In honor of Women’s History Month, you’ve probably seen a lot of companies highlighting the accomplishments of their female employees. While we fully support the achievements of these women, we’ll just come out and say it: it's tiring to always have our gender be the focus.
Nearly 40% of our leadership team is women, including our CEO, Rachel Carpenter. This has occasionally made us stand out to companies that have set a goal to include more female-owned businesses in their supply chain. Are these kinds of programs harmful? Not at all, but here’s what it sounds like when you’re a woman-owned business: “You’re the best company for this task...that’s run by a woman.”
Don’t work with us because we’re a woman-run company. Work with us because our team is smart. Work with us because we have better technology than all our competitors. Work with us because our support is top-notch, because our data quality is excellent, because we’re constantly innovating and thinking about what’s next. Plenty of other businesses do.
When asked recently about working in a male-dominated field, Carpenter’s advice was:
“Try not think about it. The more we get in our heads, thinking that we’re the only woman in the room, or that we’re a female entrepreneur, a female CEO...that’s not what you should be thinking about. That’s just going to distract you and make you nervous.
I got to the point really quickly in the beginning of my journey where I didn’t think about it anymore. I would all of a sudden, halfway through the pitch, look around and go ‘Oh! I’m the only woman here. Interesting.’ Or meet with a customer and experience the same thing. You go days, weeks without thinking about it, and that’s the sweet spot. That’s where you want to get. Because you exude confidence, you’re not second-guessing yourself, you’re not worrying about it.
For example, when I speak at a panel, if they title the panel ‘Female Entrepreneurs’ or ‘Female Founders,’ I try to encourage them to take the word ‘female’ out. It puts us in a box, a little bit. Maybe there’s a younger girl in the audience who’s watching. Now, all she’s thinking about is, ‘Oh, I’m a female scientist. I’m a female business owner.’ When in fact, she’s just a scientist, she’s just a business owner. If she can see a world where she just naturally fits into the scientist category, without having to label it, I think that’s going to be a much healthier place.”
We’re proud to have women in leadership positions. We’d just rather not have the asterisk next to our name that says we’re great...for a female-run company.
And we hope that one day, female leaders will be so common that no one cares.