IWD 2024: In conversation with our founder

Chrissie, Eximia's founder speaking at ProShare event, 2023

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. It promotes a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination – a world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

We’ve explored the topic of diversity and inclusion throughout our insights blogs, and the importance of making your communications inclusive for everyone. We also regularly Challenge The Process to encourage you to develop a better work culture, stronger leadership and more efficient processes.

In celebration of women’s achievements, we thought we’d take this opportunity to speak to our female founder, Chrissie Davis. She shares her motivations for starting a business, and how she’s fostered an inclusive culture at Eximia.

Here’s what she had to say…

Q. Eximia is now in its 12th year. That’s amazing! What prompted you to start the business?

I was frustrated. I worked in-house and couldn’t understand why other people weren’t as excited about share plans and governance as I was. I realised the missing link was good communication – so I went on a mission to help engage, educate and empower people. I’m pleased that with an exceptional team at Eximia, we’re doing just that!

Q. Did you face many challenges starting out as a female business owner?

Over the years numerous challenges have emerged, and sadly, they’re not exclusive to me. Women in business encounter an unfair number of hurdles rooted in systemic biases and societal norms. Here’s a snapshot of my journey:

Perception and bias: I was 28 when I started out. Subconscious biases and perceptions of women being less capable or authoritative impacted how my business was seen.

Lack of role models: The scarcity of visible female leaders and entrepreneurs made the journey feel isolating.

Work-life balance: The myth of “having it all” is just that – a myth. Sometimes the business takes control, leaving little room for personal life. I had to sacrifice some things and be ok with that.

Misaligned power play: I’ve experienced inappropriate behaviour, ranging from subtle lewd comments to unwelcome advances. It was uncomfortable and at times derailed focus from the business.

Male-oriented business framework: The business world often overlooks the diverse experiences, perspectives, and needs of women. Undoing this bias takes time.

Q. How important was it to have a diverse team – including gender, race, ability and experience?

I called the business Eximia which is Latin for ‘exceptional’. And that is what I’ve sought in all my colleagues – everyone in the team excels in their skill. Over the years, our team has included people from all walks of life including gender, race, age and sexual orientation. Having so many diverse perspectives is one of our greatest strengths.

Q. How is your team dynamic – do you actively encourage a culture of inclusion and equity?

We live by our mantra to Challenge the Process, actively encouraging everyone to share their ideas on how to improve our team, service and brand. Of course, with so many great ideas circulating, we must prioritise – but we take everything on board. This approach means we’re constantly improving, and everyone feels a sense of achievement from seeing their ideas come to life.

Q. How far away from gender parity do you think we are in society? Can you see things improving?

There’s been a material shift over the course of my career, but there’s still a long way to go. We don’t have true gender parity. Our infrastructure needs redefining – in politics, business, education and health and safety.

In business, the stats show improvement in gender pay gaps and leadership representation, but we’re still in a tick box era so it feels quite forced. I’m confident we’ll reach a point where there’s a new normal, but it will require ongoing commitment and action from companies, governments, and individuals to create a level playing field.

Q. What advice would you give to women who want to launch their own business?

Chrissie’s top three:

  1. Build a support network and keep learning
  2. Celebrate your successes and be willing to adapt
  3. Prioritise selfcare because without it, you have nothing!

Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurship. Trust your instincts, stay true to your vision, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Want to meet our leadership team? Check out who we are and reach out for help on your next communications campaign!

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