• Why I love leading a women led business

    March 8, 2020 • LIFE, STORIES

    Some of Biome’s leadership team at our recent Strategy & Nature Retreat

    By Biome Founder, Tracey Bailey

    This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the talented team of women that lead Biome and what we do to help accelerate women’s equality.

    I started Biome 16 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 todayand to make the mighty impact that we do!

    Our leadership positions across Biome’s stores, e-commerce, inventory, operations, HR, marketing and communications have always been held by women.  Not by design, but that is just how it has eventuated because we recruit on the best person that has applied for the position.

    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 25 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 posses these.

    At Biome, we aim to achieve a diverse workplace that encompasses differences, whether cultural, gender beyond the two homogenous groups, economic background, physical or cognitive.  On International Women’s Day, we are proud to have on our team a young woman who has Down syndrome, and people from refugee and various cultural backgrounds.

    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.  And 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.

    Last International Women’s Day, Yasmin of WBGS wrote this excellent piece

    The experience of mothering

    Those women who have the opportunity to be a mother, also have the opportunity to learn and develop skills that transfer to leading a business.  For me, from being a mother, I have learned a greater acceptance of putting the interests and achievements of others ahead of my own, and to act with empathy and humility.

    Being a parent also has taught me about how to be patient, adapt quickly, and handle multi-tasking and competing responsibilities.

    These are all valuable skills to be a successful entrepreneur and leader of people.

    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

    I don’t agree with stereotyping 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, which are:

    We have
    integrity, and

    We are
    ground breaking,
    friendly & supportive, and

    Happy International Women’s Day from all the human beings on the Biome team.


    1) https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/about-deloitte/us-shift-forward.pdf

    2) https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/economic-gains-from-gender-inclusion-even-greater-than-you-thought/