month's income has seen a 433% increase compared to January 2016, which is when the site was monetised.
Audience reach: Last month the reach across social media channels and the website was over 120,000. We started with approximately 2,000 8 months ago.
Policy achievement: We are receiving feedback that people are changing their shopping habits based on our advice around consumer activism and shopping for equality. We will be circulating a quantative survey in August 2017 to capture the data.
We have also been featured in the Australian Institute of Company Directors' Quarterly Diversity Report, a Women on Boards' and also via the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia's events and newsletters. Women in Power, Womens Lawyers Association of Queensland and Sydney Women's March are just some of the organisations to circulate our messages of shopping for equality. Since we launched ANZ and Myer have both put another female on their Board of Directors. We have also been booked for speaking engagements by the Commonwealth Bank, McCulloughs Robertson Lawyers and the 3% Conference Australasia to name a few. We have met with CEOs or Executive Management at companies who meet our criteria including Suncorp, Telstra and Online Education Services.
Performance: Since launching in September we have regularly reviewed our analytics to improve performance. It has enabled us to make technical improvements to the website and do more of what customers want and less of what they don't. Our digital advertising started off as very broad while we tested what channels and messaging worked for our customers. Now that is finely honed and helps drive revenue. Initially we worked very hard to generate PR and now we receive approximately one request a week to be interviewed or profiled.
Capability uplift: This time last year both Founders had no retail industry experience. Through technology we have learned about a new industry, built a network within that industry and are being invited as media to profile industry events such as the Online Retailer Conference, or being profiled by organisations like the National Retail Association. Jade was also announced as a Women2Watch in Retail Disruption this year. In terms of marketing, web design, stakeholder communications and public relations, Jade had no experience in any of these areas prior to launching Femeconomy. Alanna has improved her technical knowledge in these areas as a result of the hands-on experience, rather than leading teams responsible for these functions.