Timo Boldt, Gousto’s co-founder and CEO, recently published a post about equality on his Linkedin. It’s an incredibly important issue to him, that affects not just people at Gousto, nor just in the UK, but worldwide. The keys points from his post have been summarised below.
Women in the workplace face hurdles that, like Timo ten years ago, many men can’t imagine. So what’s changed for him over the last decade? He’s seen women close to him – talented, intelligent women – miss out on promotions for not speaking up, lose out due to maternity leave and always be asked to take notes in meetings. And that’s just a tiny sample.
Currently, there’s about a 10% gender pay gap in the UK. “Women consistently outperform at school and university”, says Timo, “yet don’t make it to the top…the pipeline does seem to end at an invisible glass ceiling”.
He feels a responsibility and opportunity to help Gousto achieve “success by making the most of all available talent, but more importantly strengthening the career of every woman that walks through our door.” It’s a no brainer – a way to be a better business, by being a fairer business.
Why do we still have inequality in workplaces, and what can be done to change this? Timo sees it as 4 deep-seated structural biases:
1. gender stereotyping
- “whilst girls are told that they should play with pink princesses, boys get cars and computers…it is deeply ingrained into our thinking”
- “Leadership in itself seems to be a trait more attributed to men”
- Male or female, we can all be susceptible to gender bias: “A Columbia University study showed that both women and men recruiters thought male applicants were more analytical despite achieving the same results in tests as females”
2. workplace conditions
- “there is a ‘mummy’ tax from missed promotions and loss of experience from leave as maternity leave is almost exclusively a female thing in the UK”
3. group think
- “Male dominated cultures often think in a certain way…marginalising the benefits of equality and running the risk of pigeonholing women”
- It is “particularly important in our business where a high proportion of our customers are women to ensure that our group think is gender balanced”
- People generally promote and mentor in their own image: “with leadership and managements team over-represented by men there is a danger organisations will perpetuate this situation”
- “women generally apply for jobs when they are 120% ready for them. Men on the other hand apply when they are 75% ready – there is a big gap in confidence vs. competence”
What can we do to tackle these biases? Timo has vowed to put 8 things into action at Gousto:
- Discuss equality throughout the organisation
- Re-thinking parts of the hiring process
- Anonymising parts of the hiring process
- Creating awareness around biases
- Performing regular salary, promotion and fast tracking audits
- Moving to a results focused culture
- The leadership team and the Board should have a 50/50 split
- Encouraging paternity leave
“Change starts by talking about the problem. We’ve talked about it, Now we need to take action. If I have kids, I want them to live in a world with equal opportunity. Thanks to my wife, Sally (Gousto’s CFO), Rina (a dear friend and power woman), Alice D/Marisa/Jessica/Flo from team Gousto, and all the amazing people who opened my eyes.”