Before the growing backlash against male-dominated Silicon Valley, Brit Morin built a new type of digital media company with an audience and employee base that's largely female.
Now, six years after she founded Brit & Co, with issues of gender discrimination tipping into the mainstream, Morin is reflecting on her company's mission to empower women and her own responsibility to help others. Having raised over $42 million in just six years, she's grown a community of over 125 million people, and has a workforce that's over 70 percent female.
"All women want is to be secure in knowing that they're not alone — that others are taking chances too, and maybe they're failing, maybe they're succeeding, they get up and try again," said Morin in an interview at Recode's Code Media conference.
"It's empowering for me as well — there's this movement right now of women supporting women in doing whatever it is they want to do that brings them joy."
Morin says that encouraging men to mentor women — and women to reach out to male mentors — is a key step in helping women advance: "There are far more successful executive men, who probably get paid a lot more than women. Help us. Help us become that equal partner to you in the workplace."
As a 25-year-old woman trying to get her company off the ground, pitching her idea to investors who were 50- and 60-year-old men, Morin says she faced multiple types of discrimination. Investors couldn't relate to her, or her target demographic of young women, and she was pitching a new type of company that would include content, merchandising, classes and have her name on it.
"I actually feel a lot of responsibility to be a voice in this conversation because of the number of women that we reach," says Morin. "Brit & Co has really become a platform speaking out about women's empowerment, how to speak up for yourself in the workplace, how to fight for the job you want, how to tell somebody if you're getting discriminated against."
Now, with content across social channels and her app, the company also hosts an annual festival, Re:Make, and charges for online classes on topics such as calligraphy, cookie decorating and photography. The company recently hosted a cyrptocurrency summit, drawing 15,000 women eager to learn about the topic.
Morin, who has been involved in conversations with the #TimesUp movement, notes that while she's glad conversations are happening, she's concerned about backlash.
"I worry that we might have gone a little too far, that we're alienating some of the men who are fighting for women," she says.
She says her hope is to invite more men into an active conversation, "instead of all-female panels, all-female speakers at events, only female #TimesUp circles that are meeting up in Silicon Valley, and Hollywood and D.C. Invite more men into the circles and ask them what they think would create change, how they help influence what's happening."
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