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Study Shows Female-Founded Tech Companies Excel in Employee Satisfaction and Retention

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A new study finds employees in companies with female founders report being happier with their work/life balance, company diversity, and salary compensation, as well as staying in their roles longer, compared to male-founded tech companies. 

The CTO Club carried out the study, which analysed 20 of the fastest-growing technology companies from around the world with female and male founders. Looking at Glassdoor.com, scores were given by employees on each category of company culture, diversity, work/life balance, compensation and career progression. Data on the median average tenure of employees was gathered from LinkedIn.

According to the data, compared with male-founded companies, female-founded tech companies report higher employee satisfaction for diversity and inclusion (4.1 vs 3.8), work-life balance (4 vs 3.9), and compensation (3.8 vs 3.7). Employees at female-founded companies stayed on average for 8 months longer than employees at male-founded companies (3 years vs 2.4 years)

Employees at male-founded companies report being happier with company culture (3.9 vs 3.8) and career progression opportunities (3.6 vs 3.5) than those at female-founded companies.

Preply, founded by Kirill Bigai, who remains CEO, came first out of the 20 companies with an average score of 4.3 for all categories. It was followed by cleaner lifestyle products company Oura, with 4.2. Female-founded Canva, Clue, and Verge Genomics also followed with a score of 4.2, making up the top 5 companies reporting the highest employee satisfaction.

The study also looked into employee approval for companies where the founder has remained in the CEO position, and there was no difference between male-led and female-led companies. Verge Genomics, led by Alice Zhang, is the only company to report 100% CEO approval from employees.

Katie Sanders, senior editor of The CTO Club, said: “Our research shows female leadership fosters an environment of empowerment, diversity, and inclusivity. When women lead, they bring a unique and vital perspective that cultivates a space where every employee, regardless of gender, feels represented and inspired. This is not just about having role models but about creating a culture where the diversity of thought and experience is valued and leveraged to drive innovation and growth.

“A lesson all tech leaders can take from the results of this study is recognising flexible work arrangements and the importance of personal time. This not only reduces burnout but also significantly enhances job satisfaction, underscoring the fact that understanding and empathy are critical components of effective leadership.”

Carta reports that women made up just 11.1% of all founders in the tech space last year. In the sector where VCs are most likely to invest in new startups, barely one in 10 new founders was a woman. 

Kamales Lardi, Managing Director and President of the Board of Directors of experience innovation firm Valtech Switzerland, spoke to The CTO Club: “We have come a long way since I started in the 1990s, but there is still a significant diversity gap in the tech industry. Tech companies should continue to implement a variety of practices to reduce bias in the recruitment process, including unconscious bias training, blind hiring, and flexible working arrangements.” 

“I believe it is important to recognise that increasing diversity in tech is an ongoing process, not a one-time event, and requires commitment and action from leadership and all employees. The recent tech company layoffs that have been announced represent an alarming trend in terms of their disproportionate impact on women and minorities, who are already underrepresented in many tech firms’ workforces and could have far-reaching consequences, both now and in the future.”

Natalie Rutgers, VP of Product Growth at speech-AI platform Deepgram, adds, “As a woman in the tech and startup world, rooms are often full of men with very little female representation in technical roles. I was lucky that Deepgram has been welcoming to all from the start and honours individuals who are brave in asking hard questions.”

“Often, women prefer to showcase their knowledge and expertise before revealing their shortcomings, but I’ve learned that being brave enough to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m not familiar with that technology or technique. Can you help me understand this?” can propel you to the next level in your personal growth.”

Rank (by average across all categories)

Female founder

Company

Location

Total score out of 5

1

Melanie Perkins

Canva

Sydney, Australia

4.2

2

Ida Tin

Clue

Berlin, Germany

4.2

3

Alice Zhang

Verge Genomics

San Francisco, US

4.2

4

Julia Hartz

Eventbrite

San Francisco, US

4.0

5

Tania Boler

Elvie

London, UK

3.9

6

Anne Boden

Starling Bank

London, UK

3.9

7

Leah Busque

TaskRabbit

San Francisco, US

3.7

8

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Bumble

London, UK

3.6

9

Carrie SiuButt

SimpleHealth

New York, US

3.3

10

Limor Fried

Adafruit Industries

New York, US

3.2

 

Rank (by average across all categories)

Male founder

Company

Location

Total score out of 5

1

Kirill Bigai

Preply

Brookline, US

4.3

2

Petteri Lahtela, Kari Kivelä, and Markku Koskela

Oura

Oulu, Finland

4.2

3

Mads Bonde and Michael Bodekaer Jensen

Labster

Copenhagen, Denmark

3.8

4

Johnny Boufarhat

Hopin

UK

3.8

5

Dave Vasen

Brightwheel

San Francisco, US

3.7

6

Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson

Nuro

Mountain View, US

3.7

7

Melbourne O’Banion

Bestow

Dallas, US

3.7

8

Dr Harry Ritter

Alma

New York, US

3.5

9

Saahil Goel

Shiprocket

New Delhi, India

3.4

10

Danny Maloney

Tailwind

Oklahoma City, United States

3.4

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