In aid of International Women’s Day 2023, we’re shining a light on the inspirational women we work with, collaborate with, or have pure admiration for as female pioneers within their fields.
As part of our Words of Wisdom blog series, we interviewed seven inspirational female founders from tech, PR, research and fundraising to discuss this year’s Embracing Equity theme.
Kelly-Anne Perera is an experienced executive-level consultant specialising in launching and growing brands in new and emerging markets.
Currently working as International Vice President of Ape Squared Studio – a global web3.0 agency in production on a high-value Metaverse project – Kelly-Anne covers everything from Go To Market strategy, brand partnerships, celebrity collaborations, audience capture and community building.
Prior to her career in web 3.0, Kelly-Anne oversaw the distribution of high-budget feature films, including the Netflix global release of the movie Next Gen’ starring John Krasinksi. Before this, she worked for Comic Relief on the international expansion of the UK brand ‘Red Nose Day’.
In her spare time, Kelly-Anne is an advocate for women and girls and is a Founder of the Women Leading Web3 initiative – an organisation helping educate women about the web3.0 world, as well as providing networking and career opportunities for people looking to move into the space.
Why is it important for companies to focus on inclusion and equality in their company?
From working in the web3 space, one of the core values of the technology is around ownership. Via the sale of NFTs or inclusion in a DAO, a brand’s audience now have direct voting and decision-making rights in your company or project.
As a customer, our greatest power is our purchasing choices. Now, with this added layer of community ownership, it’s more important than ever that brands embrace inclusivity to ensure they have as broad an audience reach as possible.
The web3 space is particularly empowering when it comes to addressing social issues such as inclusivity or the lack thereof. One recent example was around some of the NFT launch parties at a recent global conference. One project in particular listed “Women only to be invited as a plus 1”. This view that women don’t deserve a seat at the table on their own merit is outdated, and consumers won’t accept it anymore.
The voice for women’s inclusivity is growing louder. While there’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done to tackle the gender disparity in the industry, companies are now taking a much bigger interest in bridging that gap.
In which areas should more efforts be employed to ensure more inclusiveness?
Investment is a vast area of the industry that needs addressing. In 2022, men received four times more investment in tech start-up projects than women. I even know women who have submitted funding applications and had a male counterpart fronting the pitch, so their chances of securing investment weren’t jepordised. This isn’t down to women-led ventures being less worthy of investment, but rather that the people investing are largely from institutions where gender bias is the norm.
This has come to the forefront in new and emerging markets such as web3, where the ventures are so fresh and very few people are expert enough to truly understand the pitched concepts.
Where male-led projects are seen as pioneering and maverick, women-led projects are seen as double the risk. The investment statistics speak for themselves regarding this, and it’s a huge area that needs to change.
The emergence of women-led VC funds is helping to address this, as well as networks such as Women Leading Web3, where women can make the valuable connections, they need to support their work.
What does embracing equity mean to you?
As a Founder of a women’s empowerment company, equality is something that we are asked to discuss a lot. A lot of people get the wrong idea that women-led networks and initiatives then mean anti-male. This isn’t the case, and I think this was demonstrated amazingly on International Women’s Day when so many allies were voicing their support for the amazing women out there.
For me, equity is about balance. It’s not one group needing to be anti another group to promote its message. A huge part of web3 is the idea of collaboration, not competition, and that can be applied to equality. Support from allies to marginalised groups is essential to help bring a larger audience to the issues faced by minority groups. It’s only with education around the issues that we can then help to tackle the resulting equality imbalance.
Please share any good examples of practices, measures or initiatives that can be adopted, shared and/or scaled up.
London Women Leading Web 3 was created to provide exclusive spaces for high-level women leaders to network, share expertise, and support each other.
We work at one end of the scale by providing consulting and networking opportunities for women who are already in the web3 space and are true pioneers in the work they do. At the other end of the scale, we work on initiatives that help women enter the space at entry-level.
By providing access to education and inspiring women and case studies, we hope to create a lifecycle of women leaders and I think this principle is something that should be applied to all businesses. Companies should not only embrace, but actively provide their workforce with educational opportunities to broaden their knowledge base which can then be brought back and applied to the business.
It’s also essential to have inclusivity as a priority when it comes to recruitment. For women in particular, who tend to be the primary care provider in a family, balancing a working career with personal life can be a real struggle when it comes to support from the business world.
One thing I’ve seen recently evolving is the growth of specialist job boards that only advertise career opportunities where flexibility and understanding of these issues are truly embraced.
I think a final thing to think about to ensure equality in relation to a company or business idea is to think about the reach and demographic of your audience and how you can then provide access to your offering.
The mass adoption of digital-led campaigns, particularly with the rise of web3, has really helped people connect to their audiences where geographical constraints were previously a blockade.
The increase in the incorporation of tech-based campaigns also provides a solution for your audience to interact with your brand regardless of socioeconomic status.