The article was published in Spanish; here’s the English translation.
Women's Day: "Although Fashionable, Female Leadership is Still Antipatic"
by Lucia Blasco
BBC News World
[CAPTION: Silvina Moschini is an expert in digital innovation and remote work technology.]
Silvina Moschini has a pink unicorn.
It is not a fictional tale, but the beginning of a business fable that came true in 2020 for this Argentine based in Miami.
Moschini is the first Latin American woman leading a company valued at US$1 billion, that is, with the status of a unicorn.
The company she co-founded and chairs, TransparentBusiness, exploded with the pandemic. Its secret? Offering technology in the cloud "to connect talent with opportunities and bring transparency in the management of remote work", she explains to BBC Mundo.
The businesswoman says that "the perfect storm for the digital transformation that we are experiencing" was key to her business success, and she wants to take this opportunity to empower other women in business.
Winner in November of the Women Economic Forum's "Woman of the Decade" award, she is also the CEO and founder of SheWorks!, a platform for recruiting women with flexible models that was recognized as one of the 20 organizations in Latin America that do the most for the equality of women.
"I would like to see more female entrepreneurs succeeding and asking for money to build exponential companies," she enthuses.
Her next projects include a program for entrepreneurs (Unicorns show), an innovation laboratory and a book, Skirt the Rules, which she hopes to publish in March and which he summarizes as "a pun between putting a skirt to the rules and thinking outside the box to creatively bend the norms without breaking them."
BBC Mundospoke with the businesswoman about her achievements and her proposals to reduce the gender gap through technology.
You are the first woman in Latin America to lead a unicorn company. As this title is ostentatious, how do you like to define yourself?
I like to define myself as an impact entrepreneur who, since her early days, dreamed of using technology to change people's lives. I am passionate about how technology can bridge the gap between talent and opportunity.
Since I was little, my dad taught me something very important: he told me that I could be whatever I wanted, but that if I wanted to be a princess I had to build my own castles. He taught me that talent has no gender and that there were no limits.
I lost my dad two years ago and with every little achievement I have I look up at the sky and say, "Dad, you were right." And I'm grateful to him.
[CAPTION: "From people who think that you cannot make it, you shall to take the energy to succeed". - Silvina Moschini, IT entrepreneur.]
That added to a very rebellious personality that found in the energy of those who doubted me the inspiration to be able to show them that they were wrong.
From people who think you can't achieve it, you have to take the energy to succeed. That is what makes one draw the strength to persevere.
Your specialization is technology for remote work, a sector that is now experiencing a boom. Were you in the right place at the right time?
Let's say I had a business sense. I looked at the numbers and saw a real problem and that it just needed a global shake up for it to accelerate. But I knew what was going to happen.
So I was patient and ready when the world suddenly had to work remotely.
In addition, we were experiencing a perfect storm for digital transformation, with the combination of factors such as the on-demand economy, Cloud technology, machine learning, data ... and of course the young people, the millennials, who understand the I work as something that is done, and not a place where one goes.
[CAPTION: Remote work is the new labor paradigm.]
All this that had been brewing for years was accelerated by the COVID, which made remote work the new norm.
We had to be confined, we had to learn to work remotely. And I was ready. That was what turned us into a unicorn.
When you founded your company (2012) remote work was something that sounded like something very remote to many. How did you get into that world?
Actually, I founded the company as an internal tool to solve a problem that I had as an entrepreneur: people from many parts of the world and little visibility of what was happening in the company.
Obviously, with remote teams you have to solve challenges of intelligent trust, collaboration and accountability.
I had this problem and later I realized that it was a problem that many companies had and that it was a matter of time before it was normalized. With the COVID the problem spread to the middle of the universe.
Do you think telework normalization took too long to arrive?
Yes, because it was absurd that, being in the digital age, the only thing that would not have changed over the years with the same level of acceleration was the way we work and the implementation of remote work.
We were in the digital age and we kept thinking that we had to go to an office, when if you do computer-based work it is quite obvious that it does not matter if you set up the computer in your office, in a coworking, at home or wherever you have desire.
It made a lot of sense for this to happen because that added to a very big problem in the labor market, and that is that companies complained and continue to complain that they cannot find people with the skills they need, but there are millions of unemployed in the world.
There are people who want to work and desperate companies looking for talent, how can you solve that? You solve it by connecting talent with opportunities and creating platforms.
[CAPTION: Moschini says that the implementation of remote work was something he had been looking forward to for a long time.]
Now that it has been seen that companies can work with their collaborators remotely, they also realized that they can hire talent anywhere in the world.
What inspired you to create a platform that would connect that talent with hiring opportunities?
I was inspired by Match.com because I met my ex-husband there.
I reflected on the algorithms that allow you - through data and artificial intelligence - to find the person you need to do a job, and on the lack of representation in the job market.
The job boards did not capitalize on this data, these people were invisible to those who wanted to hire them.
I realized that this had to be solved because it was absurd that companies wanted to hire and that people wanted to work and that the tips were not found.
You also created a company (SheWorks!) to hire more women on flexible terms. What are the biggest challenges that women face in the world of work for you?
For starters, women - who today achieve the highest number of university degrees, masters and doctorates - sadly get paid less (30% less). And 51% (global figure) when they have babies quit their job due to lack of flexibility.
So you have a market that expels talent from half the universe, which also happens to be the most skilled half.
Then we see that there are no women in leadership positions. And of course, it is obvious, if we are expelled from the system we will never reach leadership positions.
It was a very obvious question that we had to create something that would allow companies to find the talent of women, who were leaving work and their careers because they could not do what they wanted the most while being close to the people who wanted more (that's a literal phrase a woman at SheWorks told me!)
The sector you work in is predominantly male. What is it like for you to be at the forefront of a technological unicorn and also to be the first Latin American woman to do so?
I hope, as Kamala Harris says, to be the first but not the last. In fact, one of my goals this year is to help other female entrepreneurs raise capital for their projects.
[CAPTION: "True empowerment of women begins with the wallet," says Moschini.]
I have the opportunity and the responsibility to share the learning I had because, sadly, women get capital from a dropper. Only 0.4% of the capital of investment funds goes to women entrepreneurs.
I raised capital in an unconventional way, breaking a dynamic that limited women's access to capital. I raised nearly $30 million by appealing to individual investors globally.
For this I launched the first Global Private Offering, which is a campaign where individual investors can invest from US$5,000 in a pre-IPO (initial public offering) company.
This is how my company became a unicorn and we “hacked" the system, we overcame the gender bias in funding.
You talk about helping other entrepreneurs. What does the empowerment of women mean to you?
I believe that true empowerment always begins with the wallet.
We don't need to be told that we have a lot of intention and energy and that we are motivated. We need money and contracts, not intentions.
Everyone talks about helping to close the gap, but the only answer to that is to facilitate financing. We lack neither intention, nor talent, nor preparation. What we lack is money.
It’s necessary to bet on women who want to change the world, there are many of them. We need those who support them from the financial and economic point of view.
But it is a rarity that they invest in women and it’s even less common in Latin America.
In your opinion, what are the main factors of this exclusion towards women?
There are two important factors. On the one hand, the corporate culture. On the other, our attitude towards that culture that surrounds us.
There must be more investment in women and better policies that make us examples, especially in Latin America.
Although female leadership is fashionable, female leaders are still perceived as antipatic.
[CAPTION: Silvina Moschini hopes to release the "Skirt the Rules” book soon, on the gender gap in the business world.]
Being assertive, being successful, asking for money, and making money makes people uncomfortable. And it costs us women a lot because the model with which we were educated does not attribute to us the capacities of traditional leadership.
All this makes them give us less money because they do not see in us a role where they believe that we can make very large companies. And we are always sorry, we are ashamed to ask for money. That must be changed because without money you cannot do great companies.
I believe that women have a huge challenge that is our own limitations, the famous impostor syndrome.
We always arrive apologizing and looking like we stole the cat's food: "I got here by mistake", "someone didn't notice and I was lucky", and so on.
Luck always helps, but also having what it takes and hard work.
Your work has resulted in a unicorn, what comes next?
The unicorn thing is an important milestone because it gives us the opportunity to do bigger things. And success follows success. When things start to go well, everything becomes much easier.
The difficult thing is not what comes next. The first million is more difficult than the next billion, I guarantee that, because when you are reaching the first million there are few people who believe you.
My next goal is to go public at the end of the year. It is the opportunity to give enormous value to those people who trusted me, the investors and my team.