Bumble Bizz: Networking with a Feminist Twist


Dating apps made quite the splash after Tinder first hit the app store in 2012. People were swiping right around the globe, making matches and meeting exciting new dating prospects. But it didn’t take long for women to realize that flirting on Tinder had many of the same pitfalls as flirting at a bar. Namely, it sometimes opened the gates for unwanted comments and harassment. That’s when Tinder’s former co-founder Whitney Wolfedecided to do something different: she would make a dating app that put the power in women’s hands. Today, Bumble has grown to an estimated 18 million users, and it’s quickly evolving into something much more than a dating app.

A Dating App Grows Up

Bumble is the feminist answer to Tinder. While both apps let men and women swipe left or right on a profile, Bumble lets women start the conversation first. It might not seemlike much of a difference, but if you’re a woman surfing the worldwide dating web, it sure is. Bumble’s ladies-first approach and its behavior monitoring algorithm were designed to reduce online harassment, prevent spam accounts, and basically weed out jerks in general. It’s a big deal in the dating world, and it has a handful of other applications, too.

In 2016, Bumble became the first dating app to step outside the dating pool. Bumble BFF, an extension of the app that matches users for strictly platonic relationships, saw more than 1 million swipes in its first week. This past October, Bumble Bizz burst into the networking world as a place where users can connect with industry professionals and mentors. Though it may be just a few months old, it’s already rising to the ranks of networking giants like LinkedIn.

How Does Bumble Bizz Work?

Bumble Bizz is just like its dating counterpart: users can swipe through nearby connections, and when a match is made, the woman gets to make the first move. With Bizz, however, you won’t be looking through a slew of selfies to find a potential match. The app allows users to upload headshots, resumes, and work portfolios. It’s a great app if you’re, say, a small business owner hoping to team up with other businesses in the area. And it’s particularly useful if you’re a woman who wants to make professional connections without the threat of getting hit on or receiving a nasty photo in your DMs.

The Problem With Professional Networking on the Web

It’s safe to say that professional networking isn’t at the top of most people’s lists. Mingling with executives at company parties, attending seminars, meeting with potential business partners – no matter which way you slice it, networking is an investment of your time and money. That’s one of the reasons online networking apps are so popular. Instead of putting on a stuffy suit and working up the nerve to shake hands with a CEO, you can simply drop them a line while you’re at home in your PJs. Sounds nice, right? But even in a professional environment like LinkedIn, harassment still occurs, and it occurs at an alarming rate. Reports of men using the site to hit on women are not uncommon in the least bit, and some men have gone so far as to send illicit pictures via LinkedIn’s DMs.

Cyberharassment is an epidemic, and it’s now spreading into areas that were once thought of as safe and professional. Bumble Bizz – and the Bumble brand itself – aims to change the gender dynamic and make the dating, socializing, and networking spaces safer for women. Bumble has a zero-tolerance policy, and it does a pretty good job of rewarding responsible users with better exposure and a verification badge. Furthermore, Bizz’s female-empowering features make it easier and more comfortable to network with industry professionals, an activity that can otherwise fall victim to sexism and misogyny.

The Bumble Ethos

Bumble is far more than just a dating app, or friend-finder, or networking site. It’s a fix, an answer to an online society that has lost (or perhaps never learned) its manners. Wolfe should know, she was put through the social media ringer before leaving Tinder to create Bumble back in 2014. She herself was a victim of sexual harassment at work, and eventually went on to file a suit against her former employer. The fallout was intense, and Wolfe was constantly dodging press coverage and hateful internet comments. In an article from Wired, Wolfe explains:

“This pervasive dark culture exists on social media, and it is going to destroy the mental well-being and self-esteem of all of these women across the world. I wanted to fix that. I want to reconfigure the way that we treat each other. That’s it. That’s the core of Bumble.”

So, while Bumble may have started as a dating app with a simple premise, Wolfe’s vision is much grander. It may very well retrain people how to behave on social media, whether it be while flirting with a potential suitor or looking for a new work connection.

The Call is Coming from Inside the House

By now, most people are familiar with the famous horror trope of a vicious killer taunting his prey with nefarious phone calls — only for the victim to discover that the stalker in speaking from a phone inside the house. This same peril plagues the entire hiring process. The threat comes from within. Census data show that the most predominant jobs for women involve lower-paying positions such as food servers, cashiers or secretaries. Meanwhile, men outnumber women in lucrative fields: programmers, lawyers, physicians and others. When women do break down the barriers and enter those ranks, they find substantially less pay for the same work. As a result, the World Economic Forum drew the dire conclusion that, in the absence of change, it would take the world 118 years to finally close the economic gender divide.

The bias is persistent and prevalent, even in something as innocuous as a job posting. Employment experts and analysts have found that subtle context clues and wording in job descriptions can unintentionally deter diversity candidates from applying to a position. For example, researchers from the American Psychological Association conducted a study of 4,000 job descriptions that revealed a subconscious gender bias toward men. The job postings that contained overly masculine phrasing were also those positions that recruiting professionals found hard to fill when sourcing women candidates.

One challenging description read: “We are a dominant engineering firm that boasts many leading clients. We are determined to stand apart from the competition.” However, more women began to apply when the researchers reworded the description to say: “We are a community of engineers who have effective relationships with many satisfied clients. We are committed to understanding the engineer sector intimately.”

Can Bumble Bizz Change the Recruiting Economy?

The recruitment industry, in particular, could benefit from Bumble’s vision for the world. Women have a notoriously difficult time networking without the fear of drawing unwanted advances. And sexism in recruiting is very real and very much alive. Harvard Business Review covered a recent study which looked at sexism in the hiring process. The results were a bit harrowing:

  • Men are two times more likely to be recruited when submitting paper applications, by both male and female hiring managers.
  • Managers preferred men 1.5 times more than women, even when the data showed that women were just as capable of the job.
  • During interviews, men tended to inflate their abilities, while women tended to downplay them. Even knowing this, recruiting managers were still twice as likely to choose the man.
  • When managers had to choose between candidates who performed poorly on the test, they were two-thirds more likely to choose a man.

We’ve said it many times before: gender equality needs to be a priority in the recruiting process, and in the workforce in general. But diversifying the workforce doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that calls for us to adjust our perspective and change how we treat women at work and in all aspects of life. Just as we can’t remove emotions from people, we can’t suppress their beliefs. Biases will always exist. As staffing professionals, however, we can help clients identify and conquer them to hire exceptional professionals — regardless of who they are or where they came from.

Working Toward an Equal Workforce

By evaluating the root causes of the problem, not just apparent symptoms, we can launch programs that emphasize a combined increase in diversity, performance, and profit. And as the needs of modern workers become more aligned, regardless of gender, business leaders can continue to shape the way they perfect their cultures, foster a genuine team mindset that embraces and rewards the contributions every individual has to offer.

Thankfully, with a little help from visionaries like Whitney Wolfe, we are beginning to arm ourselves and our clients with the tools that will ensure inclusive, innovative, and thriving cultures that embrace the unique perspectives different people have to offer. The passion exhibited by groundbreakers such as Wolfe help make the future of equality seem a little brighter.

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