The Hans(wo)men Group, a portfolio of over 30 startups invested in by business angel Hansi Hansmann, focuses on internet and health industries in Austria, Germany, UK, and Spain. During a portfolio offsite, Hansi wanted to address the issue of sexism in the startup space by providing actionable training on the topic.
Sexism is unfortunately a pervasive problem in the startup industry, with nearly half of all women reporting experiencing discrimination and bias in the workplace. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as unequal opportunities, lack of representation in leadership roles, and sexual harassment. What’s worse, these issues often go unaddressed due to the lack of HR policies in place as well as the lack of awareness around biased language and behaviour.
“The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate.”
At Female Founders, we love this quote as this highlights the importance of founders and leaders taking this issue seriously and addressing any sexist comments or jokes made in the workplace.
With Hansi’s briefing, we developed a workshop that discusses common examples of microaggressions, the consequences of not addressing them, and tools that founders of his portfolio companies can use to create an inclusive workplace.
The Solution: Training with Action Steps
The workshop was held during the Hans(wo)men group’s annual offsite retreat in Austria. We created a safe and inclusive space for all participants to get to know each other and discuss the topic of combating sexism in the workplace.
We began the workshop by sharing examples of microaggressions that we have observed in the startup industry and soliciting input from the group. This helped everyone understand what a microaggression is and how seemingly small actions can contribute to a toxic work environment.
Next, we discussed the legal consequences of failing to address these issues and provided actionable steps that participants could implement in their own organizations, such as creating an anonymous reporting process for misconduct and developing strategies for calling out inappropriate behaviour. By the end of the workshop, participants had a clear understanding of the importance of addressing sexism in the workplace and the tools to do so.