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On the surface, Sapio Research might seem like many other companies, but it only takes a quick visit to the team page to realise that something is a bit different. This is a company made up mainly of women. For some, this might come as a surprise, for others, it is what they have always wanted, and indeed it could be something that you have never considered. Whatever the initial reaction, it only takes a short time for it to feel entirely normal.
That said, it should not be underestimated quite how significant it is for a company to be made up predominantly female staff. Women make up the majority of the workforce in the UK (52.7%), but that does not mean that companies are majority female.
Likewise, it does not mean that women are being proportionally represented at board level. A 2022 study found that women make up 40% of FTSE 100 top table roles. This is an improvement since the same figure was at just 12.5% 10 years ago. The 10-year change does represent a significant improvement in the long overdue move to create gender balance at the top of companies.
Given all this, you might wonder what is it like to be part of a company that is not only mainly female at the top of the company but also throughout? Well, you need only ask someone at Sapio. Out of a company of 21 employees, 18 are female and 3 are male, or to put it another way the gender split is 86%/14% (as researchers, it would be blasphemous not to include bases and percentages!).
What this firmographic means is that women have and continue to form a defining role in shaping the company’s culture and future. When you walk into Sapio, what you are greeted with is an environment where the conversations around female representation at higher levels are almost irrelevant. At every level of the company, you will find a woman.
What becomes evident in the gender split of the company when you dig a little deeper the meritocratic hiring practices at play. People are hired, judged and promoted by what they achieve, regardless of gender.
Perhaps to better explain the uniqueness of working in a mainly female company, you need to compare it against its polar opposite. I’ve recently been watching Succession which follows a company run by a dominating, intimidating and ruthless father and his 3 children. Although fictionalised, the company environment is defined by the fear instilled by the father and a culture that tolerates aggressive behaviour towards each other.
Compare this to a company culture where one of its core values is friendliness and this can be felt. It would be a leap to say that this is the case because of it being a mainly female company, but it would be wrong to ignore the impact of a feminine touch. An equally important core value is forthrightness and indeed this is a defining feature of the company. Everyone’s opinion is valued and the very fact that this is the case represents a major step towards gender equality, which of course is what we all strive for.
We at Sapio could almost take it for granted as it is the norm for us. However, with International Women’s Day on the near horizon, this seemed the prime opportunity to trumpet something in which we take enormous pride. Being a mainly female company may currently be a rarity but it is undoubtedly long overdue for cultures to be shaped by female values. Long may it continue!