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Silvina Moschini. Foto: Flickr SheWorks!
Silvina Moschini. Foto: Flickr SheWorks!

Silvina Moschini: teleworking, the gender gap and the struggle for human rights

Part 1 of the interview with Silvina Moschini, the CEO of Transparent Business, SheWorks! and Yandiki, who is using the fourth industrial revolution to close…

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Last December, the World Economic Forum published its annual report on gender parity. It showed that in the dimensions of access to education and health, gender equity has been achieved almost globally, but that, in contrast, in political representation we still have a long way to go and there has been a setback in terms of the possibility for men and women to have access to work under equal conditions and with the same level of income.

As the WEF explains, one of the main reasons for this is the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. Because women have historically been relegated from training in science, technology and mathematics, the space in which women with low levels of education have tended to take refuge has been manual work, which has been increasingly reduced due to automation. And this is a trend (automation) that is expected to continue.

But from the obstacles come the opportunities and Silvina Moschini, who says we are in the perfect storm, is taking advantage of them. Silvina Moschini is Argentinian, lives in Miami, travels constantly through Latin America for work and is a force, a tornado. CEO of three major technology companies, she has a personal mission to help close the gender gap in job opportunities and wage parity by making use of this same industrial revolution that has such disturbing sides.

The three companies he manages are Transparent Business, SheWorks! and Yandiki. Transparent Business is a technology platform that allows two things: transparency in the value of any remote work (how much do you have to charge for editing a video, how much does it cost to program or generate content for a website), which gives the tools necessary for anyone to negotiate for fair payment. The other thing that Transparent Business allows is that there is transparency in the processes of executing a job and in the coordination of the team that carries it out. This applies to both private companies and the public sector (which is the subject of the second part of this interview).

Yandiki and SheWorks! use the technology of Transparent Business focusing on two different groups of people: Yandiki is a specialized platform in the creative sector that, in addition to all the services of Transparent Business, unites specialists with employers who are looking for people with a high level of skill. SheWorks! also facilitates the meeting between women (exclusively) and companies, but it also has a very strong training component (higher than in the other two platforms). In SheWorks! women have access to training in various soft skills and abilities needed for remote work, allowing them to link up with a growing economic sector where women have more ground to gain.

As if this were not enough, Silvina Moschini is involved in dozens of projects with governments (Colombia, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Panama, Saudi Arabia), international organizations (such as the Inter-American Development Bank) and entrepreneurship accelerators to continue expanding this path that seeks to put the fourth industrial revolution at the service of all.

Silvina Moschini. Foto: Flickr SheWorks!

The World Economic Forum's report on gender parity, which came out a few weeks ago, says that the gender gap in wages and access to work has grown in the wake of the fourth industrial revolution. How do you see the growth of that gap in the United States and Latin America, since you are in constant dialogue with both sides?

There are two things: women today achieve more university degrees, masters and doctorates than men. That is to say that in a high stratum women today study and achieve higher accreditations than men. That's an indicator that shows you that it's sad, and not only for women, but it's unwise for the economy to have highly trained talent disconnected from the market.

If education is achieved, changing the work model makes these women more likely to add value to the economy. Simply because they get more education. Not to mention that we work much harder, that's another point. So what we don't want to happen is that, having a high level of education, there is a labor market that has not yet been transformed at the speed that it should be transformed even though, thanks to the explosion of the Gig Economy, it is being transformed more and more and narrowing the gap. The change in the engagement model is what has the greatest impact on the gap.

51% of women with children are leaving their jobs due to lack of flexibility. We are living in the digital age: it is absurd, wherever you look at it: educated people, more educated than men, today abandoning their jobs because companies still work with analog models, like in the Flintstones' era, waiting for people to go warm the chair to show they are working.

So I think there's a very important area of opportunity there. What happens with this 51% who leave their jobs when they have children, is that there is not a "pipeline" of women to reach leadership positions. It's a whole thing that is rooted in much more than that: if you want to have women in leadership positions you have to change the ways you work with these women so that they don't have to choose between work and family.

This happens not only in the United States, which happens and happens a lot. The United States is not necessarily much more advanced than Latin America: Colombia, for example, has a remote work pact, Costa Rica passed a telework law, Mexico has a bill. The United States has nothing.

Our technology, for example, is used by the Ministry of Labor of Saudi Arabia, to create the Telework Saudi program, because in Saudi Arabia women cannot work in mixed environments, but they can telework. So an ultra-conservative country is more advanced in teleworking, with a cultural restriction that women cannot be mixed with men. Anyway, we don't come in through the big door, we come in through the window, but you give women flexibility.

I think that sometimes innovation comes from the least expected places and sometimes you tend to look at America as the big thing and America innovates very little, it's the big companies. Real innovation doesn't come from big companies. Innovation comes from people who don't necessarily have the resources, but the creativity. There is rarely innovation in big countries or big companies. We in Latin America innovate because we have to make a living. In this Colombia is a great example of innovation in what it has to do with alternative work models, I believe that it is necessary to carry it out a lot in Latin America, the United States also has an area of opportunity in digitizing work models.

I think this is going to happen and it is going to happen very fast for different reasons: one is the issue that we are living the perfect storm for the digital transformation: cloud technology, machine learning, data science, on-demand economy, globalization of the economy, gig economy, etc. But most important of all is: increased environmental awareness, increased awareness of social responsibility and demographic change: the millenials: 75% of the workforce in the next 5 years.

These young people, who are so criticized, are the ones who are going to improve and transform the labor market, because they are not going to want to work for a company that does not give them the opportunities they demand, which are opportunities with social impact, respect, with the possibility of working with people who are different from you: with diversity.

And diversity is not only women, it is being with people who think differently politically, with different sexual inclinations, with different views of the world, who can enrich because they represent the universe. And the universe is not white guys. This is a topic where we have to move from bullshit to action. Everybody's talking about Girl Power. All right: fund them, finance them, give them flexibility, support the things that women need. In the end we don't need charity, we need opportunity.

Silvina Moschini. Foto: Flickr SheWorks!
The fight for women's rights is the fight for everyone's rights.

For human rights. It is not a women's issue.

What happens is that when the first frameworks of labour laws were put together, women were not part of the labour market. Sixty years ago there was no Internet, women were not an active part of the workforce, so the laws were made by men as best suited to the little information they had. That is why it is imperative that the labour market be digitally educated, because we are still working in an analogous way, as when there was no internet, and forcing women to have a double burden.

And that does not mean that this is the solution to everything, what should be the solution is to culturally transform the whole society so that there is a much more equitable division of roles.

One of the spaces where SheWorks! has the most impact is empowering women through the use of technologies, but then we have the contrast with the fact that women have historically been less involved in technology and science education, which makes the gender gap tend to widen. There's a tension there. How do you see it?

I think there are two views. Because, for example, I'm a woman, I didn't study technology and I lead a technology company. So I think you have to demystify that to lead technology companies you have to be a programmer: you have to be a good leader and understand what technology can do for you or by you. I'm a clear example of that because I studied communications and yet I run a company that is very, very, high-tech: fully distributed, cloud-based, using technology on the inside (to manage our own teams) and to help other companies do the same.

So, one of the things is to demystify what it is to work in technology, because you can have a job being a technology operator, a programmer and in that I do believe there is a gap that you have to work more from early ages. Parents and the education system have to work on this from kindergarten. They have to show them that they can do what they want, otherwise they stop feeling capable.

This syndrome of inadequacy is what later on, when they are older, becomes the syndrome of the impostor, which makes women negotiate worse, which pays you less. Because there is a plot there: one, we need data transparency. As there is no data transparency in what is paid for a position, you do not know how much you have to negotiate for. This issue of data transparency is important. Another one, women, culturally, we have a tendency to be much more... in Argentina they call it "modocitas". Because if we say: "Look, my position is worth so much, my skills are worth so much", then they treat you like crazy: "She's not nice".

This has a great impact on women's ability to negotiate, to get adequate compensation and to get into places that we think are men's places, as is the case with technology. But by breaking that barrier and creating much more inclusive environments that allow for flexibility, that allow you not to have to get into a male programmer's top club, replicating it with your own community, you can do it.

What is a woman in technology? I am, and I'm not a programmer. There are hundreds of thousands of girls who work in technology without being technical. And the other thing has to do with this thing that what you study is what you do. Technology allows you to work on anything, even things that have nothing to do with technology. For example, if you're a journalist and you work for a newspaper, you use technology for your work, because it allows you to do interviews, but it doesn't mean you work in technology. In that case you don't create a dilemma or a contradiction, because you have technology per se as an end, with experts in tech (technical or non-technical) and then how technology is an opportunity facilitator: it brings you the clients and allows you to work with them with transparency.

In this part what we provide is technology that, by bringing real transparency, the ability to audit, to see what is happening in the work process, you solve the three problems that make the remote work not take off, which are: trust, engagement and accountability.

Silvina Moschini. Foto: Flickr SheWorks!

In relation to Yandiki, what distinguishes it from SheWorks! apart from the fact that SheWorks! has a very clear emphasis on working with women, is that Yandiki has an emphasis on the creative industry and makes very explicit the curatorship of the people they bring to work on the platform. How does this affect gender parity in the creative field?  

Yandiki is the platform of the orange economy. It does have a curatorship, all of them do, because you need to generate a baseline of knowledge and practical results. You go through an analytical test, a test to be able to measure the proficiency in English, they also cure the profiles, to see the quality of the work: because if not, what you create is a flea market, where qualified talent is overshadowed by unqualified talent.

At SheWorks! it's the same thing. What happens is that at SheWorks! we are looking to bring education. The Yandiki's are already more prepared, because we saw that in the orange economy everything that has to do with the creative industry (that goes from designers, content creators, content amplifiers, developers of what you want) is much more mature for remote work. Because historically advertising agencies, production companies, all worked with distributed teams and sold services to companies. So that was a much more mature model.

What we wanted to do was tell a more senior segment of people: "Today we can articulate opportunities of the orange economy with companies anywhere in the world". And these people are ready: they can take more upskilling, because today there are skills that were not necessary before, or training in remote work, which we will give them too.

In the case of SheWorks! we have two targets: the younger girls and the moms, or the older ones who want flexibility... I say moms because it typifies a little the woman between 35 and 40 years old who gets tired of her work in a company, who says "I'm tired of having to be getting up, mobilizing, doing these juggling acts to take my kids to school or to be able to balance my personal life, or I want to go live in Barranquilla and not be in Bogota", or wherever you can think of.

In that case we have these girls who are more senior, are more ready, and are the ones who would work for any company in the world and want to work flexibly because they want to work on their own terms. But we also have the new generation of women who today don't have the skills, but with a little digital upskilling in these things that give you the skills you need, they can prepare themselves. And in that case we are looking to create internships.

This works as a base: think of Transparent Business as a technology and the use case: Yandiki, SheWorks!, Guatemala TalentXChange, whatever, is the same technology mounted with a different branding. And talent on top.

That is why it is a dual business model where you have a talent assessment service, which is a new generation recruiter, leveraged by artificial intelligence, data to make the matches, transparent technology to manage remote teams and you have a model that is software assessment service, that if you find yourself people because you want to add them, you can add them and make exponential business models.

Our technology that enables you to build exponential organizations so that you can use talent on demand: be it talent that we give you via Yandiki (men and women) for orange economy, SheWorks (women) orange economy, plus technology, plus other careers that we will be adding.

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