Jade Collins and Alanna Bastin-Byrne are both sisters-in-law and Co-Founders of Femeconomy.com. Their goal is for women to shop brands that have female leaders to create gender equality. Collectively, women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions and in Australia alone during 2015-16, this equated to $198.9 billion. It’s called The Femeconomy Effect and is about using this economic lever to advance gender equity at a faster rate.
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’s combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications along with her leadership experience has proven invaluable for creating networks and engaging others to increase gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade is currently 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.
Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
The idea for Femeconomy came when I read that women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions. I thought this was a huge, unexploited lever to create gender equality. Often women don’t know exactly what they can do to support gender equality, and it’s well researched that companies with gender-diverse leadership are more profitable and successful. I thought that if we could inform consumers which companies have female leaders, and encourage them to buy from those companies, then it rewards companies who are gender diverse, as well as encourages other companies to accelerate their own journey towards gender equality.
Gender equality is something my Co-Founder Alanna Bastin-Byrne and I both strongly believe in. We both left our corporate careers to take the plunge into being full-time tech entrepreneurs. Every day feels like riding a roller coaster. Constantly thrilling and a bit scary at times.
Could you explain your business model to us?
We have annual subscription for listings on Femeconomy and we are an affiliate publisher for about 100 brands.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
We are launched the Altair campaign with our partner Tech Girls Movement Foundation at Google HQ in Sydney on International Women’s Day. We want to inspire the next generation to think about tech as a career option.
How do you make ideas happen?
A whole lot of collaboration, and a bit of caffeine. We like to network externally, ideally meeting someone new at least once a week in order to infuse continuous improvement feedback into Femeconomy. A lot of insight has come from inviting people into our collaboration.
Have mentors played a role in your business life?
Mentors have been instrumental in role modelling leadership skills, offering me career development and promotional opportunities. Sponsors are more valuable than mentors, as they are active in promoting you to others. I would urge people to look for sponsors first and foremost.
What does a typical day for you look like Jade?
By 7am I am straight onto the computer after I have fed my demanding cat Max (my loyal, Garfield-sized, not very productive office mate). My day then starts with coffee, breakfast, school drop off (shared with my husband) and then onto work. I tend to eat lunch standing up, often in conversation with Max (who is generally quite vocal about his desire to share my lunch) or my Co-founder Alanna. I get back to work then its time for school pick up. I usually consider exercise but often talk myself out of it. My new year’s resolution was to Kaizen my exercise routine and just do small amounts each day and build up. As a strategy to build consistency, it’s working. After dinner, I scroll through social media and then read. I’ve just finished Magda Szubanki’s Reckoning, which was a brilliant story.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
Funding. We made the decision to bootstrap and get on with building our business as fast as we could. We felt we were wasting our time pursuing investors initially and it was better to put our money where our passion was, build our minimum viable product and test it with the market. Quite a few successful female entrepreneurs advised us to bootstrap for as long as possible, and we know that less than 10% of available funding goes to female founders. We wanted to see it done as soon as possible.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Network as yourself, and be as genuine as possible. Then you will connect with the right people who ‘get’ you, making it far quicker and easier to find your tribe. It took me too long to figure this out.
What people or companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
In the gender equality space, our partners Diverse City Careers, co-founded by Gemma Lloyd and Valeria Ignatieva, only advertise jobs with employers who are supportive of women. We also partner with another inspirational organization Tech Girls Movement (TGM) Foundation, founded by Dr. Jenine Beekhuyzen. TGM runs an annual search for the next Tech Girl Superhero, a 12-week school based program where girls aged 7 to 17 work in teams and learn to build an app to solve a community program. We also recently met with Simone McLaughlin Founder of Jobs Shared, who is partnering with corporates to provide them with the knowledge and tools to effectively implement job sharing in senior level roles.
What about internationally?
Sallie Krawcheck’s Ellevate network in the US is going off like a frog in a sock.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Business can play an instrumental role in affecting social change. In my experience, this is generally most effective by partnering with or sponsoring social enterprises, rather than diverting their focus from core business. Innovative ways business can support social enterprises include sharing their unused office space, internal expertise, administrative support, or active mentoring of social enterprise leaders.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
I have supported a World Vision sponsor child for over a decade. I was having a particularly horrible day at work and wanted to turn my bad day into someone else’s good day, so I jumped online and sponsored a 3-year-old girl in Senegal.
What 3 websites woud you would recommend to our readers?
Who are 3 Australians you think we should follow on Twitter.
- Dr. Kirstin Ferguson who has made 2017 her year of #CelebratingWomen
- @manwhohasitall, a hilarious satirical twitter feed that highlights our unconscious bias by reversing things men and women typically say
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
We are looking for all people, and particularly women, who make 85% of consumer purchasing decisions, to be informed and shop brands with female leaders to create gender equality. Many people have already told us they have switched brands to a Femeconomy approved substitute. If you are a business that has at least 50% female ownership or 30% of women on your board of directors, then you can submit your brand to be listed on our site.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups what would it be?
What are the top three considerations when launching your brand into a new country?
What’s your favourite bar?
Mr & Mrs G Riverbar has a sensational view of the Brisbane River, is open air and provides excellent people watching opportunities