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Hilda Liswani, WeBloom CEO and founder, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #314 - Hilda Liswani: Prioritizing Diversity and Inclusion in Switzerland

Hilda Liswani

April 10, 2023

05:31 - The current state of gender diversity in Switzerland

9:00 - Obstacles women face in the workplace

11:12 - Are there ways to fix this problem?

20:34 - Benefits of diverse teams

23:10 - 3 ways to make Switzerland more diverse

About Hilda Liswani

The daughter of a Namibian diplomat, Hilda Liswani has lived in many places, including South Africa, Ethiopia, and the UK. The experience of always being an outsider looking in has shaped her perspective toward diversity and inclusion: she was made to realize how boundless the world is, and how opportunities present themselves to you once you change your mindset. Hilda has a degree in International relations from the Nottingham University of Trent and an MSc from the University of London in Migration Mobility development. Nowadays she is the CEO and founder of WeBloom, a non-profit focused on building gender equality in Switzerland within policy making and institutions. 

WeBloom is a non-profit association based in Zurich, Switzerland, whose focus is to adopt inclusion and sustainable methods towards diversity in Swiss work environments, specifically within the tech industry, with a focus on venture capital, academic institutions, founders and corporates to address systemic challenges within technological innovation. According to research WeBloom conducted in 2022, only 1.9% of seed funding only went to female founders —  this shows us where change most needs to take place.

Hilda believes that Switzerland is already bridging the diversity gap and is further ahead than many other European countries. However, there is still a way to go, and what will ignite that change is economic inclusion and actively changing people’s mindsets, especially for women and minorities, to shift their internalized cultural perspectives. WeBloom conducted another study where they found that 17% of Swiss people have negative feelings towards black people, and 21% towards Muslim people, which naturally is also felt in the workplace. Policy makers and employers should not attempt to fix this issue through setting quotas, because making people feel like they’re a quota hire is  both disheartening and unsustainable in the long-term. Instead, employers should look to improve their unbiased hiring practices, to ensure preconceived notions of “the other” do not prevent them from hiring the best person for the job.

Some additional solutions Hilda suggests are prioritizing financing female founders and integrating DAI (Diversity and Inclusion) initiatives in the workplace that provide clear and actionable information.

Memorable quotes:

“Diverse teams yield about 32% more financial returns in terms of profit and are also more effective in  avoiding harmful design and development.” 

“Only 20% of entrepreneurs in Switzerland are female, and only 10% of those are in tech. Things are not faring so great right now, but a lot of opportunities are available for change.”

This episode was co-produced by Startup Days 2023. Click here to purchase your ticket now.

To listen to the other episode in our startup days 2023 bonus series, check out our conversations with Christoph Bertschi, Arman Anatürk, Fajer Mushtaq, Philippe Teissonniere and Fabian Mächler.

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