Did you know that women make 85% of purchase decisions? That equates to more than $800b in spend – colossal purse power. It’s an insight that led Jade Collins and Alanna Bastin-Byrne to create Femeconomy, an online index of women-led suppliers and brands. The award-winning initiative educates consumers, budget owners and business leaders on how their purchase decisions can drive gender equality. Ultimately, we can channel our collective purse power to impact bottom lines and get more women into leadership roles.
Mavens corresponded with the two founders to learn more about Femeconomy’s mission and how women in the advertising and media industries can get involved.
How did you both meet, and what led you to create Femeconomy?
We are sisters-in-law. We joke that Jade did 15 years of due diligence before inviting me to partner with her on Femeconomy.
The catalyst for the business was Jade reading a Harvard Business Review article on how women make 85% of purchase decisions and wondered how economic levers could be used to drive gender equality.
Femeconomy started with female consumers. When the global consumer economy is valued at $35 trillion, women’s spending accounts for $28 trillion. So, two thirds of all the money spent in the world is by women. Your collective purse power is bigger than the emerging economies of China and India put together, twice over.
So we started telling people which companies didn’t just talk about women in leadership, they HAVE women in leadership. Femeconomy’s certification criteria is that companies have at least 30% women on the Board of Directors, or 50% female ownership.
As we all know, culture is led from the top. Companies with female leaders are less likely to have a gender pay gap, more likely to have parental leave and workplace flexibility and they employ more women. Therefore, these companies are improving gender equality on an organisation-wide basis and helping more women and men to create change in their communities.
When we started Femeconomy, our female consumer community gave us the feedback that they are also business owners and would like to support female led businesses, so we started listing those on our site too.
Now we provide a lot of education to companies and Governments wanting to implement gender equality procurement principles.
What is Australia’s current position when it comes to gender equality?
No country in the world has achieved gender equality. The countries that are on the right path might surprise you. New Zealand, Namibia, Rwanda and Lithuania are all in the top 10 of the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index.
Where do you think Australia places?
50th out of 156 countries.
This report shows we are number one in the world when it comes to educational attainment for women, but our legacy systems, structures and networks stop women from progressing into leadership positions.
How is the gender imbalance affecting Australian women every day, in ways we mightn’t even realise?
Australia has one of the most gender segregated workforce in the world. In Australia, we believe there are jobs for women and jobs for men, and we value those jobs differently. A person who pushes a wheelchair is not as valued as a person who pushes a wheelbarrow.
Measuring gender equality is important because countries with high rates of gender equality have low rates of domestic violence. It is an epidemic in Australia, but thankfully we are seeing structural improvement like including sexual harassment in the Respect at Work amendment bill 2021 and groups like Champions of Change Coalition providing toolkits on how to deal with domestic violence perpetrators in the workplace.
The gender equality structural issues also manifest themselves in different ways in Australia. For example, how the superannuation system has been established means that women retire with around 50% less superannuation than men. Women aged over 55 are one of the fastest growing demographics for homelessness. Mothers and grandmothers who have spent their lives caring for others are becoming homeless.
In Australia, gender inequality also impacts men. Nine Australians die every day by suicide. That’s more than double the road toll. 75% of those who take their own life are male.
4 out of 5 new fathers want to be involved in caring for their children. Very few fathers are given this opportunity in their workplaces.
Gender equality is not a zero sum game. Women progressing into leadership positions reduces the structural reliance on the male breadwinner model.
Thankfully, there are many across Australia addressing these problems.
Femeconomy approved brands have at least thirty percent of women on the Board of Directors (or are fifty percent female owned). Why thirty percent specifically?
Research shows that 30% is when voices become heard in their own right, rather than simply representing the minority. It is an important first step. Research also shows that companies are more profitable, which means more opportunity for women and men in those companies.
However, we are seeing that companies get to 30% and stop there. This means that they can often slip backwards if one person changes on the board, or if there is a merger or acquisition. This is why Femeconomy annually monitors and publishes this information, to help keep those companies accountable and on the gender equality path.
What actions should agencies be taking toward gender equality?
Use your procurement power to support women owned and led businesses. They are the ones changing legacy systems and structures, impacting women’s economic security and workforce participation. They also employ more women.
Your action can be as simple as including one women owned or led business in every quote or tender process. Here is an example policy for Small to Medium Enterprises, or a toolkit if you are in a larger, more complex organisation.
Femeconomy publishes all the certified women owned and led companies in our network, so it can be as frictionless as possible for you to find them. But, if you ever need help, feel free to reach out to email@example.com
If your business has at least 30% of women on the Board of Directors or 50% female ownership, you’re eligible to join Femeconomy. Learn more here.