Clare, you have launched the world’s first global online membership community for Women in CX (WiCX community) on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2021. Soon after, your LinkedIn page reached over 4.5k followers and in one year, your community membership has extended to +50 countries. Congratulations!
How are you feeling?
Thank you! Honestly, it’s been a whirlwind 12 months. Going from zero to reaching product/market fit in under a year is every startup founder’s dream. The growth we’ve experienced in such a short space of time is frankly mind-blowing. I am just so thankful to my team, our leaders group, members, sponsors and supporters for believing in the vision.
At CXM we define our community of readers, partners, and contributors as a best practice and knowledge community. What kind of community is Women in CX?
We started out by building a private social media network, content and events programme to bring together women from multiple industries into a single owned space to collaborate, share knowledge and learn from one another. What we didn’t anticipate was how fiercely women would support one another on a deeper level, or how that would translate to so much visible action externally.
I’d say we’ve since transcended ‘traditional’ community models to provide a platform our members say is ‘the best place on the internet’, owing to the fact we share a uniquely safe space to meet, connect and truly be ourselves. By being part of a tribe, members are experiencing previously unattained levels of success. Their results in promotions, pay rises, new ventures and CX really do speak for themselves.
How has the role of CEO at Women in CX shaped your approach to business and leadership?
It’s been just as transformative for me personally, on many levels. Nothing quite prepared me for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship. Or the gradient of the learning curve I’m continuously traversing. I have become more accustomed to taking risks, comfortable with the prospect of failure, adaptable in the face of challenges, decisive when it matters most, resilient in ways I didn’t know I was capable of. Most importantly, I developed unfathomable trust in my people. Leading a community business has allowed me to shake off years of corporate indoctrination and lead with purpose.
The long history of women fighting for their rights has taught us that feminism can liberate, democratize, include, and regenerate society as a whole. From your perspective, what are the top three reasons to invite the feminist perspective to the CX table and business in general?
The simple reason why women need a seat at the table is that we think differently about decisions:
- Women display long-term peripheral vision, engaging more effectively with multifaceted social issues and how decisions impact people in the long term, beyond the bottom line.
- Women lead with greater Emotional Intelligence (EI), engaging in collaboration and consensus-building to elicit support for a course of action.
- Women attend to broader stakeholder needs; being far more likely to consider the needs of others and take a far more cooperative approach to decision making in order to arrive at fair and moral decisions that benefit all parties.
This kind of diversity in leadership decision making would undoubtedly lead to a better future for all. But to answer this question fully, we have to confront the truisms for women in CX and unpick what feminism traditionally means.
What do you mean by that?
Whilst women represent almost 70% of the workforce in customer experience, representation drops to 38% in managerial positions and just 12% in the biggest jobs. Add to this the fact that technology is rapidly becoming a significant driving force of our industry (with female representation being only 17% of IT in leadership, 12% in Machine Learning, 10% of Developers and >1% of investors) the number of women leading and shaping the future of CX where it matters most is disproportionately low.
But gender is only one aspect of the problem. As an intersectional feminist, I believe that we need to move beyond conversations centred on just equality between the sexes.
How would you explain intersectional feminism?
If feminism is advocating for women’s rights and equality between men and women, Intersectional feminism is the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion, age and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination. For example, a white woman is penalised by her gender but has the advantage of her race. A black woman is disadvantaged by her gender and her race. A Latina lesbian experiences discrimination because of her ethnicity, her gender and her sexual orientation.
By removing barriers to entry for women in developing countries and creating safe spaces for minority groups to be equally seen and heard, the diversity of women in WiCX community is a true representation of women working in customer experience. But if you observe social media, panels, authors, conference speakers and ‘thought-leaders’; beyond being merely male-dominated, it is also a space dominated by white, straight, middle-aged voices.
The first goal of our community is to promote diversity and inclusion in the customer experience industry, leading the way by example and raising awareness of intersectional inequality. And my personal goal is to use the WiCX platform to help change the face and future of CX.
What’s fascinating about the Women in CX community is the ownership and belonging you created for all members. Could you share more about how you establish a deep connection in the online space?
Our values of inclusion, collaboration, courageousness and authenticity are at the core of everything we do. This means our members feel welcome and included from the moment they arrive, empowered to take their seat at the table and nurtured by the genuine sense of unconditional support. Our culture, approach to codesign and the fact that members take responsibility to help newbies integrate, is all part of the unique experience, sense of ownership and belonging to this community. I have personally never seen, felt or experienced anything quite like it.
Can you share one example of one collaboratively solved challenge within the community?
That’s the most interesting thing. I didn’t know how to build a community or a platform-based business. The main challenge we collaboratively solved was building the community proposition itself. From developing the brand and building the MVP, to developing the product, service and experience for mass. It was all down to our members collaborating through co-design workshops.
It’s part of our DNA now. Each quarter we conduct the same approach of listening to our members, analysing feedback and setting up challenges to solve within working groups. It’s the greatest source of innovation and allows us to keep iterating and innovating in ways that continually increase the value of membership. WiCX really is built for women by women in customer experience.
What’s up for you in 2022?
I very much put my life on hold to build WiCX. But it was certainly worth it to lay the foundations of a sustainable purpose-driven organisation that’s literally changing women’s lives. I’ve shared openly on social media that I was on the brink of burnout on more than one occasion. So, 2022 is the time for me to prioritise taking care of myself and a return to my pre-pandemic life of adventure.
Over the last 12 months, I’ve developed an incredible team of women who are taking on more responsibility for the day-to-day operations and becoming fabulous leaders in their own right (Big shout out to Team WiCX). Plus, I took the decision to devolve community leadership across a group of my most trusted founding members last year, who now brilliantly lead the development of our chapters in the UK, Europe, Africa, The Middle East, The Americas, and Asia Pacific. And the marvellous leaders of our interest and industry specific groups uniting women in tech, SaaS, financial services and those who are self-employed.
We are now at the tipping point of advocacy driving growth through network effect, and the level of organic engagement means the community sustains itself beautifully without me needing to be quite so hands-on. I consider the strong, bad-ass, confident female community leaders WiCX has cultivated so far to be my proudest achievement to date. This year I will be heading out to Central and South America to tick off some adventures on my bucket list.
If this community has taught me anything, it’s that the future is never certain. So, you shouldn’t worry about things beyond the limit of your control and focus on building the future you want for yourself and others. That’s empowerment.
Learn more about the WiCX here.