Some of Biome's leadership team at our Strategy & Nature Retreat.
By Biome Founder, Tracey Bailey ~ first published in 2020 and updated March 2023.
On International Women's Day, and every day, we celebrate the talented team of women that lead Biome and what we do to help accelerate women's equality.
I started Biome nearly 20 years ago with a vision to help solve the world's environmental challenges. But, it is the women who have joined, nurtured and relentlessly pursued that vision, who have enabled Biome to be where we are today—and to make the mighty impact that we do!
Since we began, the leadership positions across Biome's stores, e-commerce, inventory, operations, marketing, and production have primarily been held by women.
There have been numerous studies showing that women-led companies outperform those led by men, with stronger market returns and profits. Curious, but true. In my 30 year career, I have worked with some excellent male leaders, whom I am grateful to have learned from. So, I am conscious that these attributes are not exclusive to women, nor does every women possess these.
At Biome, we aim to achieve a diverse workplace that encompasses differences, whether cultural, gender diversity, economic background, physical or cognitive.
So what are the strengths that women leaders can bring to a business?
A balance of soft power and hard power
A study by Deloitte in 2018 (1) revealed that today's workforce is seeking a balance in soft and hard power, something that I have seen women excel at. When respondents were asked to select the most important values that make a good leader, of the top five traits identified three were 'soft power' traits — being communicative (71%), flexible (58%), and patient (53%), while the other two were 'hard power' traits — hardworking (68%) and confident (58%).
The study found also found that employees are looking for leaders who are transparent and authentic, and who have the ability to see their own weaknesses. These attributes are related to 'emotional intelligence' where women leaders often have an advantage.
Collaboration over competition
Being able to form relationships with other businesses and organisations is an important quality in the success of an entrepreneur. Women are at an advantage here, because from a young age females are generally socialised to be more relationship-focussed. Fostering a collaborative, relationship-based decision making environment brings great benefits to a workplace culture.
A woman I admire who displays strength in this area is Yasmin Grigaliunas, CEO & Co-founder of The World's Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS). I was privileged to meet with Yasmin recently where she spoke about her belief in the power of collaboration. What Yasmin and her team have achieved with WBGS is remarkable. The WBGS is a massive circular-economy community event where people donate their unused or unwanted household goods which are re-sold to create purposeful profit to donate to charity. In five years they have raised over $314,000 and diverted 3.3 million kilograms of goods from landfill.
WBGS is now known as Circonomy.
On International Women's Day in 2019, Yasmin wrote this excellent piece
Mentoring other women
We still have a long way to go to achieve parity for women in business, government and society. The team of exceptional women leaders at Biome have the opportunity to role model and mentor for other women in our own workplace and further afield, and to provide inspiration to the next generation of young people in their careers.
The World Economic Forum has reported that closing the gender gap could increase GDP by 35 percent. Four fifths of these gains come from adding workers to the labor force, but fully one fifth of the gains are due to the gender diversity effect on productivity. (2)
A great mentor will guide you, be honest with you, and provide you with valuable skills, while not judging you. I see this in particular with our Store Managers who work with young women starting in their first jobs. We have had many young people work with Biome for four or more years through their senior high school and higher education, who have then flown our nest and launched into their chosen careers. It gives us great happiness to have been part of their mentoring.
Driven by social good
It is not accurate to stereotype anyone based on gender or other attributes (I learned that back in the late 1990's from the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus because my husband and I found ourselves to be the opposite of the author's theory!). However, studies have constantly shown that females in general prioritise doing the right thing over being happy, that they tend to act more ethically than men, and are more likely to suffer feelings of shame if they are not doing 'the right thing'. This tendency towards living with purpose and in the service of greater societal good does mean that Biome has attracted women who seek to work in a career that they find fulfilling and impactful.
Those attributes are the perfect fit for Biome's vision and our values:
We have integrity, and compasion
We are curious, dynamic, ground breaking, advocates, friendly & supportive, and hopeful.
Happy International Women's Day from all the human beings on the Biome team.