Alanna Bastin-Byrne is a director and co-founder of the for profit social enterprise Femecomony. Since launching in September, 2017, Femeconomy, has helped mobilise the female economy through collaboration. Here, Alanna talks to Women Love Tech about how her company is helping women in business and the impact it has had on supporting a network of female leaders. She also explains why we need more women in STEM.
What inspired you to set up Femeconomy ?
My business partner, and sister-in-law, Jade Collins had the Femeconomy brainwave. Jade worked for 18 years as a HR Executive in Mining, Aerospace and Energy Industries and was frustrated at the slow rate of change, resistance and blatant disinterest in selecting or promoting women into senior leadership roles.
She was in a taxi on a work trip in Melbourne, when she read the statistic that women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions. She wondered why women weren’t using this incredible economic lever to further gender equality? Surely someone in the world was?
Jade became obsessed. Her spare time passion became pursuing the idea of identifying which brands and companies had women leaders, so she could inform and encourage people to push their consumer spend towards those companies.
Jade then asked me to join her as her business partner because I have an international marketing and community development background. After talking through some of the issues I saw with us being sisters-in-law, I was in! She is an absolute dream business partner and we are incredibly honest with each other. No workplace politics! Joy!
How can women in business benefit from signing up to Femeconomy?
Our most valued benefit is providing personalised pathways and connections to our Platinum members. We seek to understand the female leaders’ journey and also what she would like the business to achieve over the next 12 months.
What have been some of your success stories and personally, your proudest achievements?
Attracting an engaged and diverse community of female-led companies to trade with and support each other and ensuring their businesses are sustainable by promoting them across our network. Femeconomy has introduced businesses to government grant and tender programs, made introductions to help them win corporate and not-for-profit clients and is driving social impact through increasing women’s economic security and workforce participation.
Femeconomy’s membership base generates billions of dollars worth of revenue and represents businesses of all shapes and sizes from entrepreneurs to corporate employers. This membership base is actively engaged in accelerating gender equality and female leadership. Femeconomy is the connector to help businesses collaborate to advance gender equality.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
In our first three months we realised the business model wasn’t working, so we changed it to see what the market would respond to. Challenges arise constantly, but being in control of how you respond is rewarding and addictive when you are running your own business. I think everyone would benefit starting and running their own business for a year. I think it would make for more engaged and intrapreneurial employees.
How has technology changed the story for women in business? Are there more opportunities?
Yes. I think there are more opportunities. I live in a regional area, work remotely from my business partner, have built an engaged online community and Femeconomy is award-winning. This would not have been possible a decade ago. However, I think there is also far more clutter in this digital world. It is hard for businesses to navigate and build a brand. It can also be very distracting from focussing on what is important and strategic.
More women are needed in STEM. How can we encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM?
In Iran, 50% of engineers are women. It is important to be aware that Australia has one of the most gender segregated workforces in the world. Culturally we believe there are jobs for men and jobs for women. So, changing our mindset and challenging our unconscious bias starts at an individual level and can have an enormous impact on children. Children form their gender views before five years of age. I know there are many amazing people changing systems and structures within organisations to make them more inclusive, however I always like to think about what impact I can have as a parent.
Below are some of the activities I do with my children to encourage STEM:
- Playing lego
- Taking trips to Museums
- Watching nature documentaries with the children
- Cooking with them
- Playing keyboard together
- Praising the process not the achievements
- Letting them take risks and conduct experiments
What are your three favourite apps and why?
Beacon by Wandersafe founded by Stephenie Rodriguez. The app has data loaded from Crime Stoppers International and connects to a device. It warns you when you are heading to an unsafe area anywhere on the globe and helps solo travellers stay safe.
Plann Instagram app founded by Christy Laurence. Because I am not very good at Instagram – Christy shares great tips and saves me time. She has also built a fantastic loyal following across the globe. It is great to see Australian female tech founders succeed.
Wanngi by Maree Beare. Wanngi connects all your wellness wearables to your app, along with your health management like recording symptoms and medical records for you and your family.
Your top three favourite quotes
Here are three quotes from women in our community that I love:
Clarity Simplicity Success Author, Jacqui Alder said, “It’s not how you look at others which matters, it is how you look at yourself.”
A Human Agency (a-ha!) Director, Katriina Takha, “Why is it that when you say ‘biodiversity’ everyone thinks of coral, starfish, seaweed, beehives and complex natural systems that are highly vulnerable and dependent on one another; yet, when you say diversity in relation to humans we think ‘difference’.”
Genergy Australia Managing Director, Brooke MacGregor and Platinum Electricians Morningside Director, Tammy Stanton said, “We all have so much potential to influence the female agenda every day, whether it is at work or at home. Never doubt your power.”
Discover more about Femeconomy here: https://femeconomy.com/about/