empowering junior women in the workplace featured

How to empower junior women within your business

empowering junior women in the workplace

Veronique Barbosa is the Co-Founder and COO of Flux, a digital receipts and rewards platform that lives inside your banking app and is currently partnered with the likes of Just Eat, KFC, itsu, and EAT.

For women in business, it’s no secret that getting ahead can be a challenge (to say the least).

Just one in five of Britain’s six million businesses is run by a woman.

Only 32 per cent of directorships on FTSE 100 boards are held by women.

And across the top ranking companies globally, only 18 per cent have a female leader – a figure that’s barely shifted in the last few years.

When it comes to women working in the technology sector, specifically, it’s the same story – or rather depressingly, a little worse. Currently, just 17 per cent of people working in tech are women.

Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s my firm belief that if we are to tackle and finally overcome the issue of gender equality in the workplace, empowering junior women is a huge part of the puzzle.

In my career to date – both as COO and co-founder of Flux, and prior to that as Head of Partnerships at Revolut – I’ve been lucky enough to have hired and managed many talented and inspirational women. Here are three things I’ve learnt along the way about how best to empower junior women within your business.

Recognising the barriers

It might sound counterintuitive, but the first step to overcoming the barriers for women in business, is to recognise those barriers. It’s the job of managers and senior leaders within business to acknowledge the challenges facing women, and seek to understand them: where do these barriers stem from? How are they perpetrated? How much of the problem is in deep-rooted bias (a sub-conscious preference shown towards male candidates at interview, for instance), and how much is down to practical systems in place within your business (such as flexible working policies or maternity and paternity leave)?

Once you can answer some of these questions – even if only in part – you are one step closer to being able to break down the biases and address the problems.

Champion change

Secondly, communication plays a vital role. When it comes to business leaders and business founders, there is plenty of data to back up the suggestion that women hold themselves back. In a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group survey, female respondents cited social expectations and gender stereotypes as some of the reasons preventing them from applying for a new position or a promotion.

Meanwhile, data from the Young Women’s Trust found that 54% of women aged 18-30 said they lack self-confidence when it comes to applying for jobs, compared to 39% of men.

Empowering junior women in business starts with getting them through the door in the first place, and that means championing the opportunities that are there. It starts in the education system, but doesn’t stop there; young women need to be made aware firstly that the opportunities are available to them, and secondly equipped with the confidence to apply for them.

Mentoring

Finally, I urge all business leaders to consider introducing mentoring initiatives within their business. These needn’t be directed solely at female employees – after all, we can all benefit from some guidance in our career – but what I would say is that these initiatives should be tailored, and accessible to all. For young women who are starting out in their career, there is huge value in having visible female role models, who have trodden a similar path and can share their own experiences of overcoming certain challenges.

Of course, depending on the size of a business, frequent and readily available mentoring isn’t always a possibility, so I also point my team in the direction of the many useful resources available in literature and online. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a book I often turn to, and I’m also a regular listener to the Girl Boss podcast.

I am very thankful for the growing community of women who are committed to lifting each other up. Whatever stage of career we’re at, we can all benefit from seeing and sharing relatable, real-life success stories. We might have a way to go, but we’re making unprecedented progress: let’s celebrate that.


Inspirational Woman: Veronique Barbosa | Co-founder & COO, Flux

Veronique BarbosaVeronique Barbosa is co-founder and COO of Flux, the bank-linked receipts platform.

Veronique was listed as one of Forbes 30 under 30 Europe in 2018.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m the Co-Founder and COO of Flux, a digital receipts and rewards platform working with the likes of Just Eat, KFC and Barclays with many more to come soon. We’re solving the problem that in 2019 we have no way as customers to easily track what we buy, we can see the payment but not what we buy. A bit more about me I’m Brazilian, French and American but consider London to be home. Before Flux, I was employee #4 at Revolut and headed up partnerships with a focus on driving user acquisition. I helped take the company to 400,000 users before setting out to start Flux. I was also an investment banker in my previous life at Morgan Stanley in London for several years and very honoured to be named Forbes 30 under 30 in 2018.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Depends how you define career, I’ve never planned the entirety of my career but I have followed some advice given to me a while ago to plan your career like the Chinese plan their economy in five years stints. I’ve found that super helpful and way less overwhelming than thinking about “the rest of your career”.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Oh definitely! I whole heartedly believe success is defined by how you handle failure/challenges. It’s part of the life of a startup and fortunately/unfortunately the norm. I think realising it’s how you deal with the obstacles is actually the definition of ultimately how you succeed was key to overcoming those moments.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Deciding to join Matty and Tom to start up Flux!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I always hesitate when success is attributed to where we are now, it still feels early in our journey to claim that word. A major factor of getting to where we are today has been perseverance.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Solve problems from their core elements and break them down to bite size chunks. My cofounder always says there’s only one way to eat a white whale and that’s one piece at a time.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes depending on the company culture and sector I think there can be. That’s a very tough question and one many women have tried to address! This will sound controversial but I think the first steps is recognising those barriers, understanding them and then working around them is the first step to get to your goals. The next step is working to break down those barriers but so many of them are deep rooted in sub conscious bias of others that it’s a much longer term path.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Encourage and enable flexible working for future parents, not just women, and nip any biases that creep up right in the bud. Shining a light on the incredible diversity you already have in house is also a big plus.

There is currently on 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If I could wave a magic wand I’d make sure that 70 per cent of computer science classrooms at universities around the world would have women in them. The lack of women in software engineering is really shocking. We’ve come a long way when it comes to business roles in tech but have so far to go in engineering.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In and the Girlposs podcast/instagram.