Womyn in tech: what we’re doing to lean in
Josephmark’s Operations Director Megan Griffiths knows women in tech have a lot more leaning in to do, but as head of studio and people at JM – she also knows how vital it is for companies to lean in too. Here, she reflects on what – as a studio – we’re doing about inequality in the workplace, and how far we’ve got to go.
In this age of pussy-grabbing ridiculousness, sadly you don’t have to look far to see our lady friends still getting the short straw of life. In our industry, we are constantly seeing evidence of the patriarchy at work, for instance, events with male-only speaking panels, start-ups proudly showing their dude-centric teams, and of course, the infamous Google memo had us with bruised and swollen foreheads from all the facepalming.
This is why I’m so grateful that here at JM, we work with a bunch of awesome lads and ladies who are all on board with stamping out gender bias and inequality whenever we spy its nasty little head. We’re not perfect all the time, but here are a few ways that we endeavour to keep these olde worlde ways slipping into our gang:
We love Slack and our womyn’s channel was one of the first channels we set up (after #lunch, #vino and #midweek-pizza-club, of course). It’s a place where we share articles about all kinds of women’s issues, but typically these are around women working in tech. I won’t lie, there’s the occasional Justin Trudeau gif too, but it’s all in the name of #feminism. We also welcome the gents in our team to join the channel, and ensure that we share the nuggets of wisdom that apply to the entire team in our #general channel.
It’s nice to be reminded of how good we’ve got it in a lot of ways, but also keeping front of mind how we can keep improving things for all the sistas. I suspect it’s because of this channel that we all became aware that it was quite often the women who volunteered to take notes in meetings. We called this out and had a chat with the team about our observations. Of course, everyone had their reasons not to, but “I don’t take notes so I can participate in the conversation fully” wasn’t a reason. Bringing this to light and talking about the repercussions of this very simple oversight was a small but great step to make sure sneaky little habits (by both the guys and gals) weren’t sneaking into our culture. Anyway, this is something we’re still working on, but recognising it is halfway to solving it. And, yes, we purposely spell it ‘womyn’. If an arts degree taught me anything, it’s that I did NOT come from Adam’s rib.
“If an arts degree taught me anything, it’s that I did NOT come from Adam’s rib.”
It was from the fabulous womyn’s channel that we came across heaps of cool articles discussing women’s propensity for throwing ‘sorry’ about like confetti at a wedding. Our brilliant producer, Candace, proposed that we start a sorry jar, so for every inappropriate or unnecessary ‘sorry’ dished out, you’d put $1 in the jar. At the end of the month we donated all the funds to the studio’s dream BFF, Malala Yousafzai.
Flexible work hours
One fantastic initiative we introduced a few years ago is flexible working hours for all staff. This means you can start work when you want and end work when you want. As long as you’re a grown up about it and get your work done, then we give everyone responsibility for their own hours. This is great for everyone in the team of course, but if you’re a working mom (like me) or dad then it makes the mayhem of child w̶r̶a̶n̶g̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ raising just that bit easier. It means that it’s no big thing for me to pop off to enjoy a toddler dance recital – if you haven’t been to one, add it to your bucket list. You’ll grow a six-pack with laughter. Children really are quite awful at following instructions.
“For every inappropriate or unnecessary ‘sorry’ dished out, you’d put $1 in the jar.”
Making sure we make our workplace mum-friendly is really a top priority for us. It kinda sucks that science has not yet sorted out the very feasible technology demonstrated in the brilliant 1994 documentary Junior where pregnancy is a task that can be shared by the gents. So, in the meantime, we’re trying to even up the playing field by making sure our brilliant mum employees don’t get disadvantaged by their biological advantage/disadvantage (depending on how you look at it).
As well as our flexible work hours, our working moms get to determine how they return to work, usually in a combination of part-time hours and working from home. This is often a tricky area to navigate in a small business, but if you’re clever (like us) then you know that mums are exceptional multi-taskers and know how valuable and precious their time is, so a day of work is a GODDAMN ALL CAPS DAY OF WORK. You should see them. It’s next-level Wonder Woman-esque stuff. Pew pew! When we’re not staring in awe at these women, we dream that one day the new dads will be just as willing to take on part-time roles so they can do their share of child wrangling too.
“Making sure we make our workplace mum-friendly is really a top priority for us.”
Most of the leadership team at Josephmark are womyn. BOOM! Take that, glass ceiling! The roles we have filled by very fashionable lady-shoes are CEO (currently on mat leave), Operations Director, Creative Director, Content Lead and Growth Strategy Director. Having female leadership in our little business makes it feel like everything we strive for with our #girlpower ethos is actually making a difference. We get to witness outstandingly strong and brilliant women every day doing the kind of work that you’d typically see guys doing in stock imagery.
We often find that through the work we do, we really do crave female input – we can see in a design whether it has had a male or female influence, and this extends through to other facets of our team such as content, support, management and development. This last field breaks my heart the most, as we’ve really found it tricky to find girl developers. Are you out there coding gals? Hello? There is a bigger picture to address, starting with getting more young gals into coding and ensuring the gamut of super cool STEM opportunities are never seen as a boys-only-zone (see the great work that JM Alumni Sarah Moran is doing with Girl Geek Academy). Aside from including a plea on our job ads for folks from all backgrounds to apply, we’re still searching for the best way to ensure we get a lovely mix of folks in our crew.
On that last note, seriously, join us! We’ve got a few jobs on our site at the moment so if you’re a cool guy or gal looking to join our slightly cult-ish but adorable little family, drop us a line!
This goes for people wanting to partner with us on their next project too – we’re always striving to do work that makes a difference, not just a profit.