IWD 2022 – #BreakTheBias

It’s international women’s day, and today, we are paying homage to 3 of the fantastic women in the Seldon Team.

This year’s theme is #BreakingTheBias which, as you can imagine, is close to our hearts in the world of data science. For a long time, decisions have been made in society based on data samples that didn’t include enough women samples. In her book “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” Caroline Criado Perez takes us through many real-world examples of where a bad data set has led to lives being ruined.

Did you know a woman is 46% more likely to be injured than a man in a car accident – why? The cause comes from years of using crash test dummies. These dummies were created using the average height of men at 5ft9.  Data gathered from safety tests led to decisions such as, seat belt height, airbag deployment and seat size. Then, of course, issues came about with the average woman coming in 6” shorter than the average male. Seat belts not having the correct range of height for women. Airbags are deploying at the wrong height. Headrests aren’t set at the right height. It was only in 2011 when the first female crash test dummy was used, and we are beginning to get closer to where we need to be. But still, in the US, the two major safety testing companies do not put a female test dummy in the driver’s seat. It’s shocking to think that women are treated as outliers, and that’s why International Women’s Day and the awareness of the data bias affecting women is so important to us.

Come and meet the team

Amy – Head of People and Talent

As Head of People and Talent at Seldon, I lead on all things people, culture, development, recruitment, talent branding and more! Working closely with the team, I help ensure we develop inclusive policies and processes that will enable us to grow sustainably and create a great employee experience. 

What’s it like to work at Seldon?

I have been with Seldon for almost a year and love that I am able to contribute, learn, grow and be challenged in a supportive environment. I have a real sense of purpose in my role, one of the things I love about working in a startup! We’re on an exciting growth trajectory that is only possible because of the knowledge, passion, collaboration and openness of the team, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us as a company and individuals. 

Who is your Hero?

My hero would have to be my Mum; she is so strong, supportive and always there for us (I am one of six!) even when she has everything on her shoulders. Over the years, our relationship has developed and strengthened as we’ve learnt to communicate adult to adult, rather than parent to child; I appreciate that she is willing to grow and learn still alongside me. 

What is your experience of gender stereotypes?

Unfortunately, like many others, I have experienced bias in both my personal and work life, even more so from working in People (or HR!) as there is an antiquated expectation of what the role encompasses. One thing that has really surprised me is that this has also been from other women within a business, sometimes referred to as queen bee phenomena. As challenging as any situation of this nature is, it’s a collective effort to make a sustainable change moving forward, and I am pleased to have an inclusive and supportive team here at Seldon. 

Have you seen a shift in breaking the bias?

There has definitely been an improvement in awareness around gender stereotypes, bias, and discrimination however, there is still a long way to go. It’s widely reported that companies with diverse teams and leadership outperform those that don’t however on top of business performance, we should actively be striving for equity and creating safe spaces for anyone to be able to unlock their potential in the workplace. Certainly easier said than done, however continuing to educate ourselves, have open conversations, listen actively and make small changes will help keep momentum. Whilst we’re on this journey together, be an active bystander and if you witness negative behavior, intervene and raise it with someone who can help. 

Tanu – VP Product

As VP of Product, I focus on building product management, design, developer relations and product marketing teams at Seldon. I have over 17 years of experience with intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship – building digital/technical products and bringing them to market with cross-functional teams.

What’s it like to work at Seldon?

Seldon is an early-stage, high-growth scale-up with a very collaborative environment. As Product sits between tech and commercial teams, I find that the company has thoughtful leadership across all our groups. We are open to new ideas to help us improve iteratively. I am also personally looking for candidates from diverse backgrounds across all available roles on my team.

Who is your Hero?

It is tough to pick one – I would have to say Michelle Obama in terms of famous women leaders that I admire. She is an influential woman leader, and I feel that she embodies many qualities I would like to have; she is not arrogant or pushy but has achieved so much and is confident in what she brings to the table, and she also knows what she doesn’t want. I think she would be a phenomenal US president, but she doesn’t want to do that personally, and she can recognise and say no to that. So being more authentic to her values is what I admire the most, and I hope to embody her approach myself. 

What is your experience of gender stereotypes?

Having faced discrimination on various levels in past roles, I am passionate about fighting for more equity in the workplace for BIPOC people who identify as women – both in terms of helping advance their careers but also the words we use in speaking about such topics.

Have you seen a shift in breaking the bias?

In the past two decades, we have made some strides in improving workplace environments for women and other demographics at work. However, we have a long way to promote and sponsor women, especially diverse women, for more representation at the top.

I used to work next to Salesforce, and at the time, their CEO, Marc Benioff, had been advocating for more diverse voices when making decisions through enacting a racial equality and justice taskforce. They enacted a straightforward action involving asking each manager to bring a minority individual to a closed-door meeting that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. This action meant that a few diverse leaders were invited to the C-level meetings. The action was then cascaded down at all levels. The only requirement was that this person has to speak up. This small change led to a lot of positive impact in the company when it was enforced, with improved diversity of promotions as people were being seen. The individuals themselves were also more confident, and their potential was recognised by the company. As we scale at Seldon, I’d like to explore similar policies on our teams alongside Amy and others on the leadership team.

Ieva – Operations Associate

Operations Associate at Seldon, supporting the CFO in all aspects of Finance and Business Operations to ensure a smooth transition of processes as the company scales. Passionate about the startup ecosystem (predominantly tech), previously worked at a startup in China and a boutique VC firm in London to understand how the success/trajectory of the business is perceived by different stakeholders in the ecosystem. 

What’s it like to work at Seldon?

Seldon’s culture was generally like a breath of fresh air to me. I have spent several years working in Asset Management, which is a fairly old-school industry, and breaking the bias is exponentially harder than in the tech industry, where just like the products being built, the culture is being shaped uniquely by everyone that comes onboard.

At Seldon, people are being judged by their output – work they produce, ideas they put forward, the impact they have on projects and tasks of all sizes. There is a lot of thank-yous, shoutouts, kudos. No one and no task goes unnoticed! I am a firm believer that culture eats strategy for breakfast and if you can be a killer at both, you are set for success. Additionally, it has been really reassuring and inspiring seeing women in top management roles at Seldon.

Who is your Hero?

I am never sure how to answer this question! There are many people that influenced the way I think about my career and who I want to become, not only as a professional but also as a person. My mentor and a good friend, Thomas Martin, has been very influential in the way I think about my career, underlying the importance of staying true to yourself and what you believe in. As an investor, he is an advocate for inclusivity, backing women founders and placing women in leadership positions. He made me realise that you don’t have to sacrifice who you are as a person to have a certain career path and gave me confidence to speak up when needed. 

What is your experience of gender stereotypes?

I have experienced stereotypical behavior numerous times in both professional and social environments. Unfortunately, for many, it still is a norm and even if they try to break the bias, it is something that they ‘have to do’ and not what they believe in. Until being inclusive and using inclusive language is natural for everyone, there is a lot of work to be done in breaking these stereotypes.

Have you seen a shift in breaking the bias?

I have definitely felt a positive change in the past years. There is much more light and transparency in the D&I reporting for companies, employee surveys. Some public events and movements gave the courage to victims of such stereotypical treatment to be more vocal. I believe on a larger scale, the bias starts forming at a very early age, and kids/teenagers/grown-ups at work adopt the behaviors they see around them. So this shift will take time to show full effect, but I am very hopeful for the future where inclusivity and equality-based behaviors come naturally.

From our CEO, Alex Housley.

As we scale the team at Seldon, one of the most impactful priorities in shaping our culture and succeeding in our objectives has been to recruit women in roles across the business and particularly in leadership positions. Gender diversity has enabled us to significantly improve how we tackle strategic decision-making, build customer relationships, develop our roadmap, run our core business operations, grow our team and culture, and take our products to the next level. Women at Seldon help us to stay on course and truly make an impact. Thanks to all of the brilliant women who make Seldon the company it is today and for shaping our future.