To celebrate International Women's Day we spoke to the Kip&Co founders Kate, Hayley and Alex, about their experience in the industry, advice they have for women at the start of their career and this years theme #breakthebias.
1. How do you empower women in the workplace?
When we started Kip&Co, it wasn’t about making a pile of cash - it was about the possibilities and opportunities that would come from working with your best girlfriends - a bull sh*t free conversation that was creative, innovative, fun, ambitious - doubt, scepticism and ego were left at the door. This was a space where success could look like whatever we wanted it to - it was liberating. Those ideas have gone on to be the foundation of our team culture as the business has grown. We’ve worked hard to build a culture that celebrates the unique female energy - where collaboration is celebrated over hierarchy, where there are strong, smart and visible female leaders. As we’ve grown, we’ve promoted women from within the organisation, and appointed incredible female leaders to our most senior roles. The future is most definitely female at Kip&Co.
2. What biases and challenges have you experienced in your working career?
In our two+ decades of working, we’ve all experienced discrimination. In many of the organisations we worked in, there was a lack of women in leadership positions (even in industries that were heavily dominated by women), or the new women that had fought tooth and nail to get to the top had shaped their leadership style on the men around them, attempting to blend in rather than celebrate the difference. There were experiences where male colleagues with the same or less experience were paid more or promoted faster. The casual expectations that as females we would be the ones to take the notes, organise the cake, get the coffee, plan the office party. More than once when I got a promotion I was told by male colleagues it was because the boss liked how I looked. All of that percolates in your mind, makes you angry. Until finally you realise the only way to get out of the system is to create your own system. And that’s Kip&Co.
3. Where is there room for growth?
I think the room for growth at Kip&Co is really around diversity more broadly, it’s something we are very focused on right now and working on our diversity policy that will touch all parts of our business.
4. Who are your role models?
Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner hired Alex for her first ever job, and was an incredible role model in that business at a formative time in my professional development. Grace Tame has lit a fire in us all to have more transparent and difficult conversations about the social structures that have allowed for the sexual assault of children.
5. What advice would you give women entrepreneurs starting out in the industry?
Our advice to all founders is just to give it a go. It might not sound like very profound advice, but the biggest hurdle is getting started. Know there’s no perfect timing to start - Alex kept working full time while Kip&Co got started, whereas Kate and Hays managed those formative years around young kids. Oh and find a great business! Ours was a partnership based on very clear shared values, but importantly our skill set complements each other.
6. How are you celebrating IWD this year?
Working with amazing women, and digesting all the incredible podcasts, speeches, articles and art that is celebrated on this day.