When we initially started talking about our International Women’s Month campaign back in January, we already had big ideas. We came fired up to feature an army of inspiring female Xolopreneurs on our blog. We couldn’t wait to start organising panels for constructive, in-depth discussions about female solopreneurship. We were even considering handing out (virtually, of course) awards for “Female Freelancer of the Year.”
And then we saw the numbers. Our jaws dropped. Our hearts sank into our stomachs. But the numbers don’t lie. And the story they’re telling is that to date, only 15% of Xolo users are women.
At this point, it’s human nature to come up with excuses to shield oneself from blame; to try and justify the reason half of the population is so underrepresented on our platform by falling back on old stereotypes such as…
- Women are less likely to freelance because they prefer the security of a full-time job
- Women shy away from entrepreneurship because they aren’t willing to take associated risks
- Women lack the time and flexibility necessary to build a business because they are focused on family
- Women are more likely to play a supporting role in their partner’s career rather than their own
We are consciously choosing not to hold space for these outdated and unhelpful stereotypes for two very important reasons. First, these characterisations have been proven to be categorically false:
- The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council found that 40% of US businesses are women-owned, and there are 114% more women entrepreneurs than there were 20 years ago.
- A 2019 study by IPSE, a UK association of independent professionals, found a 63% increase in highly-skilled women choosing to freelance rather than seeking full-time employment.
- The IPSE study similarly found that freelancer mothers account for around 15% of the total freelancer population.
- Forbes found that private tech companies that are led by women achieve 35% higher ROI.
- Forbes similarly found that women-founded companies in First Round Capital’s portfolio out-performed companies founded by men by 63%!
The second reason we are consciously resisting the urge to make excuses is this: By seeking to avoid responsibility, we at Xolo are also rejecting the opportunity to make a change.
And that’s why we’re kicking off this International Women’s Day by admitting that so far, Xolo has failed in its goal of making freelancing more inclusive. So we’re taking conscious steps during this International Women’s Month to:
- Listen to the experiences of female freelancers and entrepreneurs through surveys and interviews
- Share the stories of women freelancers and entrepreneurs on our blog and social channels
- Provide support through mentoring sessions with a business coach and a licensed therapist who specialises in navigating the variety of roles that women play in society
- Publish content that inspires, educates, and offers new ideas to existing problems
- Work toward finding sustainable solutions for making freelancing more inclusive as we move forward
** Stay tuned for more information on all of the above!
Finally, we fully acknowledge that women are not the only minority under-represented on our platform. Which is why the name of our campaign battle cry going forward is — Freelancing is For Everyone. We know we will ultimately fall short in these efforts, but we also know that this is the only way to grow. And just as we believe that freelancing is the future of work, we believe that a culture of inclusiveness is the only way forward. We hope you will join us on this journey to make freelancing a more inclusive and prosperous space for all!