Happy International Women’s Day – March 8 2022
International Women’s Day – March 8 2022 – #BreakTheBias.
On International Women’s Day 2022, we talk to our CEO Sonia Houghton about the challenges she has faced as a woman in her career, and as a female CEO.
“Before I give my experiences as a professional woman, I think it is important to take a step back and acknowledge that International Women’s Day is part of a wider movement towards a world that is free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination. Where diversity, equality and inclusion are valued, nutured and celebrated.
Whilst obviously I am fully supportive of #BreakTheBias, it is a shame that in this day and age, we are still campaigning for simple equality, over 100 years since the suffragettes. Likewise, it’s important to remember that this struggle sits alongside those of the LGBT+ community, and those who face racial, religious, disability and age discrimination.
Personally speaking, I have faced discrimination over the years; whether it was because I am a blonde, bubbly Northern lass, or of childbearing age, and the message hasn’t always been delivered in the most diplomatic or subtle of ways.
However, as a female CEO and co-founder of Cryoniss, the impact of gender inequality can be even greater. At the end of last year, we successfully raised as a team £500,000 of private equity funding from Maven Capital (NPIF funding). This is a great success story for our entire team, which will enable us to expedite our growth plans and provide further support to our customers.
However, it was highlighted in a report that our success story is not reflected across the industry, with VC funding frequently being given primarily to all-male teams, as outlined in the excerpt below.
“The report found that a large majority (68.33%) of the capital raised across the seed, early and late VC funding stages went to all-male teams; 28.80% to mixed gender teams; and just 2.87% to all-female teams, with female teams also raising lower sums of money than their male counterparts at each funding stage.”
UK report spotlights the huge investment gap facing diverse founders | TechCrunch
We are particularly appreciative to not have experienced this bias ourselves and are grateful to our progressive and supportive investors!
Such progressive attitudes haven’t always been the case. In the early days of founding Cryoniss, there were occasions where people would automatically assume my co-founder, our Chief Operating Officer Phil, was my boss. Fortunately, life experience has made me suitably confident in my own abilities to the extent that it doesn’t faze me. However, I do reflect on those situations and consider how they may impact other women who aren’t as resilient. It’s quite common for both men and women to suffer imposter syndrome, and biased assumptions like these can only exacerbate these fears.
I am acutely aware that the success of Cryoniss will be delivered by our team. And numerous famous studies (Unwin, Ozbilgin etc) have shown that diverse teams are more successful, with the Wall Street Journal loudly and proudly proclaiming ‘Diverse and inclusive cultures are providing companies with a competitive edge over their peers’. But we all know it’s not enough to pay lip service.
Peter Unwin: Whitehall has come a long way on diversity – but there is a dearth of minority ethnic or disabled leaders (civilserviceworld.com)
Managing Diversity and Inclusion in the Global Value Chain by Mustafa Ozbilgin :: SSRN
How diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) matter | McKinsey
The culture of Cryoniss is rooted in equality and equitability. We’ve built respect and dignity into the core of our systems, developing a Respect policy that protects the right and characteristics of all, and appointing a People and Processes manager whose key responsibility is to defend that culture and call us all out, from CEO to suppliers to directors, should we, in the heat of the moment or under pressure from external forces, deviate from our central beliefs.
Break the Bias is a fantastic message, especially for younger women and girls who might want to have a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) for which bias is a barrier to entry. Encouraging women into STEM is a huge driving force behind the culture we want to create here at Cryoniss.
We strive to build an environment where employees are free from discrimination, which is equality focussed and promotes flexible working so that employees are empowered to do good work without being micromanaged.
International Women’s Day is of course a chance to applaud the amazing women around the world who are changing lives for the better. As I say, in 2022 the fact that women and girls face gender inequality is a sad situation. We’ve come a long way, however, we have further to travel before we achieve true gender equality.
Reiterating this, my colleague, Olivia Turner’s recent blog, for International Day of Women and Girls in Science, exploring some of the most remarkable women in scientific history, whose work contributed to some of the most significant discoveries in recent history, and yet who remain almost forgotten and uncredited.
Obviously, opportunities and prospects for women and girls across much, but not all of the globe, have significantly improved in modern times, though it is still essential that we strive to facilitate an equal environment for everyone to access and enjoy science.
I for one just look forward to the day when I’m no longer referred to as a “Woman CEO” and just the CEO of Cryoniss.
Happy International Women’s Day 2022, #BreakTheBias”