We would like to start with a short introduction.
Delphine Remy-Boutang began her career at Euro RSCG Paris. She moved to London in 1997 to join IBM as Marketing Director, then EMEA Communications Director, and became Social Media Worldwide Director from 2006 till 2012.
In 2012, she founded in London and in Paris, a strategic communications group: the Bureau. At the same time, Delphine launched JFD (Journée de la Femme Digitale/Digital Women’s Day), the growth accelerator for women in tech in Europe and Africa.
An expert on the subjects of transformation, female entrepreneurship and the place of women in tech, Delphine was promoted to the rank of Chevalier in the National Order of the Legion of Honour in 2016. She is listed in Forbes USA magazine’s 2018 ranking of women who are disrupting the digital sector in France. Delphine is also an Angel Investor and has a 100% tech, 100% women investment thesis.
Could you describe your network in a few words?
Founded in 2012 by Delphine Remy-Boutang, JFD mobilises public, private and media players in Europe, Africa and since 2023 also in Canada, around three priority areas: education, role models/empowerment and funding.
JFD’s mission is to increase the representation of women in the tech industry and to help a new generation of leaders to emerge. Over the past 10 years, JFD has become more than just an annual event: it has become an international growth accelerator for women taking bold technological challenges and betting on disruptive innovations to change the world.
It is also a think tank that provides concrete responses to the findings of its annual studies: the Margaret Awards, the Margaret Foundation, the JFD Club, the White Shirt Movement, the JFD Manifesto for an Inclusive Digital World and the book “Women who change the world”.
In figures, JFD is more than 10,000 talented people trained, 15 million people reached internationally and more than 800 tech start-ups accelerated in Europe and Africa.
Could you give us some facts and figures, or a description of the status-quo related to the situation of gender equality in your network? What are the challenges encountered?
The technological transformations of recent decades have been seen through the eyes of white men with similar educational backgrounds and social origins. A single vision is dangerous for our economy.
Today, we know that by giving women every opportunity to succeed, we are creating more jobs and more value for our economy.
In fact, more and more women are taking action to meet the environmental and societal challenges we face thanks to tech. According to our 11th annual JFD “Invest in Her” study, while 27% of impact start-ups have been founded or co-founded by women, this figure rises to 34% for start-ups less than 5 years old.
Impact is a high-potential segment, particularly attractive to investors, but financing often remains a major challenge for these women entrepreneurs, who are crucial to creating a better world.
Back in 2016, the European Investment Bank estimated that the financing gap between men and women resulted in an overall loss of around 370 billion euros for the economy, or 2.8% of the EU’s annual GDP.
What levers do you see possible to address these challenges or to improve the situation you just described? Where do you see (women) networks playing a role in the process?
A double shock is needed – societal and legislative – to create equal opportunity. We should direct more investment towards women entrepreneurs who are paving the way for the future by providing technological solutions to help our societies and the environment. I recommend 3 concrete actions:
- A funding cap for companies that do not have a female co-founder?
- Investment funds will have to require parity on the board if they are financing a company worth more than €1 million.
- Set up an international observatory on tech companies founded by women.
Our network is able to break the stereotypes, work with investors, educate and guide them to be more inclusive. At the same time, we help the government in their gender equality policy in tech, with game changing initiatives.
On 8 March 2023, we organised at the Ministry of Economy in France, a matchmaking between 100+ women founders and investors. Tired of hearing investors tell us that women receive less funding because they are less present. We were proud to direct investment towards a hundred or so women entrepreneurs in just 2 hours. To do so we have joined forces with other networks like France Digitale (a startup network), Femmes Business Angels (Women Business Angels), Leia Capital (a collective of women investors), etc.
Do companies in your network face recruitment difficulties? Would you say that efforts to create (more) gender equality lead to solutions to overcome these difficulties and why?
Within my network and the companies I engage with, recruitment difficulties are indeed a common challenge. The tech industry, in particular, faces a shortage of skilled professionals, which makes it even more challenging to attract and hire top talent.
In this context, gender mainstreaming and gender equality approaches can indeed offer a solution to overcome these recruitment difficulties:
- Tapping into a larger talent pool: By promoting gender equality and creating an inclusive environment, companies open themselves up to a larger pool of qualified candidates. Breaking down gender barriers and biases in the recruitment process allows companies to access a broader range of skills, experiences, and perspectives. This can ultimately lead to finding the best-suited individuals for the job.
- Enhancing company reputation and employer branding: Embracing gender equality sends a strong message to both current and potential employees. It demonstrates that a company values diversity, equal opportunities, and inclusivity. Such a reputation can make an organisation more attractive to candidates, especially those who prioritise working in an environment that values and supports gender equality.
- Fostering innovation and creativity: Gender diversity within teams has been shown to drive innovation and creativity. When diverse individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives come together, they bring unique insights and approaches to problem-solving. This can lead to more innovative solutions and a competitive edge in the market.
- Retaining top talent: Gender mainstreaming not only helps in attracting talent but also in retaining it. Creating an inclusive and supportive work environment where everyone feels valued and empowered leads to higher employee satisfaction and engagement. When employees feel that they can grow and thrive within an organization, they are more likely to stay long-term, reducing turnover rates and the associated costs.
It is important to note that gender mainstreaming should not be seen as a quick fix to recruitment difficulties. It requires a comprehensive approach that addresses biases, offers equal opportunities for career growth and development, and ensures a supportive work environment for all employees.
At JFD, we firmly believe that diversity and gender equality are key drivers of success in the digital world. By actively promoting these principles, companies can overcome recruitment difficulties, unlock new sources of talent, and create a more inclusive and innovative workforce.
Do you think that companies of your network are aware of gender equality rules? If so, do they know how to comply with these rules? What could be helpful (trainings, webinars, a reference person in the company, other measures)?
Gender equality has gained significant attention in recent years, and companies in my network are increasingly aware of the importance of adhering to gender equality rules. However, it is important to note that awareness levels and understanding of how to comply with these rules can vary among organisations.
While some companies have proactively taken steps to implement gender equality measures, others may still be in the early stages of developing their understanding and processes. That said, there is a growing recognition that creating an inclusive and gender-equal workplace is not just a legal obligation, but also a strategic advantage.
To support companies in their journey towards gender equality compliance, a range of resources and initiatives can be helpful:
- Training and education: Conducting training sessions and workshops on gender equality can raise awareness and provide employees with the knowledge and skills needed to foster an inclusive work environment. These sessions can cover topics such as unconscious bias, gender stereotypes, and inclusive leadership.
- Webinars and online resources: Offering webinars and providing access to online resources, such as guidelines, toolkits, and best practices, can be valuable in helping companies navigate gender equality rules and implement effective measures. These resources can be easily accessible and offer practical advice tailored to specific industries or organisational contexts.
- Dedicated internal resources: Appointing a reference person or a team within the company who specialises in gender equality and can provide guidance and support. This individual or team can serve as a point of contact for employees, address their concerns, and ensure compliance with gender equality rules. They can also play a crucial role in driving organisational change and fostering a gender-inclusive culture.
- Collaboration and sharing of best practices: Encouraging companies to collaborate and share their experiences, challenges, and successes can be immensely beneficial. Platforms like conferences, forums, or industry networks, such as JFD, can facilitate such collaborations, allowing companies to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and collectively work towards gender equality.
It is important to note that achieving gender equality requires a holistic approach, involving not just compliance with rules but also a commitment to cultural and systemic change. Companies should strive for an inclusive environment where gender equality is embedded in their values, policies, and practices.
At JFD, we are committed to supporting companies in their journey towards gender equality. Through our initiatives, events, and collaborations, we aim to provide resources, knowledge-sharing platforms, and opportunities for companies to learn, network, and collectively work towards creating more gender-inclusive workplaces.
Within the JFD Club, our network of women and men in tech, we have +500 members: business leaders (start-ups, SMEs, ETIs, CAC40s), media and public players (government, regional council, MPs, etc.). The JFD Club responds to the needs of women in tech by giving them the opportunity to meet and share experiences, a source of value and job creation. We offer our members regular meetings to boost their projects and businesses. We organise exclusive events throughout the year. Renowned personalities are invited to each meeting to network, exchange ideas, share experiences and generate growth.
Would you say working on gender mainstreaming can bring solutions to other challenges you observe (retaining female human resources in organisations by addressing issues such as equality in wages, work-life balance, fight against sexist acts, populating rural areas, etc.)?
Absolutely, working on gender mainstreaming can bring solutions to various challengesthat organisations face.
Gender mainstreaming creates an inclusive and supportive work environment where women feel valued and have equal opportunities for growth and development. By addressing issues such as gender biases, promoting equal opportunities for advancement, and fostering a culture of inclusivity, organisations can improve retention rates of female employees. When women feel supported and empowered, they are more likely to stay with the organization long-term, contributing to its success.
Besides, by conducting gender pay audits, identifying and rectifying wage disparities, and implementing transparent salary structures, organisations can promote fairness and eliminate gender-based wage inequalities. Ensuring that women are compensated equally not only contributes to their retention but also enhances overall employee satisfaction and trust.
Also, creating policies and practices to support work-life balance for all employees is needed, including flexible work arrangements, parental leave policies, and supportive childcare options. By implementing these measures, we can support both women and men in balancing their professional and personal responsibilities. This contributes to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and improved overall well-being, ultimately aiding in employee retention.
Gender mainstreaming can play a role in addressing the challenge of populating rural areas by creating opportunities and support systems for women. This includes providing access to education and training, promoting entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, and offering mentorship and networking programs. By empowering women in rural areas and addressing their unique needs, we can contribute to the growth and development of these communities.
Could you please describe why gender equality is important for you personally and/or for your network?
Gender equality is of utmost importance to me personally and JFD, for several compelling reasons.
First, for social justice and fairness! It is about ensuring that every individual, regardless of their gender, has equal rights, opportunities, and access to resources. Personally, I strongly believe in the inherent value and dignity of every person, and gender equality is a crucial aspect of upholding those values.
When women have equal opportunities to thrive and succeed, it benefits not only them but also society as a whole. It brings diverse perspectives, creativity, and innovation to organizations, leading to better decision-making and improved outcomes.
Moreover, I think that gender equality is closely linked to economic growth and sustainability. Numerous studies have shown that gender equality has positive effects on economies, leading to increased productivity, innovation, and competitiveness. By ensuring that women have equal access to education, employment, and entrepreneurship, we can unlock their economic potential and drive sustainable development.
For JFD, gender equality in tech is at the core of our mission. We are dedicated to empowering women in the digital and tech fields, promoting their visibility, and advocating for equal opportunities. We believe that achieving gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but also essential for creating a more prosperous, innovative, and sustainable future for all.
How would you describe the added value being a woman leading a network in the digital world? What are your challenges but also the opportunities being a woman leader? What is the perspective of a woman enabling change?
Being a woman leading a network in the digital world brings unique added value and perspectives to the table. As a woman leader, I serve as a role model and source of inspiration for other women aspiring to succeed in the digital world. Seeing a woman in a leadership position can be empowering and encourage other women to pursue their ambitions, challenge gender norms, and break barriers. By leading by example, I aim to inspire and support other women to achieve their full potential.
Women bring diverse perspectives and experiences to leadership roles, which is crucial in the digital world where innovation thrives on different viewpoints. I can contribute with a unique lens to decision-making processes, ensuring that a wide range of voices are heard and considered. This diversity of perspectives fosters creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, leading to more well-rounded and effective outcomes.
Women leaders often bring a strong sense of empathy, emotional intelligence, and collaborative leadership styles. These qualities enable me to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment, where everyone feels valued and empowered. By cultivating a culture of collaboration and inclusivity, we can harness the collective intelligence and potential of our teams, enabling them to thrive and drive meaningful change.
However, being a woman leader also comes with its challenges. We may face biases and stereotypes that can undermine our credibility or lead to unfair expectations. Overcoming these biases requires resilience, self-confidence, and a continuous commitment to prove one’s capabilities.
Women are also still underrepresented in leadership roles in the digital world. This can result in a lack of diverse perspectives at decision-making tables and create barriers to advancement. Breaking through these barriers requires determination and actively advocating for equal opportunities.
I firmly believe that diverse leadership, including women, is essential for driving innovation, fostering inclusive cultures, and shaping a future where everyone can reach their full potential, regardless of gender.
What would be your closing word as a message on advancing gender equality approaches in companies and/or)networks?
Let us Join Forces and Dare to advance gender equality and create a more inclusive and equitable future for all. Gender equality is a catalyst for positive change and sustainable development. By prioritizing gender equality in our organisations, networks, public authorities, and governments, we can unlock the full potential of women, drive innovation, and create thriving environments where everyone can succeed.
I encourage companies to embrace gender mainstreaming, adopt inclusive policies, and foster diverse and inclusive work environments. Women’s networks play a vital role in providing support, mentorship, and a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
Public authorities and governments have the responsibility to implement policies that promote gender equality, enforce legislation against discrimination, and encourage equal representation in decision-making bodies. By prioritising gender equality, we can create laws and regulations that support the advancement of women and address the structural barriers that hold them back.
I invite you to join us in this collective journey. Let us work hand in hand, break down barriers, and champion gender equality at every level. Together, we can create a future where gender equality is not just an aspiration, but a reality for all.