Give women a chance! Unless we break the patterns and barriers and start seeing women as missing pieces of the greater puzzle, we won’t be able to succeed. I believe that once you set yourself such limits and see women as an obstacle in the way of your goals, you are in fact setting yourself up for failure, even though you don’t see it right now. Limitations of any sort will find a way to spring out in a multitude of problems and you won’t even see it coming or will spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out what went wrong… what’s missing. Try a different approach, maybe a different puzzle piece. Try changing your beliefs about what others can and can’t do — give women a chance!
As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandra Marin. Alexandra is the design expert that leads CodeCrew’s development and success. She’s been designing websites and improving the way people interact with emails for over 7 years, working with brands all across the web. After working on projects for some of the biggest brands and most exciting start-ups, Alexandra realized she needed a strong outlet for her limitless creativity and prowess, and she was ready to turn her work into a mission — That’s when CodeCrew came to life. Alexandra’s passion for customer satisfaction drives her desire to create a seamless user journey. She is passionate about creating a memorable user experience and wants to bring the power of poise and simplicity to some of the biggest brands as well as non-profits who may not have access to top-tier design and email marketing. Her interest in non-profits and the goal to make the world a better place is what fuels the work that CodeCrew does: Email Marketing for a more sustainable earth.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?
Thank you for having me! It’s quite an honor to be here. This surprising journey began almost 10 years ago, right after I graduated college, where I studied foreign languages and realized that I wasn’t quite a fan of translating documents all day long, buried behind a desk filled with papers. It simply felt like I didn’t belong there — as if something was definitely missing — and I had to find out what that was. I always loved playing sports but since my parents encouraged me to focus on studying instead, I had to give up on my passion and choose the safer yet less fulfilling path. This gave me a strong desire to make a promise to myself, one which I would have to honor for the rest of my life. I promised that I would never give up on my dreams, never give up on what makes me whole, and never give up on my true nature.
Once I realized that the desk job I was in didn’t make me feel whole I — this is where the surprising part comes in — found another desk job! However, this desk job wasn’t like any other 9–5. When I sat down to design for the first time, I knew that there was no turning back. It didn’t matter what desk I was at or where I was anymore, all that mattered was that I had found the work that unleashed my passion, creativity, and analytical spirit without having to worry that my personal and professional development would stagnate. Following design felt more like a calling than anything, and I am pretty sure this was one of the best decisions of my life.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
Haha! Your question takes me back to one of the dearest moments of my life. It takes me back to two years ago when I got married. I’m kind of a freak when it comes to details, and after spending what felt like years looking for the PERFECT wedding invitations, I finally realized that I was going to have to design them myself if I wanted them to be as perfect as I imagined. So, there I went! I had to design them from scratch and then find an events agency willing to print them out without thinking I was totally mad. I’ll let you in on a little secret… I didn’t stop there. I went along and designed the ring box, menus, and gift box. At this point, I realized design was much more than any hobby or curiosity, it was my life! Luckily my husband understands my passion and still married me after pulling this one-off.
Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Hmmm, I’m going to call this one the most interesting because it helped me discover that no matter how experienced you think you are or how confident you are in your abilities to run a team, you can never truly run a company and be successful without putting your ego aside and your team first.
We were facing a situation where we almost lost a crucial project due to me being set in my own ways. Even though my team was doing an awesome job at presenting the right solution, my judgment was so clouded that I almost cost us all of our jobs and an important contract.
Somehow, I managed to take a step back and remind myself that there’s a very strong reason why each and every team member has joined me in this journey for so long. I was reminded that they could choose anything else to do or anyone else to work for, but they have made a conscious decision to be here and that thanks to them, we have made it so far.
I have never believed in the concept of a one (wo)man team, but rather in the strength of a team united by the same goal: To deliver top-notch services and actually make a real difference for the businesses we work with.
I realized the mistake I was about to make and I learned the importance of having an amazing team behind me and that experience does not grant you the right to believe that you always know what’s best for your company and that nobody is perfect, mistakes will happen and you are allowed to make them as long as you are willing to understand that you are part of a team, you are not the team although you are the one holding the greatest responsibility, they are the ones holding you.
Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?
Yes, that is true, unfortunately. To my mind/In my opinion, the most important element is the human factor. Although we have come so far, we still have to go a long way to the point in which we are all considered equals. Sometimes I feel like so many of us are still trapped in the Stone Age and are missing the point of our existence. Women have come a long way in the United States, but we forget that there is still a long way to go. We talk about gender equality so much that we live under the impression that the problem is half-solved, yet no concrete actions are being taken to eradicate it. The core of it all for me, having experienced gender inequality on a first-degree level, it all comes down to compassion. If we would all be a bit more compassionate toward one other, maybe we wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions of shame, guilt, and hatred that fill the blanks when compassion is not present. It should be as simple as that, but, unfortunately, it is not.
A major factor is education. Education lies at the foundation of needs for every human being. I like to imagine that children are clean book pages waiting to be written and some of them get to become best-sellers. You don’t get to write your own story when you’re a child, your parents and upbringing do that for you. your authors are misguided themselves, or are built on the truths and progress of past generations (as is natural) chances are your novel becomes a reflection of your programming and not an independent work of art. It does not become your work of art until you make it so until you pick up the pencil and write it for yourself. We live in a world today where there is an immense amount of resources at our fingertips for better understanding issues like gender inequality. You don’t need to have the first-hand experience as a woman to understand that there is a very present issue with the gender wage gap. Taking action starts with education. Without a solid education — based on healthy principles, love and respect, and the history of minority repression, including women’s rights — gender-related issues won’t go away.
As for the third factor, much of our modern-day work culture is influenced by traditions institutions of power. Women weren’t able to vote until 1920, and many women didn’t enter the workforce until the 1960s. In the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t that long ago. Women entered the workforce at a time when men had never worked with women before, they were used to seeing women as mothers — meant to be kept away from labor and power. These beliefs have influenced modern-day gender dynamics, and as previously mentioned, women have come a long way, but there is still much work to be done. With women still making 82 cents to every man’s dollar, we can’t say that we have earned equal rights yet. Women have worked hard to have a seat at the table, today, it’s about being equally valued at that table. Another contributing factor to this traditionalist power structure is that many men are not informed enough about maternity leave. While some companies to date have addressed that maternity leave should not be exclusive to a mother, but to both parents, there are still many biases around women taking maternity leave. Building an equal workforce for women involves equal, if not more, action from men to take part in education and progress.
Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?
Absolutely! Let me make a small side-step to tell you what our company, CodeCrew, is all about. We’re an email marketing agency with a strong environmental calling. What does that mean? Well, first off, we’re super honest folks so there’s no beating about the bush here — not all clients we ever work/worked for have an environmental mission. Focusing only on those clients would be detrimental to our greater goal. What we do instead, is ensure that whoever we work with has a mission, albeit making lives easier and/or happier for their clients, donating to charities or helping clean hundreds of tons of plastic waste from our oceans.
I know you’re probably wondering why we’re not exclusively environmentally focused, so let’s clear the air on that as well. Part of what we do here at CodeCrew is to run bi-annual campaigns where we handpick an NGO with an amazing mission and offer our full services to them completely free. This year we had Mission Graduates and ImpactMatters join our program. The first helps ensure that college is accessible for our less fortunate youth, while the second has an immense mission to help other NGOs understand if they’re doing a good job and where they need to improve.
Back to the main topic here, at CodeCrew we absolutely discourage the gender gap. We are a company built on equality in all forms, as reflected in our business model. Just because someone can’t afford our services, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve them. Sometimes you have to give others a hand to help them rise up. This stands true inside of our company as well. We believe that all genders, all ages, all ethnicities should have an equal opportunity for earning given that they do their best work. Our talented crew is made out of folks from as far West as the San Francisco Bay area, and as far East as Eastern Europe. The only thing we look at is how talented you are, and how much value you can bring to our team, we don’t care if you’re from Morocco or Vancouver, male or female, 18 or 55 as long as you’re leading with your heart. Our payment structure is built quite simple — we have a few tiers across a few different positions, and as your responsibilities grow, so does your wage; as easy as that. Nobody is treated or paid differently based on what they can’t change, but those who show a strong drive to make the world a better place through what we do are the ones who climb the ladder. The key to building this culture is being transparent. As we said, we are straight shooters who don’t waste our time with dishonesty or keeping things in the dark, we believe that transparency encourages equality.
Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.
1. We should start by raising awareness. We’ve been applying the same principle to the pressing matter regarding climate change and global warming and it’s working. Yes, it’s true that we are taking baby steps in that direction, but every step is better than no step. That’s how all success stories start, with small yet steady steps, until they amount to many people walking in the same direction. We begin by accepting that we have a real problem in front of us and that it needs to be addressed and we do that by educating people. That would be the second thing on the list to close the gender wage gap.
2. Educating people from all over the world, from all cultures and communities is vital to putting an end to discrimination and shrinking the gap. It requires a massive joint effort but the sooner we take action the faster women will have the same rights as men, including the ability to earn just as much or more.
Remember that this is not coming from a feminist who believes that the planet should only be populated by women — I’m exaggerating a little for the sake of making a point — but from a woman who believes that the key to success is equilibrium. A balanced frame of mind makes for a balanced world, a world where industries develop in a healthy way, without damaging the environment as much as they’ve been doing it for the past hundred years, a world where poverty would no longer be such a huge issue because we would all help each other and support underdeveloped communities, a world in which minorities or old beliefs will no longer create a rift between people, a world where women will be recognized for what they are, human beings just like men, with legal and societal rights, just like men.
3. Offering Support: In our endeavor to reach this ideal state or at least get close enough to a world populated by human beings with equal rights, we will need to offer support to those who need it. This third step might very well be the most significant one as every person performs better with a support system in place. We are social beings and knowing that there are support groups out there that can guide us throughout this life-changing journey encourages women and other unprivileged people to continue on the path to a better life, therefore, a better world. Women will have to adapt to a multitude of new situations and since our existence is all about constant changes, support is essential, knowing that there is somebody out there willing to offer them selfless help makes all the difference in the world.
4. Moving on to the fourth ingredient. Give women a chance! Unless we break the patterns and barriers and start seeing women as missing pieces of the greater puzzle, we won’t be able to succeed. I believe that once you set yourself such limits and see women as an obstacle in the way of your goals, you are in fact setting yourself up for failure, even though you don’t see it right now. Limitations of any sort will find a way to spring out in a multitude of problems and you won’t even see it coming or will spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out what went wrong… what’s missing. Try a different approach, maybe a different puzzle piece. Try changing your beliefs about what others can and can’t do — give women a chance!
5. Which leads me to the fifth element: You. This is where change starts. Wake up and start appreciating your team or co-workers, appreciating their hard work and let them know how much they are worth. But don’t do it without believing in the process. Open your mind, open your eyes and see how important each team member is to the development of your company or your ability to perform. See the fact that you function as one organism comprised of fine routes and connections backed up by a complex network of neurons working towards the same goal. If one neuron stops functioning properly the entire system goes haywire or crashes. The analogy reveals that all employees are part of your team and all of them should feel valued in order to keep your system from failing and just like neurons, they are gender-neutral so discrimination turns out to be counterproductive. Any person is capable of error and since there is no such thing as the perfect human being, what lies at the bottom of discrimination? Pure prejudice and narrow-minded thinking, simple as that. Take a second and ask yourself: “Am I perfect? Have I ever made mistakes during my career?” and if the answer is affirmative — which I suppose it is because like I said, nobody is perfect — then you will realize that the problem is you, not the gender of your peers. This is also where an opportunity for change will present itself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would like people to understand that all our actions have consequences and that we should love and respect each other and the world we are living in a lot more. I would like people to be less self-involved and realize that it takes a collective effort to grow together and that our legacy should not impact the world in a negative way. We are not here to parasite the planet and leave nothing good behind. We are here to thrive together by supporting each other and the planet, starting with humans and all other living creatures. We all have a specific role in the ecosystem so don’t let yours be the one of a parasite.
The answer to this question loops in with what we here at CodeCrew are already trying to do — increase the world’s effort towards living more sustainably by raising awareness through the work we create for our clients. Regardless of your career, your gender or any other factor, you can make a difference if only you set forth on achieving it, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain
This is my favorite quote and I try to let it guide me every day. It’s somewhat related to trying to find your calm in the middle of the storm. We live in a crazy stormy world and the only way to stay sane is to take a deep breath and take control of your anxiety and frustration.
Responding negatively to an unpleasant situation is only going to escalate the situation even more and won’t help you or the person you’re interacting with. Try being calm and replying with kindness and patience. Chances are you will get through to that person or situation better than by using aggression as a weapon even though that might be your first impulse.
Aggression always triggers a defensive response and builds up a wall between you and your interlocutor. If you practice kindness you will get to a state that allows you to communicate your message with ease and clarity and won’t turn the other person’s defensive switch on. It has helped me in many situations, and it diffused a lot of bombs, so to speak.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I would love to meet Roger Federer. I would be so humbled by the experience and by the opportunity to have a relaxing breakfast with such an amazing person. He is indeed an inspiration to all of us, an example of a great champion, one of the most balanced characters I’ve seen, a humble man carrying with such dignity and honor the values that should govern all of our lives. He is somebody who has succeeded in life and stayed true to his kind and driven nature. I truly admire him.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you too! I truly enjoyed our discussion today, and hope you have a great week!