‘I genuinely thought that the playing field was even when I lived as a man’ – Caroline Farberger is now aware of the disparities in business

Farberger shares how she was enlightened to the gender gap in business only when she began life as a woman. The experienced CEO and investor spoke to us ahead of her appearance at Tech.eu Summit later this month
‘I genuinely thought that the playing field was even when I lived as a man’ – Caroline Farberger is now aware of the disparities in business

Caroline Farberger will be joining the conversation on the Access Denied: The high-stakes fight for a level playing field in Europe and beyond panel at this year's Tech.eu Summit on the 24th May 2023.

Farberger is partner and chairperson of Swedish venture capital company Wellstreet. Previous to that position, she was CEO of the Swedish insurer ICA Insurance. She brings to the panel her experience of being an investor and successful CEO, both as a man and a woman. 

“I genuinely thought that the playing field was even when I lived as a man, but I only had to live as a woman for a few months to realise how wrong I had been, how little I understood," says Farberger, who went through a gender transition five years ago. "It was not because I was treated differently myself, but rather the women around me included me as one of them in the female community, and they told me stories I hadn't heard before."

"They told me how difficult it was to make your voice heard, how difficult it was to withstand the jargon, how difficult it was to influence decisions or have a career, and even trustworthy testimonies of sexual harassment that went unreported - committed by men close to me, that I back then I would vouch for - when I realised how much I had missed as a man - I was oblivious to it. It's very hard to understand your privileges if you yourself belong to the privileged category," she says. 

Farberger now uses her experience of being a man in business to talk to men in business about the gender gap. 

“I have access to influence a category of people that most women have difficulties influencing, and that is normative white men because when I talk on stage, the funny thing is, white men listen to me," she says. 

“Whenever I do a speech, I say that I'm very humble about my insights — that I reached my position as CEO and having lived with the privilege as a white man - therefore, I don't want to portray myself as a spokesperson for other women, because I haven't been subjected to discrimination myself. However, given that I have a position to talk from, I've chosen to relay what I hear from other women," she explains.

As part of the panel discussion, Farberger will be sharing her insights on diversity in the world of venture capital funding, where it's a commonly known fact that female, people of colour and immigrant founders are largely ignored when the purse strings loosen. 

“The deal flow I receive as an investor is heavily dominated by other women and other diverse people — I understand that value representation is huge in the venture capital industry. If you're a white normative man who complains, 'we don't see so many female founders', well that's because you are a man," she says. 

"I believe that at venture capital companies, you should have a mixed team. Not all men, not all women, but a mix so that you can represent the entire society and not be separatist in either way," she adds. 

Come join in the discussion on diversity in European tech at Tech.eu Summit on the 24th May 2023.

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