How Women @ Jelly are educating and empowering
More than symbolic gestures
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the heart of Jellysmack’s values. The company has made it a priority to foster a culture of belonging from day one. More and more affinity groups are taking root to support and empower Jellysmackers. Today, we spotlight Women @ Jelly.
Women @ Jelly, Jellysmack’s affinity group for women and allies to share knowledge and provide access to mentoring, has officially launched. Group Lead Yaara Alon-Redl says it’s a group “focused on diversity and inclusion, the promotion of the equality of women, and community building with her inspiring colleagues.”
“Although Jellysmack is still a pretty young company,” (less than six years old at the time of writing) says Lenny Pomerantz, Director of Communications and Culture, “we didn’t want to wait any longer to build a platform for women and allies.”
Women @ Jelly Co-Lead Emilie De Neef, who joined the company just two months ago, thinks it’s a great opportunity to network with others who share her values and interests. She was part of a similar group in a previous company and found that it really improved her experience in the workplace.
Yaara has defined three pillars that encompass the mission and values of the group.
The first pillar of the affinity group is, naturally, affinity. That is, building a community that serves as a safe space and a cohesive group. “Having safety allows you to focus on what really matters,” says Yaara. It frees you to innovate instead of preserving the status quo. “In scale-up companies,” she adds, “it’s really key.”
Lenny echoes her sentiments on safety and inclusivity. “We have always strived to be a company where everyone feels like they belong and can be themselves.” Lenny, and other men, are an integral part of the group, which is open to everyone, no matter what gender they identify with. “Allyship is one of the most impactful tools to address the challenges that women face in the workplace today,” says Yaara.
The second pillar is using a collective and voice to advocate for equality both within the company and in society at large. Examples include: ensuring that HR policies and benefits are created with women’s needs in mind, retention, promotion, and leadership positions for women.
Women are already well-represented at Jellysmack, and the latest stats prove that: half of Jellysmackers are men and half are women. Emilie says that representation is important to her in the workplace. She says she actively applies to forward-looking companies that place importance on equality.
Lenny is helping women to be heard throughout the company by featuring them continuously in his content and internal communications. There are “portraits of inspiring women, articles, and videos,” just to name a few. “We want to highlight and celebrate the incredible women that make this company what it is every day.” Yaara adds: “We want to encourage and empower women to speak up and express their views.”
The third pillar is outreach, education, and mentorship. This includes external initiatives such as giving back to the community (immigrants, young women, women from underprivileged backgrounds) and attending public events. Mentorship was a big part of the draw for Emilie.
“I’m getting older,” she jokes, “but in a good way. I feel more confident now. Like I can be myself.” She wants to use her life experience to give back to the community and mentor more junior women. “I would’ve loved a group like this when I was younger,” she says.
International Women’s Rights Day
The launch of the group coincides with International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. “It’s very important because it’s the day after my birthday,” Emily says with a laugh. But all joking aside, the day has a deeper significance for her than commercialism gives it credit for. “It’s often seen as a day to give women flowers and discounts at retail stores. But, it’s not about the flowers,” she says. “I’d rather know what the stores are doing to promote equality for their female workers.”
Lenny too thinks that, although the day and the month are important opportunities, certain kinds of selective coverage miss the mark. “It shouldn’t be one day or one month a year,” he says. “It’s a year-long initiative, it’s a lifelong initiative.”
Yaara is setting the tone with her first event on March 8th. She has organized a night at the theater for Women @ Jellysmack located in Paris. The play, called Meanwhile, Simone Veil, takes its name from the French Holocaust survivor who become a trail-blazing politician, promoting sweeping reforms and advocating for women’s rights. It recounts 60 years of feminism in France “with a dose of humor.”
Other events are already on the docket. There will be a meet and greet with the Creators of the short film She’s that Woman, followed by a discussion of their creative process. Other activities on the horizon include a company-wide allyship workshop and an interactive experience based on Stephen Covey’s Zones of Influence, helping participants understand the fundamentals of self-management.
Kicking off the group’s activities educational experiences speaks volumes. “We want to make sure affinity group activities match up with the company’s values,” says Yaara, “and our personal values, of course.” Celebrating the day with a degree of solemnity, a dash of creativity, and a bit of fun: it’s the Jellysmack way.