Women Talk Tech Episode 62: Closing the Access Gap – Helping Female Founders Scale
Helping Female Founders Scale
Welcome to the show, Jennifer Jordan.
On this week’s episode of Women Talk Tech, we are joined by Jennifer Jordan. Jennifer is the Managing Director for the Female Founders First program with Barclays and Techstar, a program designed to allow trail-blazing female-led companies with resources to grow, scale, and advance their businesses.
While in high school, Jennifer did not consider a career in the tech sector to be a part of her future, however, she was thinking critically about how technology was beginning to shape our lives. In reflecting on one of her college essays she re-discovered recently, about how breakthroughs in telecommunications would be transformational, bridging cultures and continents in ways we never thought possible, Jennifer discovered that she’d been correct about her predictions for the future of technology.
“What struck me the most was the real global connection, and we’ve seen this in the Female Founders First program, we had companies from as far away as [Kenya, to the US, to Scotland]. We had really broad participation and that wouldn’t have been possible when I was a kid.”
Female Founders First
The Female Founders First program started its early development stages at the beginning of 2020 with a conversation between Barclays and Techstar about the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting female-led businesses. Jennifer was asked to join the project, which intended to answer the question: what can we do to help female-founders grow, scale, and advance their businesses.
“What we don’t want is this self-fulfilling prophecy that women don’t scale. Because they are perpetually under-resourced compared to their peer companies. They have to do more with less, and they actually get faster revenue than many of their male-led counterpart companies. But, we don’t want to see the fall-off at series A, and we know at series A, female-led companies are getting a disproportionately lower share of the volume of deals done at that stage and the dollars going into the companies at that stage.”
For Jennifer, it felt important to work towards supporting female-founders who have raised some capital and are on their way to making that next leap to series A in order to deconstruct the narrative that female-led business don’t scale.
COVID-19 and Women
The past 18 months have been difficult for many, however we have seen a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 related job losses impact women more than their male counterparts. Throughout the pandemic, women were often the first to be let go and the last ones to be re-hired again. Many women to transitioned into working from home faced further challenges as Jennifer explains:
“For women founders who were already under-resourced, the impact was profound. They’re at home with their kids, they still carry the majority of the burden for caring for their families, house-work, and other labour, in most cases. Getting them support and resources and helping them navigate was critical.”
Jennifer points to the way in which the challenges faced by female-founders arise not out of the business decisions of these founders on an individual level, but rather from a place of obstacles at every level of company building.
“The issues that affect female founders are not because they’re not great founders- these are great CEOs. It’s not a lack of acumen, it’s a lack of access.”
To learn more about how to achieve gender parity for your business, and close this accessibility gap for women-led businesses, read our Women Talk Tech Taking Action Plan.
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