Women have chronically been paid much less than men for comparable work. The pay gap is particularly wide for Black and Latina women, who make on average 63% of the wages of a white male for comparable work. This translates into a reduction of almost $1 million in wealth over a 40 year work period. As a result Black women are escalating their efforts to close this gap. We interviewed a Adeola Ajani, founder of Fem Equity, who is resolving to close this gap!
How long have you been in business?
Fem Equity has been in business for two years in December.
Tell us about Fem Equity
Fem Equity is a career pay equity startup that provides education, resources, and information that arms Black and LatinX women/womxn with the tools, support, and confidence they need to make empowered decisions for career success and financial security for an equitable society.
What sparked you to create your business?
I've seen pay inequity (which is the discrepancy in salary that leads to lack of opportunities because of status, ages, attitudes between people on a discriminatory basis) in my mom and grandmother's jobs. They come home dissatisfied, frustrated, and ashamed because they feel trapped and isolated in a space where they are undervalued and unappreciated. I wanted to create a tool that brings support and lasting results that everyone can still live out their goals and not be hindered by limitations like pay inequity.
What is your mission or vision and has it adapted to your business as it has grown and changed?
Fem Equity's mission is to strive to make pay equity a reality for all by providing tools that offset inequities within women of color careers. Our impact-driven, for-profit start-up envisions a world with an equitable society where there are no gaps in pay or career achievement for all. Our mission has grown because even though we target women and people of color our vision and what we want to achieve in a world where there are no pay gaps for anyone. With a vision like this leads our team to focus on our niche audience but expands to others in the future.
Why did you decide to tackle pay inequity?
In addition, to have personally seen how destructive pay inequity is, it is a worldwide issue that many women are dealing with. 107 out of 114 occupations have statistically significant pay gaps that favored men. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research report "Still a Man’s Labor Market: The Slowly Narrowing Gender Wage Gap", compares the wages of women and men and finds women earning just 49 percent of what men earn. Also it is documented that women won’t even see equal pay until 2059 or later.
Do you have employees and how was the process of hiring them?
Fem Equity consists of myself, Chidera our head of communications, and our two board advisors Ifunanya Enezuagu, and Kieta Mpolo Iriarte-Amin. In addition, we have two interns and we did have a person on our team for website development and overall tech development. The process of hiring the interns was easy as far as getting the word out and then we had quite a few candidates to choose from. Onboarding took a minute to adjust them to because we have to explain our mission, vision and brand but eventually it became an effortless transition. While our hire for website and tech development ended up implementing strategy and being very hands-on in the process - they left abruptly. This left the team with no refund or response. It goes to show that as much as you plan and have guidelines things will still happen and you have to learn from these situations to create stronger guidelines/ precautions in the future.
What has been the best marketing strategy for your business?
Our best marketing strategy for our business is to generate awareness through our 4.2k followers on social media. Our social media is the primary source of how we get new customers and users to garner awareness of our brand. They not only know who and what we do by looking at our posts but are wanting to become part of our community and advocate for us and equal pay.
How do you define success for Fem Equity?
We currently have a five-year plan and the purpose of the plan is to show us where do we go next? Where do we plan to do next? But hitting our milestones on the plan which is social media growth, an increase of email subscribers, and an increase of pre-sales for membership and hitting them consistently is success for us.
How have you adapted during this pandemic?
We started off in 2020 transforming an idea into a startup and we were formerly known as Fem Startup. Starting a business in the pandemic is very interesting because we are in a global lockdown while trying to pursue a huge mission. But, it has accelerated us to pivot into better development, reiterate, and eventually rebrand our name to Fem Equity and company.
How will your business adapt post-pandemic?
Post-pandemic we are trying to not only have virtual programming but a hybrid of both virtual programming and in-person programming since we see the world moving toward that format
What advice would you like to share with other aspiring or current business owners?
Continue to make your visions turn into reality. There are going to be a lot of nos and things may not always move as fast as you desire. Keep moving forward and always stay connected to your community so they can uplift and shine the spotlight on you when it is time for you to launch and shine.
How did you fund the start of your business and what other forms of business funding have/do you use?
We have used bootstrapping, and pitch competition prize money. We are still in the pre-revenue stage of our business so we use alternative ways to fund the business. Recently, we have a unique crowdfunding campaign where we are running our “Pay equity for all!” campaign on two platforms., Kickstarter and Ifundwomen.
Tech tool/app that you can't do without?
LinkedIn & LinkedIn Learning
Must read or listen to (podcast/ebook) for any businesswoman?
IFundWomen is a startup funding platform for women entrepreneurs providing access to capital through crowdfunding, small business grants, and they recently created a podcasts so you can listen to how to get raise money as well as learn from successful entrepreneurs. Girl I guess podcast is another great podcast it does not only specifically talk about business and was created by two great black businesswomen Karen Civil and Ming Lee. As far as a great business book I suggest Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good is an amazing book for any business-women but especially social entrepreneurs.
Essential self-care practices?
Essential self-care practices for me specifically are praying, reading/listening to self-improvement tools (books/podcasts/videos), and having a weekly day of rest to reset and rewind for upcoming strenuous situations.
What are you looking forward to the most in 2022?
To finally have our website launch, continue to grow our membership, and the resources we want to give to our audience. Always looking forward to seeing growth for black and brown women everywhere.
ABOUT ADEOLA AJANI
Adeola Ajani is a woman and BIPOC subject matter expert, social activist, diversity and inclusion scholarship recipient, and the Founder & Creator of Fem Equity. Her experience involves becoming a financial analyst for a Tier 1 investment banking firm in the Baltimore area and using her finance skills to close gaps and further create social equity. She displays skills of leadership with her involvement with Towson University’s Women in Finance, Women in leadership, and recently joining the board of local non-profit in the DMV area. The creation of Fem Equity originated for women like Adeola’s mom; who already experienced gender and racial inequality. She is excited to bring this tool to help all women/womxn in her community and beyond.