Women Innovators: Intrapreneur Or Entrepreneur?

Companies should support women intrapreneurs as a way to spark innovation, promote gender diversity and equality among its leadership, and as a strategy to retain the top talent needed to succeed.

Women Innovators: Intrapreneur Or Entrepreneur?

Rani Yadav - Ranjan C200 member Rani Yadav - Ranjan is a well-respected thought leader and innovator, driving Technology & Innovation within Ericsson’s Global AI Accelerator. Rani is currently the Global Head of Ericsson SnapCode.ai. She has been involved in innovation at universities, startups, as well as global companies. It is essential to be agile in implementing new ideas in today's fast-paced, competitive business environment. This will help you retain market share and promote business growth. Companies are struggling to make sustainable and meaningful progress towards gender equality and diversity, particularly within their leadership ranks. These issues may have been overlooked. Promoting intrapreneurship, especially by women, addresses both of these strategic organizational goals in collaboration, and not separately. Most companies don't promote an environment that allows for the development of new ideas within their company, despite their 'commitment' to innovation. Women's intrapreneurship is a way to propel idea-focused women into leadership positions by providing opportunities to scale and establish internal ventures. This can help to reduce the cycle of the revolving doors. McKinsey's Women in the Workplace 2022 Report highlights the fact that women are leaving their jobs at an even higher rate than men.

It can be a powerful way to get women involved in new ideas within the company's resources. As an intrapreneur working in the telecom AI/ML sector, I've seen this firsthand. Ericsson's AI Accelerator leadership team was formed to solve critical business/product issues through technology. This led me to launch my ideas internally and lead projects that have a significant impact on the company beyond what I originally had. It is exhausting to start a business. Most startups fail. This could be due to founders spending too much time pitching VCs for capital rather than refining their ideas. I was a novice entrepreneur when I tried my hand at entrepreneurship. Despite having a brilliant idea, it was difficult to convince VCs that my startup would be funded. It was clear that I wasn't the only one who felt this way: much research has shown that funding new businesses is not gender-equal. Harvard Business Review's article Women-Led Startups Only 2.3% of VC Funding In 2020 revealed a significant drop in venture capital funding for women entrepreneurs. Their research showed that women-led startups are more likely than men to get funding. However, the pandemic caused investors to be more cautious about risks and to stay within their networks. This is a very 'boys club' for women and harder to break into. As organizational intrapreneurs, women are uniquely qualified.

Innovation is often motivated by frustration with a real problem. Women offer an unique understanding and empathy for consumers' problems. Innovation is possible because of their unique viewpoint on user experience, particularly for products that are used by women. A women-led venture can help reduce bias and offer nuance to original ideas.

These are the traditional and most commonly perceived qualities of women in the workplace. They include the ability to multitask and develop others, and focus on building relationships, collaboration, teamwork, and other characteristics that define a transformative leader.

Inspiring female employees can combine the business' strategic goals with innovative customer solutions. Most corporations don't have the infrastructure to support innovation and are stuck in systems that limit creativity.

Google's groundbreaking '20% Time' program was a great idea. Google employees could use 20% of their workweek to explore new projects that could be beneficial to them. This allowed employees to take on projects that were not related to their main work, which led to significant company advancements such as AdSense and Gmail.

Even five hours per week is enough to make a difference in a company venture or an employee's side business. Team members don't have to work weekends or nights to find their inspiration. Instead, they are given the opportunity to be more engaged at work and more energized. Innovations can quickly translate into company products or revenue if they are given the tools to fail fast, run fast and grow quickly.

Salman Taj (VP Innovation Silicon Valley Ericsson Business Area Technologies & New Businesses), emphasizes the importance and value of an intrapreneurship programme. Ericsson One is the company's internal incubator. We created an organization that supports all innovators who want to disrupt any industry, regardless of their previous entrepreneurial experience.

Ericsson One allowed me to explore the program and I was able to work with my teammates to create Ericsson SnapCode.ai, a patent-pending Low Code Platform with Blockchain Trusted Data layer. We can direct our efforts towards creating an ecosystem that allows developers to focus on the business logic and not worry about the infrastructure by working within this intrapreneurial incubator.

It is a strong case for women's intrapreneurship.

The workforce needs were redefined by the upheavals of 2020. Companies that don't make changes need to adapt in order retain and attract top talent. Women intrapreneurs should be included in this Corporate DNA shift.

C200 is a group of women executives who work together to inspire the next generation. We often discuss innovating within our companies through industry disruption, and the lack of support mechanisms for women's ideas in most industries. Even in cultures that promote 'best ideas win', their suggestions are often ignored. Organizations must offer the infrastructure to enable intrapreneurship for women leaders and the company.

Business is better when there's inclusive innovation. Intrapreneurs will thrive in an environment that encourages them to innovate.