Sure, you can consider yourself a healthy person if you exercise, eat right, get plenty of sleep, and take vitamins. But ultimately, if you are unhappy at work, your emotional health and wellbeing can and will take a toll.
As women continue to grow with leaps and bounds in the workforce, with more women working now than ever before, it’s becoming more and more vital for women and men to reach a level of equality, both in policy and in culture. According to World Bank estimates, today, women make up about 42% of the estimated global working population, a 126% increase from 1960 to 1997, making them indispensable as contributors to national and global economies (ILO, 2000a; WHO, 1999). But, unfortunately, many companies have policies and corporate cultures that have been created by men, for men, that haven’t quite caught up to this shift in the workforce. And this gender inequality can cause major unhappiness and stress on both men and women.
To quote the World Health Organization’s publication on Gender Equality, Work and Health, “In general, women are exposed to some psychosocial risk factors at work, such as negative stress, psychological and sexual harassment and monotonous work, more often than men (Arcand et al., 2000). Due to their low status in the work hierarchy, women exert less control over their work environment, a condition associated with cardiovascular, mental and musculoskeletal ill health (Hall, 1989). The combination of paid and unpaid work affects women’s health (Brisson et al., 1999). Consequently, work-related fatigue, repetitive strain injury, infections and mental health problems are more common among women than among men (Östlin, 2002a).”
If you are a working woman reading this right now, I imagine you are shaking your head “yes” and can think of a time where your career has had a negative effect on your health. A few local Cincinnati entrepreneurs decided that it was more than time to start having these conversations, get to the root of the issue, and drive change.
So, what’s the recipe for creating this badass female startup? Mix two highly educated, motivated, and tenacious women, give them some resources, stir, and watch them explode with a force that is shattering glass ceilings across the country.
Allow me to reintroduce you to Gild Collective. I say reintroduce because you may have heard of them from when they became the first all female company to go through the Brandery’s start-up accelerator. At the time, Rachel and Kelsey had the idea to create a business that brought individual DIY boxed craft parties to a group setting, whether it be a birthday party, work event, or simply a girls night in. Rachel had just gotten married, and loved every bit of the DIY crafts that came along with her wedding. So, why not turn this love into a business?
They built the model for Gild Collective with three areas of focus: Creativity, Community, and Confidence. But, as the first all-female group to go through this accelerator program, they began to understand gender bias, and started having conversations with their friends on the topic. Turns out, once you start the conversation, you uncover that gender biases are running rampant throughout businesses and organizations across the globe. And many companies have no strategic plan in place to disrupt them.
So, their focus started to shift. Shortly after graduating from the Brandery, they were invited by P&G to do a creative project with one of their women’s initiative groups, and were asked to weave the theme of entrepreneurship into the project. From that point on, they decided to redefine Gild Collective with a new mission: being “a forum for women to gather with purpose: empowering women through inclusion and leadership”.
As you can imagine, so much of this inclusion and leadership change reform must start with the organization’s policies and procedures: driving change from the top, but then ensuring that these newly reformed policies are being accepted by the organization’s culture. It’s Rachel and Kelsey’s mission to work with organizations from all angles: meeting with employees to understand the bias that exists within the company and culture, then bringing this to the attention to upper level management whose job is to use this new knowledge to reform policies.
I had the pleasure of attending a 3 hour workshop focused on unconscious and implicit bias, and had a few strong takeaways:
Bringing Gild Collective in a room of professional business women and men allows people to open up and speak more honest and freely than they would if you were simply put in the room with coworkers with their human resource team. That 3rd party moderation makes all the difference.
The “ah-ha” moments were palpable. This is without a doubt a very touchy subject. But within the first few minutes, Rachel and another member of the Gild facilitation team had explained the history of bias, shared personal stories, and opened up about their own personal struggles with their bias. Eventually, they had everyone in the room admitting that they all held bias, and that it’s okay because it is human nature.
Everyone walked out of that room understanding what it means to have a bias, and what to do when they face bias in the workforce. Although it was a group of about 40 people, these 40 people without a doubt went back to the office feeling empowered to make real change not only in their organization, but in their community and in the world. And since this workshop was introduced by their company, it has to naturally make them all feel proud to be a part of a team that cares for the wellbeing and equality of their employees.
This company has been working with Gild Collective for over a year, and started with meeting with upper management. By working with all levels of the company and addressing these difficult topics that can’t be ignored, they are motivating employees and driving REAL organizational change to make their company a more accepting and supportive place to work.
Regardless if your company wants to engage with Gild, they invite women to be a part of their quarterly women’s initiative roundtables where they discuss what it takes to move the needle towards gender equality, and encourage work/life balance from the top down. Find out more about the upcoming August roundtable here.
Behind the scenes, the women behind Gild Collective are constantly gathering data, analyzing studies, and holding meetings with stakeholders who understand what it is going to take for Gild to continue to host effective workshops and consultations to be catalysts for change. Or, in other words, cause the Gild Effect.
Interested in learning more about Gild Collective or having them do a workshop at your company? Shoot them an email here.