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Building a culture that supports women, leaders and families in a startup

Building a culture that supports women, leaders and families in a startup

Your company’s competitive advantage is defined by your ability to attract and retain talent; diverse talent.

As a leader or founder, you need to make considerations to attract, support and retain a diverse, high-performing team. I’d like to share my experiences, lessons learned and challenges, as a woman, a mum and a leader responsible for culture people in a startup, RedEye.

Startups, specifically technology startups, typically attract entrepreneurial, high-performing, fast-paced, ambitious talent. As your company matures so does your team and your need to evolve. In the blink of an eye, you will no longer be four people working out of a garage, you’ll be a team of 72 with three offices across the globe. Attracting top talent will be more important than ever and you won’t want your existing talent and tacit knowledge walking out the door because you culture hasn’t evolved to support them.

Here are some of our lessons learned we’ve learned so far as we’ve grown:

  • Flexibility is free. At RedEye, we provide opportunities to work from home or work part-time. However, this needs to make sense for the specific role and requires trust, good communication between all stakeholders, support and tools (video conferencing platforms, ability to take home work laptop and access data without being in the office)
  • Offer a paid parental leave scheme (for mum’s and dad’s to be). For us, we’ve found that 4 weeks makes a big difference to our team members and the cost of not offering a paid parental leave scheme is that you run the risk of team members who leave when they’re ready to start a family
  • Facilitate opportunities for women to connect with other women. We run an informal ladies lunch series for our team where our team members come together to learn from a speaker, socialise and learn more about each other.
  • Bring diversity into your recruitment process. At RedEye, the final step of our recruitment process is a roundtable interview with a diverse panel of team members that you’ll be interacting with.
  • Lead by example and collaborate with your team. Make a conscious effort to build diversity in every way into your leadership team

Some challenges we’ve encountered along the way…

  • OSDFA (one-size-doesn’t-fit-all). It’s essential to have freedom and flexibility in your processes and policies to support your team members individual needs. Don’t over complicate it.
  • Who else needs to be looped in and connected? You need to make sure your remote workers (whether working from home, are travelling or based in a satellite office) feel part of the team and the team has insight into their day to day
  • Timing. Although, startups have been known to move fast, we were slow off the march when it came to focusing on supporting women and parents in the workplace and as a result, potentially lost some talent.

Either way, whether you choose to adopt some of our lessons learned, it’s critical to have a strong culture focussed on teamwork, having each others back and genuinely caring about each other.

You will know when you need to start building more flexibility and support into your culture because if your culture is thriving; your team will let you know. I love being a mum and I love my job. As I transition back into the workforce – specifically as I sit here with my baby Lola sounds asleep (thankfully) – I’m super grateful I have been able to enjoy the best of both worlds with the support of my amazing team at RedEye.

We are still on our journey with heaps of room for improvement and I welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions on what else we could do to better support women, mums and leaders at RedEye and within the wider startup community.

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