Feminuity is a full-service diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) firm that supports companies to build diverse teams, equitable systems, and inclusive products and workplace cultures. We’ve been re-imagining “business as usual” since 2015 and have worked with start-ups to Fortune 500s.
Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in a feminist household, was always that kid with the hyphenated last name, and was interested in being a human rights lawyer very early on. However, when the time came, and I was presented with the decision as to whether to go to law school or not, I realized the legal system wasn’t the way that I could best bring value to the world and advance change. Instead, I ended up at Western University to complete a Ph.D. in Equity Studies and Technology and Innovation Studies. During my time there, it became clear that the field of technology and innovation often fails to consider the human side of the conversation. This was serious, given algorithms and data-driven approaches shape our modern lives and are orchestrated by a fairly homogenous group of people. I wanted to solve this problem by working with companies to produce cultures, services, and products that empower everyone. I wanted to help companies innovate by embracing feminism and ingenuity.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Don’t falter on things that really matter to you. Early on, we got some advice that pushed back on the name “Feminuity” (a combination of the words “feminism” and “ingenuity.”) It was difficult for some to pronounce. Sometimes it’s confused with the term “femininity” or the former half of the conjunction, “feminism.” We were told that people will assume we just do “women stuff” or that we will scare prospective clients away because it’s too “feminist-y.” I considered succumbing more times than I could count. However, I’ve realized that this is simply part of the work – breaking assumptions. And it worked out in the end because we are busier than ever! In fact, we’ve never had to raise money, and we turn down clients whose values do not align with ours.
What problem does your business solve?
We help organizations actualize their good intentions through our Assess, Educate, eLearning, Design, Sustain, and Advise services. We believe that we’re at a critical moment where we can either exacerbate existing inequality, or we can make things better. We know that the people inside companies are hurting, and in some cases, the products and offerings that companies share with the world hurt people, too.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Before co-founding Feminuity, I led doctoral research at the intersection of equity, technology, and innovation. This research highlighted some alarming (and sometimes harmful) gaps in technologies that are supposed to make our lives better. In the case of car crash safety testing, for example, crash test dummies rely on the normative default of a non-disabled, 180-pound male body. This revelation became the inspiration for Feminuity, and the rest is history!
What is your magic sauce?
At Feminuity, we consider over 40+ unique diversity characteristics in our practice. We strive to decolonize our thinking by integrating multicultural, non-Western, non-dominant, and Indigenous perspectives into our work. Furthermore, we believe in scaling efforts across the entire organization’s operations. If we want long-term, effective DEI efforts, we cannot put DEI and HR in a corner and be done with it. This helps us better consider those at the margins, ask transformative questions, and reimagine business as usual. Lastly, we’re all about growth over perfection. No one’s perfect, and we’re certainly not in the business of cancelling anyone. I always say, “Stay hard on the issues but soft on people.”
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We’ve worked with over a hundred clients across six continents using the expertise and knowledge of our small but mighty team. We’ve grown tremendously and plan to continue scaling our business so we can make an impact on a larger scale. For us, “innovation” that harms people or the planet is neither radical nor revolutionary, and we need organizations to do better.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I sparked this little idea with about $500.00 and a lot of heart, and it’s only been possible to grow Feminuity into what it is today because of the incredible humans that have and continue to shape it with me. Of course, there were lots of challenges along the way in these wildly complex times. One of the biggest challenges in the DEI industry, in general, is keeping the momentum going. Organizational DEI efforts tend to ebb and flow based on tragedies, such as the murder of George Floyd. Such unstable efforts are not sustainable and will not produce the desired change. We must get a handle on the momentum and generate urgency for the cause within ourselves every day. Additionally, we are continually evolving our practice/approach. For example, we have moved from solely championing the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to advocating for a decentralized approach scaling efforts across the entire organization’s operations and alleviating the burden from the CDO.