The Intentionality Behind The Hiring Process Of Women In Startups

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Recently, I got hired in a managerial role, and my first task was to build my team. The budget was small and we were going lean; so, I figured we first start with four people on the team, including myself. I knew ahead of time that my team was going to be worth emulating in the company and serve the purpose for which it was created. But what I didn’t know, was that I was going to do more than expected when hiring. It was no longer about skills and experience; I added opportunity and advantage to, and for women.

I hear some startup CEOs speak about getting a CTO and a COO. As per usual, filling up the co-founder list with a group of guys names. There is always a successful guy they reach out to—equipping one person, a man, with 12 titles of co-founder. Meanwhile, there are so many qualified women who lack the opportunity and are never able to make it on these lists. I believe it’s wrong and archaic. We need to —as a matter of fact and progress— be more intentional with our startup founding members. Think outside the boys club of hiring all our best boys and instead look inside your office. Pick Brittany, the best backend developer to become the company’s CTO, or pick Stephanie, the most operationally effective person to become your COO.

Another thing that should be looked into when hiring women is sexism in the industry. I recently wrote an article about sexism in the workplace, and how it has to be annihilated when hiring into a team. Imagine a Marketing department headed by a Head of Marketing. She has 5 team leads reporting to her—content, design, visuals, digital & events. Payday comes and each of these leads are earning different salaries with content and event being the least paid. Why? because they’re not as ‘technical’ as visuals or design? This is sexism in the industry that must be looked out for and destroyed, especially when it relates to hiring women in those ‘less technical aka masculine’ roles.

Speaking extensively with the founder of Fliqpay, here’s what he has to say —from a male CEO’s point of view—about being intentional on hiring women in startups.

Q: Do you believe equity should take centre stage in the workplace?

A: Yes. I believe equity must take centre stage in the workplace, and I think the reason I believe so have a lot to do with my personal ideals. I believe we should always have balance in all things. Asides that, there’s a different perspective having both women and men in the office. No matter the business you’re trying to do, you’ll definitely have women and men on the market bringing to the table diverse perspectives on life and business. Whether it’s about race or gender, you can always get better with the raw diversity you have. Generally, even the culture and ambiance of the workplace is usually better when there is diversity of the sexes.

Q: Are all the roles in your company open to members of both genders? If not, why are those roles restricted?

A: All the roles in my company are and will always be open to both genders.

Q: Do you have a quota for female staff when hiring and if so, do you feel it has contributed to the growth and performance of your company?

A: At Fliqpay, we actively don’t. We don’t have a quota now but we’re very intentional about hiring women, and will be implementing the quota soon.

Q: How would you treat, or have you personally treated discrimination in the workplace between the male and female staff if any?

A: Well, I don’t think I’ve had cases of discrimination. I’ve not noticed—which is not because I am not intentional about it. I believe that the air in our office is generally clear. I’m sure there would have been like some personal clashes here and there but nothing as horrible as discrimination. Cases of miscommunication and outburst of sexist comments are dealt with immediately and squarely. I’m confident that the women at my office feels very safe.

Q: Confident enough that if a survey or a poll was being taken today there would be a 100% success rate? I’m talking in terms of them feeling safe and feeling represented as women.

A: In terms of feeling represented, I’m very sure we can do more, we can always do more. At the end of the day, the market is highly skewed and yet it is still possible to achieve the balance that we’re striving towards. To a very large extent, we’ve tried to create balance with some units by prioritising female hires.

Q: Is there any hiring method you feel would be better used by Nigerian companies that would eliminate discrimination by gender?

A: No, not necessarily. I don’t know that there’s a discrimination in gender roles is because of the system I think it’s the people.

Q: I say systems because, for example, earlier on in this article, we spoke about how designers were paid more than content creators because the industry is sexist as to what jobs are deemed harder than the other. So, that is what we mean by hiring methods or hiring themes. When I ask is there any hiring method you feel would be better used, basically I mean, what way would be better to remove gender discrimination and still maintain a very good workforce?

A: When you phrase it from that angle, there is a systemic problem, but the thing with systemic problems is a very big picture and most people still don’t see the picture. First of all, people should remove all environmental barriers or stereotypes and instead be very intentional to see beyond the gender and in a lot of cases you have to actually make an intentional effort towards getting a balance. I mean one of the things that have been spoken about in recent times is how ladies for instance ask for less pay even when they are more qualified than men. And at the end of the day, you are creating a future problem for yourself because one day, they will realise their worth and if you are paying them peanuts it will tell on their performance and their happiness.

Q: What would you say to CEOs of other companies about the importance of hiring women?

A: I would say: CEOs must be open to creating an office and culture of gender diversity and women empowerment; because in the long run, it brings value to the company and more importantly, you keep becoming a better person thank you.

Let me know what you think about hiring women in leadership. In my monthly newsletter, I discuss more about workplace (it’s a place for 9–5ers, creators, leaders, and everyone) so subscribe here please.

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Stephanie Chizoba Odili

Written by

Novelist, poet, and editor. Academic in the making. Purchase my books here—

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

Stephanie Chizoba Odili

Written by

Novelist, poet, and editor. Academic in the making. Purchase my books here—

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

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