How and Why We Support Women in our Workforce and in Tech
It’s well-documented that companies benefit from diversity yet still have far to go in making the workplace more diverse and inclusive. Here at Next Big Thing AG and our ventures, we’ve embraced the challenge, integrated it into our values, and are committed to building diverse companies. Besides the wealth of ideas and perspectives that diversity offers, it's also been shown to offer financial advantages as well.
As a tech company builder creating new ventures in-house, women contribute to the NBT workplace across many roles. We’re taking a moment to make them more visible. So far we have 25% female employment, with women occupying a wide range of roles including: Chief Operating Officer, CEOs of 2 ventures, Chief Product Officer, Director of HR, HR Managers, Marketing & Content Managers, Researchers, Graphic and UX Designers.
We're highlighting some of their stories and perspectives below. We asked them to share with us their background and answer these questions:
- Why does diversity matters to the workplace, or to tech in general?
- How we can do even better at changing the ratio right here at NBT?
Why is this worth discussing?
The numbers still show that tech is not as balanced as it could be. We hope our transparency on the topic encourages other companies to make the women in their industry more visible, since even editors of prominent tech publications are searching for more awareness of women in this space, despite there actually being many.
What if every company featured their female employees more publicly and asked for their ideas as to how to change the ratio?
Here’s what ours had to say, and be sure to see the takeaways and links at the end.
Silke Grimmer, Product Manager and Clinical Affairs Lead at AssistMe
In recent years, I have been working as Global Product Manager in different MedTech industries. My combined experience as a business and healthcare professional enables me to understand the challenges in care and health care from multiple perspectives. In my current role at AssistMe, I support our product development for the elderly care sector, especially in regards to user research, product strategy, regulatory compliance and product testing.
Various kinds of diversity in the workplace, whether gender, nationality, or age, remind me that everything I believe to be reality is only my own perception of things. It sparks my creative thinking and helps me experiment with new ideas.
NBT doesn't differentiate between men or women when it comes to encouragement in the workplace, which expresses a gender equality mindset to me. Admittedly, additional women power among the board members would be desirable –no offense intended to our male board members! I personally find it encouraging to see a good gender balance on boards.
Giulia Adelfio, HR Manager at NBT
I come from an Island in the south of Italy and this fact seeded in me the necessity to travel a lot. When I was 16, I spent half a year in Auckland New Zealand, where my love for global and political studies took root. After attending the University of many cities Bologna, Buenos Aires and Bangkok, I completed my M.A. at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I fell in love both with this city and a person here and could not fly away again. After a few experiences in the research/academic world, I started to grow into HR. In the future, I plan to develop further into workers’ rights.
The presence of women in the workplace is important for the simple but unquestionable reason that any environment - be it a private or public space - should be as inclusive as possible and recognize the value of each individual’s unique contribution to the whole. Not understanding this value means denying some of the greatest developments in history.The tech environment represents a greater challenge in this sense. Indeed fewer women than men have instruction in scientific and technological fields because society is still dominated by the ideology of women being more irrational and sensitive. But ironically, when looking at the sports section of any newspapers, you can see pages of football chronicling nothing but emotions!
Paulina Edelstein, Director of HR at NBT
I support building and growing companies from the initial stage – creating policies, defining and shaping culture. I gladly handle role complexity while strategizing recruitment for innovative tech (IoT, IIoT) startups, which is further strengthened by my experience in air traffic control for the Israeli army. After structuring and heading the HR department and its processes at relayr, I joined NBT in 2018.
I think companies which maintain diversity enjoy a broader skill set, points of view and experience. Conversely, a lack of diverse ideas puts an employer at a disadvantage due to the risk of disparities between gender, race, and class.
At NBT, are aware of this problem and working to fix it by writing job ads in a more neutral language, highlighting the flexibility around personal life/work balance, and talking about the success of other women in senior positions within NBT. When we attend tech events, we make it a point to target women in order to talk to them and make our job requirements less ‘tech aggressive’ According to my experience, some women fear they will not be able to deal with a role in tech, and we work against that misconception.
Kasey-Leigh Davies, Marketing Manager at Weeve
My experience in both the Digital Arts and Marketing fields is key to the way I transform complex technological concepts into digestible bits of information. I apply my experience to the curation of tech-focused content, campaigns, and experiences. My aim is to narrate and visualize complex concepts – whether it be distributed ledger technology or data marketplaces – in intelligible, inclusive, and innovative ways. Prior to relocating to Berlin, Germany, I supported various entrepreneurial business initiatives in South Africa.
A team functions at an optimal pace when everyone contributes. Distributed ledger technology for instance, has the ability to disrupt entire industries and forge a new discourse, so why should we stick to outdated, societal-constructs that govern who can say what, when and how, and let the narrative be told on a 50% basis? Technology ought to be represented by a diverse group of people who have the freedom, a platform and the appreciation to shape how it looks, functions and effects us. A lack of diverse representation will leave us again to only hear, see and experience a one-sided view at a non-optimal 50%. Personally, I think it’s valid to say, that 100% outnumbers 50%.
At NBT, I think there is a good balance for the tech industry, however, more women in senior positions are necessary for this 100% optimal functioning.
Michaela Zwiebel, Marketing Manager at METR
I started my career in startup-support at the Technical University of Berlin, working in marketing and events. After that I supported employers and coached employees in the job center. In June 2018, I joined METR as a Marketing and Project Manager.
From my point of view, a diverse team is a good economic factor. Heterogeneous teams are often more efficient. Different views, ideas, experiences and approaches to solutions lead to higher innovative strength. And innovative strength is a core aspect of a technology company.METR promotes women in the workplace. Two of the three people at our management level are women. This is a good sign of a supportive environment for women. Another positive contributing factor is the company-wide flexible working hours that better enables women with children to have great jobs.
Dr. Franka Birke, CEO and co-Founder at METR
I began my career in science. After spending years researching the success factors of young technology-oriented companies, I set up the entrepreneurship program at Climate-KIC, a European accelerator for clean tech start-ups. Subsequently, I was entrusted with the management of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Technical University of Berlin and promoted spin-offs from science. In 2017, along with my co-founder Maite Hernandez Zubeldia, we moved to the management of NBT’s Proptech startup, METR. I am also a jury member at the Energy Awards and the Business Plan Competition Berlin Brandenburg.
Diversity in the workplace is very important. Diversity triggers creativity. Interesting approaches only emerge when people think differently and exchange ideas and look at challenges from different perspectives. NBT gives everyone a chance – male or female. There are actually a relatively high number of women at NBT, who can build on their strengths and develop further here. This is in stark contrast to the German real estate industry, where METR comes from, which is still strongly dominated by men.
Congratulations to Dr. Franka Birke on your nomination for IT Woman of the year. Please join us in voting for Franka!
Here are some key takeaways you can apply to your company:
- Aim to have more equal gender representation on boards.
- Create opportunities for professional development for all.
- Strategize to find roles for women in senior or leadership positions.
- Make job description language more neutral.
- Accommodate work life/balance through flexibility in the workplace.
Sources & Further Reading: