Tag Archives: chooks

Promises to tomorrow #36 #Equity

I am living in multiple liminal spaces. There are comings and goings all around me. The call and response to move and to be still. The ever present need to have feet firmly planted.  This space is a threshold to reflect on the now and bring a promise to tomorrow from the now.  In these in-between times my other lives continue to unfold. Relationships don’t fall away, work commitments wane. Invitations for change-making and sharing ideas bubble on through the cracks.  Switching between midwifery to new ventures in the public domain to midwifery of another kind in the private.  So for today’s post I am sharing my response to a call to contribute in the public domain. In marketing terms this might be thought of a cross promotion, but it is an endeavour to bring all of me to all of the liminal spaces in my life and so why not on these pages too?

I first got introduced to equity as a model of growth by Dr Michael McAfee of PolicyLink.  This week I am going to be talking about a movement I have founded.  Here is what I am planning to say. I am using my five minutes for speculative fiction.

Date: September 2027 Headline: SA achieves another first

South Australia has become the first place in the world to reach 50% of investment, and return on that investment, going to women. Ten years ago SA set a 50:50 target – gender equity in investment for women in startups and social enterprises.

The levers used to get this result included: changes in procurement policies, education to get more girls into STEM and coding, capital – from venture capital to impact investing – setting their own gender targets, more women in board rooms and around the cabinet table.

Industry leaders, local and State government, set the foundations for early wins by all signing the panel pledge for gender balance at their conferences and events. Councils and State entities added it as a criteria in tender documents for global conventions wanting to use their venues. After all: “if you can’t see it you can’t be it”. Having women visible, publicly acclaimed, out front, all the time, no exceptions, made an impact and is now the norm.

The State Procurement Board set targets for social enterprises, BCorps and co-ops to win contracts. It was amazing how quickly business adjusted, eager to showcase their capabilities & gender credentials as part of their transition to the on purpose economy.

A little tougher, but achieved, was getting more women onto the runway for startups. Startmate and Techstars were early adopters and got 50% women into their second and third South Australian rounds. While the research showed in 2017 you only needed half as much investment in female founded startups to double your money, up until then no-one had cracked the code on how to make it happen.

There were collaborations between startups and social enterprises that ignited change at scale. From nanotechnology for monitoring the well-being of remote populations through to home kitchens creating nutritional meals for people with disabilities and their carers – these ideas started here – with women and with investment. Digitising the “blue book” by pairing it with SA’s world class Datalink, built and transferred knowledge about child development, established real time data and brought agile funding and resource delivery, when and where it was needed most. Consequently, SA became famous for its non-invasive early intervention approach to child protection.

The gender pay gap was always lowest in South Australia and the Equal Opportunity Commissioner was able to point to the Google 2017 class action to help spur on the tech and creative industries who had always lagged behind. SA reached gender wage parity in 2025 and despite a few laggers, leaders pointed to the economic truth: diversity equals dollars and gender was a no brainer, truly low hanging fruit.

There are still some sticking points in the eco-system: In 2017 there were 4% of women in venture capital it is now 15%. The number of women CEOs in start ups hasn’t shifted from 30% since 2022, and the number of women academics researching and growing graduates for the on purpose economy continues to oscillate around 35 – 40% – while there is plenty to celebrate in 2027 we ain’t there yet!

If you want to know more about how SA got these results, look around the town for VR clips embedded in the landscape telling stories of women innovators and entrepreneurs. Tap any leader – male or female – and ask them how they got involved and what they did to contribute. It has been a collective effort fuelled by passion, good ideas, imagination, wisdom – trading in trust, built on relationships and in a spirit of generosity, fostered by women and men who wanted to unlock and unleash the potential of South Australia.

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SA has been the home of many first’s for women that then went global or national – first in Australia for women to get the vote, first in the Westminster system for women to earn the right to stand for Parliament, first State to have a female Supreme Court Judge and first woman governor, SA was first state to have secondary school for girls, University of Adelaide was first in Australia to accept women students, first place for a woman police officer in the British empire, first hospital for mothers and babies in Australia, first woman elected to local government, first sex discrimination act in Australia, first place in the Commonwealth to legislate against rape in marriage. We had the first women wharfies, the first woman fork-lift driver, and the first woman Ombudsman.

And what have I got to do with all of this? I am the founder of Chooks. Chooks is emerging as an independent intermediary– building connections online and face to face, change-making through advocacy, policy advice and collaborations to nurture the transition to a profitable on purpose economy and a meaningful on purpose community. We are leaving behind single definition problems and linear solutions to appreciating complexity and working at systems level by using the levers that already exist or getting some out of the way and making new ones.

Launched in May this year as a humble self- organising closed facebook group of 100. This week we have reached 600, clearly a need being filled. Chooks is rooted in our history and our potential. It is unapologetically South Australian. Chooks is not a lab, an incubator, an investor. Chooks is a movement, leading, driving and striving for inclusive entrepreneurship.

Like all movements Chooks converges culture, activism and knowledge.

If you share the desire for equity as a model for growth and want to apply a gender lens to get there, you are invited to join us.

Copy of Strut Your Stuff

Promises to tomorrow #21 Start

When I was writing my masters thesis (some time last century) my course director’s advice was: don’t wait til it’s right, just write. I think that same advice applies to many other things – just make a start and then you will have started. Building a movement for change starts with a ‘lone nut’, but it is the first followers, the early adopters who join in and then before you know it, only the laggers are to come.

Deep, down, in the dark

The start spark glows

Out of the shadows

A flame grows.

So I set a date and got together a few people and thoughts to explore the idea to launch a network, that I think has potential to become an intermediary and change the equation on investment to women innovators and entrepreneurs in start ups and social enterprises. Did you know women entrepreneurs bring in 20% more revenue with 50% less money invested? Did you know women-led tech start-ups have a 35% higher ROI when venture backed and generate 12% higher revenue than male-run start-ups?

Facts gathered

Come into the light

Are brought to mind

And into sight.

The launch date set, facts gathered and platforms activated, early signs were encouraging. Back lash on line within the start up community, a culture known for its high levels of immature testosterone and roaring risk taking set the scene and drove new people to the online community I was setting up. The gift of trolling was never more welcome. Turning negativity into an asset unleashed positive energy.

Magnetic attraction

Released energy

Founders, friends

And loving family.

Conversations along the way began to gather in momentum and extend way beyond my own sphere of influence. Sunlight is the best antiseptic and bringing evidence and experience together where they can be heard, considered, deliberated and turned into actions is a pathway to change. Holding the space for these conversations to be had and providing a few tools to help the conversation along is not that difficult. The friendly ambience of wine and nibbles, a coterie of intelligent women and men, a timeslot that supports workers and understands some people want to be home to tuck a toddler into bed. Creating a genuine space that fosters collaboration is helped along with mood lighting, warm smiles and small tables.

Glasses of wine

Cheese platters

Great questions

Real life matters.

A social media campaign helps to and finding others to follow and join in with you can be as simple as following them first, asking for their tips and inviting them to help you out. I usually respond positively to requests I get, but hardly ever ask others to help me … so trying to turn this around. It seems to be working and today the campaign hit 200 followers on twitter and 250 in the closed facebook group – they are mostly different audiences. In the last month the tweets have earned just over 9k impressions.

Following posts

Liking tweets

Curating data

Collecting deets

Chooks launched this week at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide. Let’s get this done – gender equity in investment for women innovators and entrepreneurs. My promise to tomorrow is to keep up the momentum, don’t wait to join someone else’s movement – start your own.