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International Women’s Day 2023: Storyteq Chief of Staff Renée Reijnders on Balancing Work and Family

Mar 9, 2023
Today is a day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world and to recognise the progress that has been made in terms of gender equality. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the work that still needs to be done to create a more equitable society for everyone. Women all over the world often face a range of challenges, such as unequal pay, lack of recognition for their accomplishments and fewer opportunities for advancement. Here, Renée Reijnders gives her perspective on how life has changed since she was Storyteq’s fourth employee to now, where she is balancing life as a mother of three and the Chief of Staff to over 160 people at Storyteq.

It is no secret that the tech industry is still a largely male-dominated industry. Especially when it comes to leadership positions as less than 20% of them are filled by women. Of course, in the early days we didn’t look at statistics like these. I was the fourth employee of Storyteq and for a few years the only female employee in the company. 

It never bothered me, however. It’s quite an easy pitfall to turn into ‘just one of the guys’, rather than holding on to your own ways of approaching a problem. Back then we were way too busy trying to get this start-up off the ground. So, differences between the approaches of men and women didn’t matter as much. It was simply about getting the job done. 

I could have put in 50+ hours a week in the early days. But a lot has changed in the past 8 years of working for Storyteq. The biggest change: I’m now a proud mother of three kids. Naturally, I have to split my time between business and family. I work part-time so I get to spend time with my kids. 

There is a part of me that sometimes disapproves of this choice. I feel like I should be able to ‘do it all’ and have a full-time job while still setting aside enough time with my kids. But success looks different for women in the 21st century. For me personally, success is being both a mother and a career leader. 

As a feminist, I advocate for gender equality and support the right of all individuals to have equal opportunities and treatment, regardless of their gender. This does not, or at least should not, require a specific work schedule or lifestyle choice. 

Now more than ever, I can acknowledge that women often face additional obstacles and challenges in balancing work and family responsibilities. But their decisions should be respected and supported. There are many valid ways to be a parent and a worker, and all these choices should be valued equally. Who are we to decide people’s priorities? Who are we to force our version of success onto others?  

A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that companies with more women in leadership positions were more innovative and had higher financial returns. So it’s a win-win situation for everyone to get more awesome women in the company. 

But it doesn’t end there, in terms of a heterogeneous workforce. With Amsterdam being quite an international city, it felt almost natural to hire more international or otherwise diverse people at Storyteq. We quickly realised that having a team with people of all stripes can improve dynamics and foster better collaboration. As the company continued to expand, we really put an active effort into creating an inclusive team, since we believe it is crucial to our success. Now, with over 160 employees, we are hoping to create a culture that reflects these values. The next hurdle: getting even more women in the company, and more importantly: into senior positions. 

“We quickly realised that having a team with people of all stripes can improve dynamics and foster better collaboration.”

Renée Reijnders, Chief of Staff, Storyteq

But how do you reach this goal, especially in the tech industry? 

As Chief of Staff, I’m constantly working towards shaping this environment of equal opportunity for employees of all genders, backgrounds and identities. Among other things, we signed the diversity charter, which brought with it a lot of knowledge around non-biased recruitment and hiring. 

It is an important topic for the whole company, because fostering an environment of respect for all people across all departments requires dedication and commitment from all levels of the organisation. It’s not only on the shoulders of management or HR. Furthermore, we don’t aim to fill a quota or dust our hands off once we ‘hired enough women.’ We strive to put more women into leadership positions so that they may inspire others to join or follow in their steps, thus strengthening the culture we strive to create and uphold here. 

Of course, we are not there yet, but we are doing quite well, if I do say so myself. It is important for women in these senior positions to advocate for themselves and others. It’s something even I need to remember sometimes. This way, together with everyone else in the company, we can build the supportive work environment everyone wishes for. 

Let’s use this day to appreciate the amazing women who are making a difference in the tech industry and beyond. 


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