It seems that as a start-up, Muuyu just hasn’t managed to tick all of the typical boxes.
Resources: Overstretched and under-financed – Tick! Employees: Similar! Environment: Open and engaging; Spontaneous meetings that result in 500 colored stickies being posted on all available wall-space – Tick!
Gender-bias in favour of men: – Tick…wait…what?!
It’s true that the CEO of the company, Matt Devine, is a guy. Muuyu was his idea in the first place so we’re all quite happy for him to take responsibility for that! However, until recently there were more female employees in the company than male and even, while some folk have moved on, women still make up a large part of the team.
This is far from the usual picture though. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research in the US, while women own approximately 40% of America’s private businesses when it comes to venture-backed startups that figure plummets to less than 10%. The 2012 ‘Women at the Wheel’ report which was carried out by Dow Jones and studied venture-backed startups over a period of 15 years, claimed that 1.3% of privately held companies had a female founder, 6.5% had a female CEO, and 20% had only one or more female C-level executives.
Europe’s start-up story has a similar plot-line. In fact, that was one of the reasons why American entrepreneur Jess Erickson set up the Berlin-based Geekettes, a network of female tech entrepreneurs and professionals. She, like everyone else with adequate eyesight in the German capital could see that the internet start-up sector was swinging and yet there were very few women at the party. Her company, which holds regular network meetings, runs courses and workshops, mentor programmes, pitch sessions and hackathons for female entrepreneurs, aims to encourage more women to step up when it comes to, well, startups.
Geekette now has over 700 German members and branches across the globe including New York and London. In Germany, where according to BITKOM, the German Association for IT, Telecommunications and New Media, over 100,000 new jobs in the Internet sector have been created over the last five years, it is people like Erickson that are ensuring that women can be viable contenders for those positions.
But at Muuyu, gender equality runs to more than just a head-count. As a small (but perfectly formed) start-up of eight we, in fact, represent a host of different nationalities, cultural backgrounds and age groups. So even before we separate the men from the not-men, diversity is a given and therefore an integral part of our company culture.
On both a social and strategic level this is really a good thing.
Firstly, problem-solving, while it may take a little longer when you are eight equal voices with eight differing perspectives, happens within a much broader frame of reference.
An additional benefit to managing our issues by looking at them from all angles is that we’re also strengthened as a team because we learn to bounce off, listen to and lean on each other.
From a strategic point of view it’s also hugely important for any startup to mirror the demographics of its target market. As Muuyu is an online yoga platform it thus goes without saying that a large part of our customer-base will be women. Including female perspectives in the decision-making processes, then, is kind of a no-brainer.
And here’s the thing: even while women make up less than 20% of the startup sector, those companies that do include women generally perform better. In fact, studies have shown that an average of 30% of companies with more gender diversity had better success rates from IPOs.
So what’s the problem? Isn’t it time to drop the gender imbalance in the startup scene?
Looks like Muuyu is ticking the right boxes after all.
Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content with Muuyuand a co-founder of the company. Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism. She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog. Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life. However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.
Connect with Siobhan here.