By Jared Karol
What drives people to create inclusive communities?
For Maica Gil, founder of the San Francisco International Women Entrepreneurs Forum, the answer stems from being an immigrant and a woman. With the confluence of three continents — Europe, Latin America, and Africa — in her blood, Maica says bluntly that it would be nonsense to say anything against any other person or group, as she likely would fall into one of those buckets herself. This perspective of inclusivity is central to everything she does.
Maica’s specific focus is on helping women gain visibility and helping them collaborate on things that they care about. In addition to the Women Entrepreneurs Forum, she founded Heroikka, an online platform where women can connect and empower the world. How did Maica know where to start with all this? By listening. “You can only change things when you truly listen,” she says. “And if you truly listen it’s because you care. That is when you can create impact.”
And create impact she has. Maica is a master at getting women to collaborate and sit together in the same room. She instinctually understands that giving women the power of decision is not only empowering, it’s actually creating impact. She believes in the power of women peer mentoring to foster creativity, to start their own companies, and to fight for equal pay and equal representation. “One of the things that breaks my heart,” she says, “is when I see all this amazing talent wasted.”
Women in the tech industry should not be afraid to not follow the norm — to validate who they are, and to challenge the system that they have to deal with. It’s up to companies to get with the program by giving women positions where they are valued, where they have a potential for growth, and where the company policies and procedures respect the things that are important to women. It’s simple, Maica says to companies, can you include women or not?
And while we still have a long way to go, Maica is encouraged by the progress we’re making. One great example is the fact that something like a Tech Inclusion Conference even exists. A few years ago this would not happen. And now that it is happening, it’s a wonderful reminder that at the end of the day we are all human. We are given an opportunity to embrace our culture, our history, our past — everything that makes us who we are and that we are proud of. It encourages us to bring this authenticity to our places of work.
What Maica is doing with Heroikka and the San Francisco International Women Entrepreneurs Forum is nothing short of brilliant. She is not acting as a guru or an evangelist, but rather astutely listening to what women want and then creating inclusive communities where they can talk about anything and everything. She has created forums where women can be bold and express their dreams as well as their concerns, and focus on constructive solutions.
“Everyone is ready to empower the world and create impact, so let’s do it!” Maica says. “Consider me like a female bottle of glue.” With her leadership, inclusive communities for women are going to stick for a long time to come.
Listen to the full podcast with Maica Gil here or below.
About Change Catalyst:
Change Catalyst empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through events, consulting, research and training.
Our Tech Inclusion programs explore and develop innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion.
Our Startup Ecosystem programs help underrepresented entrepreneurs and investors to start, scale and fund world-changing businesses.
Change Catalyst is a Certified B Corp, winning the “Best for the World” award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World” overall in 2015.