A Letter From Our Founder and CCO in Honour of International Women’s Day
Being a female leader is truly one of the biggest honours that I’ve had in my career. Working with amazing female collaborators has not only been super inspiring, it also feels like the future. When I started Digital 55, it wasn’t with a female-centric agenda in mind but organically, a group of amazing women came together to create the most innovative, creative, badass team that I could have ever imagined. And this has now become a very vital part of Digital 55’s DNA.
But then some experiences on projects started to crop up and repeat themselves: ideas would be dismissed only to be repackaged later by someone else (ps: this is not collaboration), important and expert systems would be outright ignored, and the importance of formal business contracts, the foundation of any startup, would be diminished or disregarded.
With all the challenges that come with running a business, there are things that you can foresee and prepare for, like your cash flow, your growth strategy, or your operations. But how do you ensure your talented and predominantly female team is being seen, validated, and respected for their expertise? This has emerged as a surprising & heartbreaking challenge.
At Digital 55, we really pride ourselves in creating inclusive collaboration and safe spaces. But we’ve also had to recognize that this safe space doesn’t necessarily extend into a potential client’s work culture. The values that we strive to put into practice aren’t always reciprocated with the same commitment.
It’s hard for me to experience this myself but also now, for the team, it changes the game. More to the point, it changes the way I approach leadership. This is still a work in progress for me; learning how to become the type of advocate my team needs while keeping an eye to business objectives and project milestones is a daily consideration. I’ve learned it’s not just about supporting your team to withstand these pressures but taking the lead to call out these practices and refusing to normalize this as “business as usual”.
It is my hope that these ongoing efforts will contribute to a shift within the larger work culture where everyone is seen for their talents and skills, where the work speaks for itself and everyone can collaborate and feel a sense of belonging.
I am thankful for the women who have forged the path for other women in business and continue to inspire me every day. Women like Hillary Clinton, who came so close to becoming the United States’ first female president, or Ruth Bader Ginsberg, that Supreme Court Justice who refuses to quit, or Melinda Gates, the most powerful woman in philanthropy. Without these women, we wouldn’t have come as far as we have, and I’m determined to honour their legacy by continuing to fight for the same respect men receive and by changing the game—forever.
On this International Women’s Day, I hope you take inspiration from the following quote to never give up:
“When you stumble, keep faith. And when you’re knocked down, get right back up, and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”
- Hillary Clinton