LIISBETH DISPATCH #56

How women-led startups succeed when VC fails, how we can build a better future for all, and Canada’s global women’s equality fund

LiisBeth meets Jane’s Walk Toronto, September 29, 2019

 

WHAT WE’RE THINKING ABOUT

In the wake of an uninspiring Canadian election full of name-calling and finger-pointing, the good news is 11.3 million or 63 percent of Canadians DID NOT vote for the regressive, conservative agenda. Still, our newly re-elected, feminist leader (of a minority government) would be wise to find common ground with the NDP, the Greens, and the Bloc because…aren’t we working toward the same thing? Kosisochukwu Nnebe thinks so. Meanwhile, UN Women is running the #flexforempowerment campaign to accelerate women’s economic empowerment that will ideally—one would hope—inspire others to do the same. But hope is not a plan. So in uninspiring times, flex. Show your principles. Take your leaders to taskJoin a volleyball team to stay sane. Also, question the dominant narrative. Do we really need VC funding to grow our businesses? At the very least, take a break and read this newsletter.

NEW FEATURES ON LIISBETH

Kosisochukwu Nnebe, policy analyst and visual artist

HOW CAN WE COLLECTIVELY BUILD A BETTER FUTURE FOR ALL?

One young witness draws on lessons from the past, the present and the personal. Read her story here.

Kristi Herold, Founder and CEO, Sport & Social Club

SHE SCORES!

Kristi Herolds seized on the gap in recreational sport for adults as an opportunity to launch her own company. Years later, Herold is the CEO of one of North America’s largest, most inclusive sport and social clubs by focusing on one goal: making sport accessible for everyone. But it didn’t happen overnight…or easily. Find out more in this story.

“I used to get dejected about the fact that I couldn’t raise capital as a sole female founder without a pedigree,” says Christina Stembel. “But we’ve grown to 30 million in annual revenue with 50 percent or more growth year-over-year.”

FORGING A PATH OF HER OWN

Haven’t raised any of that magical over-hyped venture funding?  Don’t despair! Newly released Babson study “Beyond the Bucks: Growth Strategies of Successful Entrepreneurs” shows how women-led startups succeed when VC funding fails. Find out how Stembel woman forged a path of her own.

 PK’s VIEWPOINT

Image Source: Rabble.ca  Photo by Duncan Cameron

FROM FEMINIST LEADERS TO FEMINIST LEADERSHIP: WHAT CANADA NEEDS NOW 

Can Canada’s newly elected progressive leaders move from identifying as feminist to leading like a feminist?  Why should they? What does that even mean? Read this month’s Viewpoint here.

LIISBETH FIELD NOTES

LEADERS WITH THEIR HEADS IN THE CLOUDS

Photo by Daniel Lepôt
58-person formation skydive takes several elements to make it a success. The event needs good weather, collaborative and competent skydivers, aircraft to hold all the jumpers, a drop zone with staff and space to handle the organization of a large group, and leadership.

In this scenario, there was one lead organizer, three plane captains, and three pilots. The aircraft not seen in the photo above, is the lead plane. The grey Skyvan on the right is the right trail plane. The blue and white Twin Otter further back and to the left is the left trail plane. All three pilots are communicating with each other via radio. The planes are flying to a predetermined altitude dictated by the location of the drop zone and the wind. It’s vital the pilots have constant communication because they need to stay close, but not too close.

The pilot in the lead plane is, as you might suspect, the lead pilot. The lead organizer of the skydive is in the lead plane and trusts the pilots are doing their jobs. But he is also double-checking the direction of flight and watching the proximity of the trail planes. He also trusts that the two plane captains in each of the two trail planes are doing their jobs: taking charge of the 18 or so skydivers in each aircraft. And he trusts that the skydivers will be responsible for doing their jobs: staying calm on the way to altitude, visualizing a successful jump, looking out for the safety of their teammates, flying their slot in the formation.

In brief, it takes a solid plan. And a leader who people want to collaborate with.

But it is the power of the collective that allows for incredible achievements. Collaboration and trust is key and when everyone is disciplined, focused, and working together, the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

Jenna and Kayla Spagnoli

MEET THE FEMINIST TWINS!

Fraternal twins Jenna and Kayla believed there was a need for more feminist social justice-inspired community events to bring more people into the larger conversation about what feminism truly means. So they created Feminist Twins, an Ottawa-based side hustle venture which includes an annual Feminist Fair. And wow has it grown. The fair alone has expanded from just six vendors in 2013 to over 44 this year. Last year they had over 1000 visitors.

Essentially, this grassroots event provides space for women (defined to include gender nonbinary and trans women) to showcase their side hustles in community with others—versus relying just on transaction-centered, impersonal online platforms like Etsy to sell their creations. Two thirds of funds collected at the door are donated to a different local charity. The community votes on the recipient each year. Over $3,100 was raised in 2017. This year’s proceeds will be donated to the Sexual Assault Support Centre in Ottawa and any toiletries collected will be donated to Street Team Outreach Mobile (STORM) of Minwaashin Lodge, where both Jenna and Kayla also work.

The fair has no set door price, is physically accessible for all, offers complimentary on-site childminding, plus free vegan pizza for attendees and vendors. Jenna and Kayla still, at this point, donate their time to keep overhead costs low. This year Jenna and Kayla will be launching their own locally made, ethical merchandise line at the event. They are pleased that larger enterprises like Evolve Eyewear, a company which creates environmentally conscious recycled frames will be joining others on the floor.  Planning to attend? The event is being held Sunday, November 10th at Landsdowne Park. Find out more here.

TAKE A 2 MINUTE VIRTUAL FEMINIST CITY WALK! 

If you were unable to attend The Feminist City Walk /Panel event on Sept. 29th, don’t despair! You can get a taste of it virtually here!   Over 200 people signed up.  Approximately 45 attended the panel discussion afterwards.  We raised about $400 and counting for Jane’s Walk TO.  But most of all it was a super fun learning experience!  See you next year during Gender Equality Week 2020!

DO FEMINISM AND BUSINESS MIX?  

CV Harquail, author of “Feminism: A Key New Idea for Business” thinks feminism and business should mix—and that this allyship is long overdue. Harquail believes feminism and business, two forces that are typically at odds when it comes to creating real social change, can co-mingle in new generative ways to advance social justice. Check out Harquail’s interview on en(gender)ed, a weekly podcast series hosted by Teri Yuan (Previous Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum workshop presenter). en(gender)ed aims to build a cultural literacy around abuse and abuse of power–in all of its manifestations–whether it shows up at the workplace, in our politics, or in our homes.
The Women’s Empowerment Principles offer seven steps to guide business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
empowerwomen.org

FLEX FOR EMPOWERMENT

It should be obvious that promoting the advancement of gender equality in the workplace is good for business. It should be, but it’s not.

LiisBeth spoke to Stephanie Dei at Empowerwomen who told us about the Women’s Empowerment Principles. “The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are a set of seven principles that offer guidance to companies on how to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community,” said Dei.

The WEPs are listed here and include things like promoting women’s education, training and professional development, and establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality. The WEPs were jointly launched in 2010 by UN Women and the UN Global Compact and are informed by real-life business practices and input gathered from across the globe. The Principles also can inform other stakeholders, including governments, as they engage with business. The WE EMPOWER programme started in January 2018 and runs to the end of December 2019, and hopes to capture some feminist business perspectives.

“For decades, Canada has established itself as a leader for gender equality. The #FlexforEmpowerment campaign serves as an opportunity for companies in Canada to share good practices and be recognized for their work supporting women in the workplace, marketplace and community,” says Anna Falth, Senior Programme Manager and Head of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Secretariat.
Signing signatories to sign the WEPs has been slow to start but is gaining momentum. So far over 2400 companies from around the world have joined the movement with Japan in the lead with 247 and the US in second place with 99. Canada clocks in at 36 signatories and include a range of enterprises from BMO to Bombardier, Mountain Equipment Co-op to LiisBeth. But we can do better.

Dei told us that even though companies are ready to support women’s empowerment in the workplace, many don’t know where to start. She said: “As part of the WE EMPOWER programme, we will publish a booklet of 250 best practices to showcase tangible practices, actions and policy changes that have proven to be effective in the workplace globally (i.e. innovative parental leave policies, flexible work policies, etc.). This booklet will serve as a template for companies who want to make a change but do not know where to begin. They will be able to learn from the experiences of other companies and implement similar policies to begin empowering women in the workplace.”

Last week was BDC Small Business Week, a great time to make a move and share what your business is doing to support equality in the workplace.

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Jess Tomlin, Co-founder, CEO, Equality Fund

CANADA’S GLOBAL WOMEN’S EQUALITY FUND: WHAT IS IT? HOW DOES IT WORK?

It’s complicated. But here goes. The Equality Fund is a collective of 11 feminist organizational partners co-led by Jess Tomlin (former Co-CEO of the MATCH International Women’s Fund), Jessica Houssian (Senior Advisor, Women Moving Millions) and Sophie Gupta (Principal, Yaletown Partners). The fund’s mandate is to advance gender equality globally by creating a more sustainable approach to funding both international grassroots women’s rights organizations directly and Canadian women’s rights organizations who work internationally.

The collective was formed to disrupt the largely broken, drip drip charity model, which at present has grassroots organizations spending more time fundraising than doing the work.

Co-founder and CEO Jess Tomlin says the new model takes unique a multi-sector approach. It invites banks, organizations like Equileap (a gender equality ratings index for publically traded companies), social impact venture funds, plus gender-lens investors across Canada to co-create a suite of new investment products (read: return on social impact investments) and donor opportunities in an effort increase total funds available. Those funds will be deployed in ways that don’t leave these organizations gasping for air every six months.

Conversations are already well underway with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and others. And it looks like the Equality Fund team is already making waves in more ways than one.

“RBC, at first, was reluctant to use the word feminist in its formal description about the new partnership. They were even more concerned about the word activist. So we said, “Okay, we’ll take out activist—if you give us feminist. So now we have a traditional, conservative bank promoting the fact it is supporting a feminist initiative. It’s a first, not only for RBC, but for any bank in Canada.”

What does any of this have to do with feminist entrepreneurs who are struggling to find funding of their own? As Maya Angelou explains “The truth is, no one of us can be free until everyone is free.”

We also think it’s cool that the word “feminist” is quickly becoming a safe word in business–way better, than let’s say Amy Schumer’s “pineapple” in the movie, Trainwreck.

To donate, click here.

FEMINIST FREEBIE! TIX TO #MOVETHEDIALSUMMIT

Move The Dial Summit 2018
Calling all feminists in STEM! As a nod to our November TECH issue, we’re giving away FOUR TICKETS (value: $450 a pop) to the Move the Dial Global Summit on November 14, in Toronto.

Founder and CEO Jodi Kovitz says “To ensure the design, leadership, and governance tables of businesses in our community—both today and in the future—reflect the entire population (including women-identified people), all of us must take an ‘ALL IN’ approach to inclusion.”

This year’s ‘ALL IN’ event brings together thought leaders, partners, and amazing humans of all identities to connect, learn, and grow. FREE TIX to go to the FIRST FOUR PEOPLE people to comment on Cherry Tan’s story about the mental health struggles of entrepreneurs, Breaking Bad Silence. Don’t live in Toronto? No worries, the event will be livestreamed globally at no charge. You can register to watch here.

MORE FEMINIST FREEBIES! FEMAS GALA

FeMasCon is the first annual conference in Toronto with a goal to improving performance within business and governance by utilizing all inherent human attributes. We have historically divided these attributes into feminine and masculine boxes, and this conference seeks to inspire a conversation and new ideas to integrate them fully. Inviting all people, no matter how they self-identify by gender, to realize each of us has access to the entire spectrum of what it is to be human. Learn more at: www.femascon.com.

Regular tickets are $100 and LIISBETH READERS get a SPECIAL OFFER of $65 by registering with this link.

PLUS…we’ve also got TWO x FREE TIX to the Gala for the FIRST TWO PEOPLE to leave a comment on Kosi’s article published this week.

WHAT WE’RE READING

This inspiring, compelling debut memoir chronicles the experiences of a female captain serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and her journey to make space for herself in a traditionally masculine world.

“In Girls Need Not Apply, Kelly S. Thompson presents us with a masterclass in resilience. With equal parts strength and vulnerability, Thompson navigates what it means to find belonging—and success—in a hyper-masculinized culture that was never built for women. A must-read for those of us who make it our daily habit to smash through age-old, sexist barriers.” – Lauren McKeon, author of F-Bomb: Dispatches From the War on Feminism

Thompson writes with wit and honesty about her own development as a woman and a soldier, unsparingly highlighting truths about her time in the military. In sharply crafted prose, she chronicles the frequent sexism and misogyny she encounters both in training and later in the workplace, and explores her own feelings of pride and loyalty to the Forces, and a family legacy of PTSD, all while searching for an artistic identity in a career that demands conformity. When she sustains a career-altering injury, Thompson fearlessly re-examines her identity as a soldier.

Read the chat with Thompson on 49th Shelf.

Listen to this audio excerpt thanks to Penguin Random House Canada.

This inspiring, compelling debut memoir chronicles the experiences of a female captain serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and her journey to make space for herself in a traditionally masculine world.“In Girls Need Not Apply, Kelly S. Thompson presents us with a masterclass in resilience. With equal parts strength and vulnerability, Thompson navigates what it means to find belonging—and success—in a hyper-masculinized culture that was never built for women. A must-read for those of us who make it our daily habit to smash through age-old, sexist barriers.” – Lauren McKeon, author of F-Bomb: Dispatches From the War on Feminism

Thompson writes with wit and honesty about her own development as a woman and a soldier, unsparingly highlighting truths about her time in the military. In sharply crafted prose, she chronicles the frequent sexism and misogyny she encounters both in training and later in the workplace, and explores her own feelings of pride and loyalty to the Forces, and a family legacy of PTSD, all while searching for an artistic identity in a career that demands conformity. When she sustains a career-altering injury, Thompson fearlessly re-examines her identity as a soldier.

Read the chat with Thompson on 49th Shelf.

Listen to this audio excerpt thanks to Penguin Random House Canada.

AND FINALLY…IN CASE YOU MISSED IT! 

  • This article in the Toronto Star reads like a textbook on how to advance women’s rights in businesses and organizations across all sectors. To mark the 90th anniversary of “Persons Day” the Star spoke with leaders across the country about how Canada can do better to execute on its 1929 promise and how far is there still to go?
  • The Women’s Philanthropy Institute released the first-ever report to measure charitable donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations to 45,000+ organizations in the United States identified as being dedicated to women and girls. Turns out these organizations receive a mere 1.6% of all donations. But Melinda Gates for one, is committed to help closing the gender equality. Check out her #WomensPhilanthropy efforts in this Fast Company article and explore the WPI research and download the full report to learn more.
  • From the No More Potlucks blog archives comes a clever piece complete with illustrations from Hazel Meyer and Cait McKinneyTools for the Feminist Present is about the tools of feminist activism…re-imagined as well, tools. Think: hammers, handsaws, wrenches as “persistence chisels” and “headphones of refusal” hanging from a pegboard. Ha! Fun. But also poignant and an homage to The New Woman’s Survival Catalog, published in 1973 by Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie. Their book was a take on the popular Whole Earth Catalog of the time, and a seminal survey of Second Wave feminist efforts, which, as the editors noted in their introduction, represented an “active attempt to reshape culture through changing values and consciousness.”
  • 2019 SheEO Venture Applications are open until November 1! Ventures that are majority-women owned, women-led and aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—or what SheEO calls “working on the World’s To-Do List” are eligible to apply to receive a 0% interest loan from SheEO Activators, coaching, mentorship and support. Everyone who applies gets personalized feedback from SheEO’s community of radically generous Activators, so applying to SheEO is like marketing your business to hundreds of women. Join a Venture interest call for more information about the application process.

 

That’s a wrap for Dispatch #56!

On other news, let’s do a check-in on our Feminist Enterprise Commons (the FEC) initiative.

The FEC is our new online non-Zuckerberg, surveillance and ad/algorithm free community space where we can privately convene, connect and share our work in progress, ideas or just reach out for a digital hug. We have been talking about our launch date for four months! We hoped to open its doors to you by November 1st, but with the election and all, we couldn’t make the progress we had hoped for to be ready to bring our new service into the world.

However, it has been released in Beta form! We’ve invited 15 patient people to test it out, and progress has been made! Watch for an update in our November newsletter and refresh. Rest assured, we are working on it! You will be receiving an invitation before the end of the year.

As for the newsletter, we hope you found this release of value. We depend on reader donations to continue this work. If you do not currently support LiisBeth with a paid subscription or one-time donation, we hope you will consider doing so.

Also, remember, if you have a story tip, email us a publisher@liisbeth.com. We are currently accepting queries for January and February.

In the meantime, stay in touch with us on Twitter @liisbethHq

Peace out,

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