Women in Furniture

New network for women in the furniture business

Women have not had a big stage in the furniture industry so far. This is to change with "Women in Furniture". The women's network has set itself the goal of strengthening diversity and equal rights for women and men within the home & living industry, promoting ambitious women and stirring up the male-dominated C-level of the German furniture trade. We spoke to the two founders Louisa Verch and Josephine Seidel-Leuteritz.

Oct 12 2021

What kind of experiences did you have that made you think it was important to start a network for women in the furniture business? 

We both know each other through common professional overlaps. We both worked in the industry, Josephine for the online magazine Wohnklamotte, Louisa at the time for the strategy consultancy Digital Apartment. We participated in various events in the industry together and were often the only women in the group. Both at panel discussions and in the audience. This motivated us to initiate a long overdue change within the industry!  

How was the feedback on the founding of your network? Did men and women react differently? 

The feedback was overwhelming from both women and men and showed us that this step was necessary and desired. We started with a small event in Hamburg in July and already had great partners on board in the autumn, such as Stilwerk and bulthaup. The press was also very interested in our network, so we received media support right from the start. Of course, this has been extremely helpful in making us even more visible in the industry.  

What are the goals of your network? 

The goal of Women in Furniture is to create a space where women from the Home & Living sector empower each other to achieve great things. We create a space where trust and support are paramount. This is to allow us to share, inspire each other, give advice and address different key topics without shyness. Our vision is to strengthen diversity and equal rights for women and men within the home & living industry, to promote ambitious women and to shake up the male-dominated C-level of the German furniture trade. 

You both come from the online business. What changes did you experience in the industry during and after the pandemic - and what developments do you see for the future? 

Basically, we have probably all noticed how important personal encounters and our own four walls are for us. These needs were strongly felt at the first fairs this year. People were again so happy about the personal contact! Nevertheless, it also showed us how much is possible digitally. Does the scheduled meeting really have to be conducted in person? The necessary rethinking in the industry in the area of agile working has once again triggered many positive things. 

With regard to online business, it can be said that the pandemic has increased the acceptance and relevance of purchasing furniture online, which can be emphasised very positively and will help shape the future. Technologies such as augmented reality have once again come into focus.

The participation of women is on everyone's lips again due to the women's quota. What is your position on this? 

Basically, we believe that everyone should have the same opportunities and that vacant positions in companies should be filled according to performance and competence. However, there are many undecided factors that play into the fact why there are few women in leadership positions. One of them is the "unconsious bias". Unconscious bias is an unconscious prejudice that we have anchored in ourselves, which we develop in the course of our lives through experiences and imprints.

This is the basis of the classic example: The boss Michael1 also hires a Michael2 as his successor because he is the most similar to him and thus, Michael1 assumes, the most competent for the job. Since these prejudices happen unconsciously, we have to become aware of them in order to actively change our behaviour.  

Since this is conscious, and active action against the prejudices takes a lot of time, we are PRO women's quota. 

It is actually scientifically proven that diverse teams, i.e. groups whose members represent society as diversely as possible, work more successfully and also more efficiently. What are your experiences, or those of your members? 

We can confirm these theses without reservation! We try to get feedback from many different people for the further development of Women in Furniture, in order to develop ourselves in the best possible way and to build up Women in Furniture successfully. We also appreciate working in diverse teams in our jobs. 

Are there networks like yours internationally? 

Not yet within the industry, but we have big goals. ;-) 

Who can become a member and how? 

Anyone who can identify with us and our values and comes from the extended home & living sector can become a member. Diversity, equality and empowerment are very important to us. We want everyone to feel welcome at any time: regardless of skin colour, religion, age, sexuality or position in the company. This is the only way we can learn from each other and create exciting synergy effects. There are no elbows with us - only absolute support for each other! 

Just write to us using the contact form on our website www.womeninfurniture.de.

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