Trade Me has teamed up with GirlBoss’s Alexia Hilbertidou to encourage the next generation of female leaders into prominence with the first GirlBoss Awards.
Hilbertidou founded GirlBoss NZ in 2015 with the aim of closing the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, maths, entrepreneurship and leadership. Just two percent of New Zealand’s NZX 50 chief executives are women, she says, indicating it’s time this was changed.
Trade Me spokesperson and GirlBoss Awards judge Moana Roberts says the awards are a fantastic new initiative: “We’re stoked to be working with Alexia to bring the GirlBoss Awards to life for the very first time this year - it’s cool to lend our support and help make one of her dreams a reality.
The awards are targeted at women aged 11-18 who are engaged in leadership and innovation. Nominations are open now, and close on August 22. The winners will be announced on 19 September, the 125thanniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.
Foodstuffs North Island is backing one of the six categories: the Enterprise Award. This will recognise a young woman whose “ambition, independence and determination see her stepping out and making it happen in the world of business”, and reward her with $1000.
Two Foodstuffs North Island executives will judge the Enterprise Award: Wendy Hammonds, general manager people and capability; and Catherine Tardif, general manager strategy and new ventures.
“It’s so important that young people, particularly young women, are aware of their potential and the opportunities in front of them,” says Tardif. “That’s why we support people throughout their careers; from part time or full time work to learning a trade, leading large teams, even owning your own store and sitting on our board. We value diversity, which is why we’re proud to support GirlBoss and these awards.”
Hammonds says Foodstuffs North Island’s journey towards gender equality is well underway, with the cooperative close to a 50:50 split of male-to-female representation at an executive level, and committed to fair and equitable pay for all roles.
“Young women with entrepreneurial or business ambition can often lack support in their developmental years, and it’s great to see this changing thanks to initiatives such as GirlBoss,” says Hammonds.
We spoke with Hilbertidou about the importance of women in leadership to retail.
Retail is as vulnerable to low female representation at executive and board level as any other industry, despite the proportionately greater influence of female customers across retail spending. Why do you think that is?
Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in the overwhelming majority of industries. Even in so called "female dominated" industries such as beauty, fashion, and media industries, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to gender representation in upper management. Even what many would consider our most female dominated industry - beauty and cosmetics- we still have an average of just 29 percent female leadership across boards and executive teams, according to the LedBetter Gender Equality Index.
Despite the substantial number of global beauty and cosmetic brands marketed towards women in the Fortune 500, only one has a female CEO as of 2017 (Avon)
We do not need to look at global beauty giants to see the gender gap in leadership, even in female dominated fields, just take a look at our schools. The overwhelming majority of secondary school teachers are female, so what about principals? You guessed it - we have more male principals than we do female principals in secondary schools in New Zealand.
There are various reasons for why women are underrepresented in leadership, and numerous studies have been done on this topic, but a huge factor is subconscious bias. Here's a interesting test which we call at GirlBoss New Zealand the "Google Image Check." Type in "boss cartoon character" into Google Images and look at the results. This is what society has taught us a leader "should" look like. It's up to us to challenge that thinking.
Another factor is the lack of representation, young women can not be what they can not see. If young women imagine in their head - what does a boss look like, what does a coder look like, what does a chairperson look like, and it is so far from what they see in the mirror then it can be a huge barrier to them. At GirlBoss New Zealand we work with like-minded organisations to provide representation and mentoring to young girls. Our vision is to create the biggest pipeline of top female talent in New Zealand and close the gender gap in leadership and we are always looking to partner with organisations who share that vision with us.
Tell us about the value increased diversity creates for businesses.
Diversity is more than a box to tick. It's a smart business strategy. Various studies have shown that increased diversity leads to increased productivity, creativity and efficiency. I recommend everyone reads McKinsey's Diversity Matters - one of the most comprehensive studies on this topic. The findings are clear. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Analysing public companies In the United Kingdom, the report showed greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in the data set: for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes ) rose by 3.5 percent.
Diversity also attracts top talent, retains talent, enhances decision making, improves brand image, and boosts employee engagement. Everyone, regardless of gender, wants to feel equally valued and respected in the workplace.
Can you list some of your favourite female-run retail businesses?
- Adrienne Winkelmann (to look - never bought!)
Mimi Gilmour, founder of Burger Burger and her sister Sophie Gilmour of Bird on a Wire. Mimi even spoke at our first GirlBoss event!
Sarah Paykel of Lush Cosmetics Australia. Sarah once gave me pitching advice for over an hour!
- Lisa King - Eat My Lunch.
- Adriana Christie - Pallet Kingdom.
- Kathryn Wilson - Kathryn Wilson Shoes.
- Theresa Gattung.