The fact that women are underrepresented in the tech industry isn’t news; the industry still lags far behind in terms of gender diversity and equality. According to research by Equilar, among Silicon Valley’s 150 largest companies only 15% of board seats were filled by women in 2016, and Tech Crunch reports that only 26% of computing jobs are held by women.
While these statistics leave a lot to be desired, the amazing work that women are doing in the industry doesn’t. At a Capgemini Women’s Business Network event earlier this week, women of all roles within Capgemini came together with Christine Hodgson, Chairman of Capgemini UK and her special guest, Claudia Harris, CEO of the Careers Enterprise Company, to discuss success, stereotypes and standing out.
To celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we’re sharing a list of five tech businesses founded by inspirational women who have done just that – they have challenged stereotypes, were not afraid to stand out and have achieved great success in the industry.
Their businesses all provide an element of digital customer experience in some way and they have clearly leveraged advances in technology to enhance the customer experience. They have focused on meeting customer’s expectations on the importance of instant, digital products and services that set them apart from more traditional providers.
Charlotte Pearce – Inkpact
Image source: The Times
Founded in 2013, this hand-written note marketing company is changing the way organisations communicate with their colleagues, partners and customers.
Inkpact makes it easy to send hand-written notes via workflows with CRM systems or via an API. Organisations can create direct mail campaigns or send handwritten notes to customers, for example when a customer complains, is loyal or celebrating a birthday. They make it simple to set up so it’s completely automated.
Inkpact’s mission is to accelerate and personalise the connection between organisations and their customers. The envelope they send handwritten notes in creates curiosity, which ensures it’s opened. The personalised handwritten words capture the recipient’s full attention as it’s unexpected.
The social impact is at the core of Inkpact a strong writer community. They’re a registered social enterprise, which means they work with charities to support people in difficult circumstances improve their employability and literacy. They provide flexible working for those who cannot commit to full-time or a traditional, 9-5, office-based work pattern. By providing truly flexible work that can be completed from any location, Inkpact has the potential to create opportunities for thousands and have a positive impact on reducing unemployment and underemployment rates in the UK.
Pearce is named as one of Forbes 30 under 30 for Technology and is even in talks with the Royal Household about who will be writing the Queen’s Christmas Cards.
Michelle Zatlyn – Cloudflare
Image source: Forbes
Cloudflare isn’t a business that most of us will have heard of but this company handles the website traffic for millions of websites, serving more traffic than Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Instagram, Bing, & Wikipedia combined.
Cloudflare is designed to optimise websites by increasing their speed and efficiency and to keep sites secure by protecting them from a range of threats, from spam to malicious attacks.
Michelle Zatlyn co-founded Cloudflare in 2009 along with Matthew Prince and Lee Holloway. Since then they have raised over $180 million in funding and protect websites varying from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses.
Emily Weiss – Glossier
Image source: Forbes
Launched in 2014 on the back of her highly successful beauty blog ‘Into the Gloss,’ this beauty eCommerce startup and media brand has been making waves.
Weiss amassed a highly engaged audience and a mass of research through ‘Into the Gloss’, which she leveraged to create beauty products that readers wanted to buy. The company was founded on a principal of two-way conversation with its customers and this continues to be a key component of Glossier’s success.
The site has been highly successful in using different channels to engage its cult-like following and improve its products; Glossier launched on Instagram, collects customers’ advice and comments through blogs and social media, often shares customers Instagram posts and has invited the 100 most active consumers to take part in a Glossier Slack channel which is reported to exchange over 1000 messages a week.
At the end of 2016 Glossier announced a further $24 million in funding from investors, adding to the $9 million already raised.
Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin – The Skimm
Image source: Into the Gloss
Founded in 2012 by two former NBC producers, The Skimm sends a daily round-up of the key news headlines to more than 4 million readers who have signed up for their newsletter.
The chatty, engaging tone doesn’t replace the depth of coverage provided by more traditional news outlets but it does resonate with its largely, young, professional, female readers who want to keep up to date on what’s going on in the world, in a way that fits their schedule. As the founders put it, “reading the news is time-consuming, wanting to read the news is a hobby, lastly not everyone has the time or interest. The Skimm solves all that and makes is easier to be smarter.”
In 2016, 21st Century Fox invested $8 million in The Skimm, adding to the roughly $10 million already raised.
Lucy Peng – Alibaba / Ant Financial
Image source: Fortune
In 1999, Lucy Peng was one of Alibaba’s 18 co-founders, now China’s biggest eCommerce company. After holding multiple positions at Alibaba, she is now CEO of Ant Financial, the online financial services company which Alibaba spun off in 2014.
Ant Financial is valued at over $60 billion and is the operator of Alipay, the third-party online payment platform which, according to estimates by Credit Suisse, deals with 58% of China’s online payment transactions. In addition to Alipay, Ant Financial offers services such as wealth management and micro-lending. Analysts are keenly awaiting an announcement on the timetable of an IPO which is expected to occur at some point in the next few years.
Given the incredible work being done by women in tech and in many other industries, putting a spotlight on the work of just five was, as you can imagine, extremely difficult.
While organisations still struggle to #BeBoldForChange and have a long way to go to position women as equal to their male counterparts, these women and many more are leading the way. They are developing exciting products and services, and are creating businesses that will shape the landscape for women all over the world.