Are you a woman in NYC Tech and interested in participating in this series? Make sure to read the whole article…
Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders, or in management positions at major companies. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game? In this series, we speak with some of the top women in tech in New York as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.
Today we hear from entrepreneur Erika Mozes and her journey to cofounding Hyr, the hiring and staffing platform. Beginning a career as a lobbyist Erika found herself working for large corporations like Coca-Cola an McDonalds before eventually moving to NYC to start Hyr.
Erika Mozes of Hyr
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
My background could not be more of a polar opposite from startup life. In my early career, I was a political staffer, which then evolved into executive roles with multinationals, as a lobbyist and communications professional. I worked and climbed that corporate ladder for nearly 15 years. It was at my last corporate role, at McDonald’s, that I realized there was a better way to solve the labor issues faced by so many businesses that employ hourly paid workers. At almost 40 years old, I ventured into the Startup world – something I never thought would be a career choice. I moved to NYC in February of 2016 and immediately started delving into the amazing and supportive world of the NYC tech ecosystem. In just over a year, my cofounders and I have been lucky enough to attend, pitch and participate in countless events. NYC has some wonderful and supportive women led organizations seeking to support women founders – like SheWorx, Monarq Moguls and conferences like MentorHER. I have met and maintained relationships with some awesome women founders this way.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
Hmm. This is a really interesting question. I don’t think I have ever been asked what the advantages are of being a woman in tech. I do believe that having a woman founder helps to set a company apart in the crowd…Hyr that HR tech company with a female cofounder. Although, thankfully the novelty of being a woman founder is wearing off. I have also been able to participate in some great conferences and events supporting women founders, which has been a great growth experience for me, and for Hyr.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other women who have her back.” That is what one thing we can do to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York. Yet, both men and women need to talk about why there is a lack of women in tech and venture capital from an aggressive, how do we change it perspective, instead of passively asking how and when it will change. Let’s all ensure to encourage women to dream big and be strong and assertive – and while we are at it, let’s help seed their ideas. I know I will, once I have the means to do so.
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
Diversity is when we reach the point that we do not feel like the only woman (or insert any under-represented group here) in the room. This doesn’t just mean physical representation – it is a way of thinking. A while back I read this amazing article about women in the White House. They actively had to start supporting each other in meetings and designating praise for each other, to cut through the noise and get their (in this case male) colleagues to pay attention. In tech, there is an opportunity. Perhaps there is a way to eliminate gender and minority bias in decision making and action – by using tech – such as this kickass company that I met recently at a pitch competition, Ballooner.
That said, I truly believe that we need to encourage more diversity in tech at the early stages of kids’ lives, and once those kids grow up to enter the workforce we will see more significant change.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
Women represent over half of the population, yet there is a serious discrepancy when it comes to women being represented in senior roles of organizations. Yet consistent studies have shown that having more women in leadership positions equal better financial and operational results. But outside of these obvious facts, young men and women need to grow up seeing role models in these roles. Strong, smart, career driven women. Let’s encourage her to code, or get an MBA, instead of the stereotypical roles I was taught to grow into.
How do you see the future of teams and interactions in a diverse environment and what implications will this have?
I think this is a leading question that implies that adding diversity to a team should somehow change that team’s dynamic. I don’t believe that teams need to change if they already treat all team members with respect and camaraderie.
How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?
Breaking into a male-dominated industry is not easy, so support is key. I have been lucky to have a few very important mentors in my career who helped me and my confidence level, and who supported me when I was down. I thought it was a weakness to ask for that support, but it has made me such a better, well-rounded person. Support and mentor a woman you believe in. Let’s all help each other instead of competing with each other — instead of reinforcing, or justifying bad behavior.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
I mentioned a few of the great ones I have had the opportunity to be involved with already – SheWorx and Monarq Moguls – but there is also SoGal Ventures and Built by Girls who are incredibly supportive of women entrepreneurs.
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
Everything. I am Canadian, and it makes me so proud to watch Canada’s proudly feminist Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. He is not only participating in the discussion, but leading it. And that is how we will all reach effective change.
Personally, I can also tell you about my feminist partner and cofounder, Josh. It was his support that helped turn me into a co-founder and entrepreneur. As former lobbyist and communications consultant you are paid to sell your ideas. And I did very well at selling my ideas. I was living my own version of a “lifestyle business.” Working for large multinational corporations, you make a certain amount of money and live well. But you are not taking a risk and don’t cash out on that reward. But more important, you only have so much control and responsibility. It was one of those idea’s, while sitting on a patio with Josh, that lead to Hyr. What if there was an on-demand model for shift work? Despite, it took months for me quit my other job and take the leap. The idea of giving up a by-weekly paycheck and benefits was very scary. But Josh made sure to keep encouraging me, and I can’t thank him enough for giving me the push.
I am not afraid to say that it was Josh’s support, which helped get me here. I am a strong woman, but my partner makes me even stronger.
Let’s encourage men in the discussion of diversity, because with them we all become stronger. It does not take anything away from our strong female voices. It helps amplifies it.
The team at AlleyWatch believes it’s important to have an inclusive discussion around the challenges facing women in tech along with highlighting the work of the female entrepreneurs that have made NYC one of the best places for women in tech according to some recent studies. That’s why we are running this series that showcases women in tech in New York.
If you are a female founder in NYC working in tech and interested in participating in the series please visit this link or click on the image above.
Please feel free to pass this on to any women in NYC that you feel should be considered for the series. Thank you.