Interview with H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje: Women in the Startup Scene
(video link deleted because I started wearing a hijab in 2023)
On my journey to empower women across the word and make the workplace diverse and equal, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje about the pressing need for more equality in the tech sector and the steps he's taken to reduce bias. Known to many as the Prince of the Netherlands, in the tech scene, he's recognized as a massive influencer and a champion of gender equality.
From Diplomatic Duties to Diving into Digital Transformation
As we delved into the discussion, I was keen to find out how H H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje got involved in the tech realm. It turns out, his journey began as the Chief of Staff for Neelie Kroes, who was spearheading the digital agenda. Together, they embarked on transforming Europe into a digital powerhouse, which naturally led them to startups - the real changemakers of the digital age.
The Heart of Gender Equality in Technology One of the primary takeaways from our discussion was H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje perspective on gender diversity. He candidly admitted that while he always maintained gender diverse teams, his eyes were truly opened to the imbalance at a women's conference where he realized the stark gender disparities, particularly in venture capital situations. This observation led to the establishment of "FundRight", a collaboration of numerous venture capital firms dedicated to enhancing diversity in tech.
H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje observations about unconscious bias were particularly enlightening. He pointed out that most biases, particularly gender ones, are subtle. Only by acknowledging and understanding these biases can we hope to overcome them.
Countering Male Privilege and Addressing Unconscious Biases
During our conversation, H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje acknowledged the male-dominated landscape of the tech world. He mentioned his commitment to never being on an all-male panel as one of the ways he challenges the status quo. Interestingly, he emphasized the "unconscious biases" that often fly under the radar. It's not just about obvious biases but the subtle ones we carry without even realizing.
The Power of Female Founders
We then touched upon the role of female founders in tech. H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje highlighted how women entrepreneurs often drive change by addressing issues overlooked by their male counterparts, like femtech. By addressing female-centric problems, they create businesses and even entire sectors that wouldn't have otherwise existed. He also stressed the need for better inclusivity in product testing and development, noting how many products, including medications, are primarily tested on men, often overlooking how they might affect women differently.
Stepping Into the Tech World
H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje message for women with brilliant tech ideas was clear: start now! Ideas are just the beginning; what truly defines an entrepreneur is the ability to test, validate, and scale those ideas. He also underscored the importance of securing good advisors early on, especially as startups grow rapidly.
A Call to Biculturals
But it wasn't just about gender. We also discussed the importance of promoting cultural diversity in tech. H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje pointed out that the tech world is inherently international. So, for individuals with bicultural backgrounds, there's an opportunity to bridge multiple worlds, bringing a richness of perspectives that can be invaluable in the tech landscape.
What resonated with me was H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje genuine curiosity about other people's backgrounds and experiences. He highlighted the need for continued learning and being open to others, emphasizing that once you become aware of your biases, you cannot unsee them.
His advice for everyone, regardless of gender or cultural background? Surround yourself with people from diverse backgrounds, be curious, and always be willing to challenge and change your biases.
In an age where technology shapes our daily lives, it's crucial to ensure that the people creating these technologies represent a diverse array of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. With influential figures H.R.H Prince Constantijn van Oranje pushing for greater equality, there's hope that the tech world will truly represent all of us in the near future.