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  • Writer's pictureChristine Nikander

An executive statement from our CEO for International Women's Day 2024

I hope that by the time I retire, there will be nothing out of the ordinary about a fully female-funded, female-founded, and female-led company. Until then, I will keep on picking to walk the harder path.

 

Someone recently asked me: “What makes Palsa & Pulk different from all the other sustainability consultancies out there? Why not just go work at a consultancy that already exists?” I got what they meant. The sustainability consultancy market is a tough nut to crack, and working somewhere else would for sure be easier than hustling week after week on a lean budget.

 

There are several things that are unique about Palsa & Pulk (which is something I should probably talk about more often), but the thing that is perhaps the most important to me is the space we are trying to create in this market for people that are typically excluded.

 

I did not set up Palsa & Pulk to become rich, to work less, or to become famous. I set it up with the hope of one day making a living, doing work I believe in, with people I believe in. And I happen to believe deeply in the capabilities of women, first-generation university graduates, and other minority groups that are typically laughed out of the room before they are even given the chance to show what they can do.

 

I started my career at a corporate law firm at the age of 22. I showed up to work giving the job my all for years. I listened to all the not so wonderful things young women are somehow expected to listen to in male-dominated fields. I took note of who knew how to do what, how much attention and credit they were given, and somehow could not shake the feeling that we really are playing an awfully rigged game. At some point, it also became clear to me that continuing to come into the office every day was not going to change anything about that. No one was willing to give me enough space or agency for that.

 

Sadly the feeling I had was not just a feeling, the “rigged game” is a lived reality:

📣 In 2022, the gender pay gap in the EU was 12.7%, and the gender pension gap was 27%.

📣 In the EU, only 30% of startup entrepreneurs are women.

📣 In 2022, companies that were founded solely by women only received 2% of all venture capital investments globally and only around 15% of all VC “cheque-writers” were women.

📣 In the EU, only 30.6% of the board members of large publicly listed companies are women.

📣 In 2023, only 7% or 35 of the “Fortune 500 Europe” companies were led by female CEOs.

📣 At the current rate, it will take 130 years to close the overall gender gap.

 

If I ever become a grandmother, I want my grandchildren to find it difficult to believe that there is anything special about a female-founded and women-led company. I hope there will be nothing unusual to them about saying: “My grandmother was the CEO of a company she founded herself. She hired a diverse group of people because they were the best at their jobs, and it was good for business.”



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