6th March 2020: March 8th is celebrated as International Women’s Day every year, a worldwide event that recognizes and rejoices the achievement of women leaders across the world. From convention sectors to new age business, women leaders are now venturing across different verticals such as Technology, Marketing, Health, tourism and what not! Breaking the stereotypes of society, these leaders are changing the business landscapes and making their mark everywhere.
Here are powerful women who are making a bigger impact across different industries.
Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO, JobsForHer (Connecting portal that enables women on a professional break to restart their career): “This is a call for equality that has been brought to light over the past couple of decades. The magnitude of the problem in corporate India has opened the doors to a dialogue on processes to increase the participation of women in the workplace across levels and verticals. Working women and men deserve to be treated equally and with dignity. Diversity and inclusion will be the call to action for India Inc. for the next decade and increasing the number of women in leadership roles.
Regardless of the size of the company, the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been recognised and accepted by corporate India. This has led to greater investments in increasing the percentage of women with buy-in from top management — an important step towards achieving gender parity at all levels of an organisation.
Training and sensitisation are important measures that companies should invest in to enable their employees — both men and women — to understand biases and the importance of having more women in the workplace”.
Ms. Puja Punj, Co-Founder, GyFTR -Vouchagram (A tech-enabled offline to online gifting startup that enables Brand Currencies): “My entrepreneurial journey has been really overwhelming with a family and a kid to care for back at home. When it comes to women entrepreneurs, there is always a question of priority in their life and it is always assumed that it’s difficult to manage both. The Mantra I follow to keep up the work-life balance is to unplug myself from the certain things that can be managed without my attention be at home or office. It always gives a sense of responsibility and accountability to the other person. I always make sure to keep some time of the day for myself to plan and analyze the work in the direction of my goals. I believe in excelling at work through delegating the tasks to people as per their strengths which would not lead to good results but also done with all positive energies on time. To work with the team of XX people, the key to motivating them is the self – motivation and letting go of perfection to a certain extent to keep up the spirits high.”
Roma Priya, Founder of Burgeon Law (India’s leading boutique law firm): At Burgeon Law, we have a team of cognizant women lawyers some of who come from smaller cities. With our collaborative synergies, we pro-actively contribute to India’s booming start-up ecosystem by supporting other women entrepreneurs in achieving their goals. In the recent decade, women have played a dynamic role in the start-up sector. There are many Indian women leaders who became the equitable partners of these and even created massive job opportunities in the market. These women in power are empowering other women across industries while paving a path for their success. It is our mission to support enable women entrepreneurs with leveraging opportunities while getting rid of any financial and legal roadblocks. In the coming decade, we hope to see this phenomenon creating a wave of change and many more women as job creators.”
With organizations becoming more serious about cultivating diversity, the trend of building women friendly policies & programmes is becoming more mainstream. With the shortage of skills in the tech sector, tech firms are leading the way in incentivizing women to re-join the workforce. This includes programs to support women with young children, flexible work options, and technology-enabled systems to help women navigate their careers while balancing their role as the primary care giver for children. The need for skilled talent may just be the opportunity we need to finally usher in a meaningful change in the long struggle for gender equality. It will drive companies to move more women into good jobs, keep them in the workforce and bring back those who have left as it will make more business sense than recruiting new talent and training them from scratch.
Meenal Arora, Founder Director, Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools (India’s leading school chain): In my opinion, besides being a human right, gender equality is imperative for women to realise their self-worth, take control of their decisions and fill the gap to access equal opportunities and resources as men. The impacts of this parity are far beyond a particular section of the society, it sways the nation as a whole. Empowering women and giving them equal standing is the need of the hour to pull off sustainable development and economic upswing. Despite these facts, no nation in the world has been able to attain 100 percent gender-equality. We constitute half of the total world’s population but our contribution to the overall wealth of the world is negligible. Our battle against gender-bias is not for letting us read and write, neither it is for the equal pay and opportunities, it is for what we deserve – the equal respect, rights and stature in the society. It’s high time, we overcame the major roadblocks – the fallacies and the attitudes people hold against gender equality. The seeds of gender awareness need to be sown right from the young age of children that will make them responsible citizens with a mindset to create a nation free from discrimination. I, being an educator am committed to giving my students a childhood devoid of gender-bias and a meaningful start in that direction. As a woman, I stand strong with the empowerment of women and hence offer equal opportunities to women employees in my organisation.
Neha Kaul, Marketing and Brand Head, Shine.com (India’s second-largest job search platform): With organizations becoming more serious about cultivating diversity, the trend of building women friendly policies & programmes is becoming more mainstream. With the shortage of skills in the tech sector, tech firms are leading the way in incentivizing women to re-join the workforce. This includes programs to support women with young children, flexible work options, and technology-enabled systems to help women navigate their careers while balancing their role as the primary care giver for children. The need for skilled talent may just be the opportunity we need to finally usher in a meaningful change in the long struggle for gender equality. It will drive companies to move more women into good jobs, keep them in the workforce and bring back those who have left as it will make more business sense than recruiting new talent and training them from scratch.
Dipali Mathur, CEO & CO- Founder, Super Smelly (India’s only 100% toxin-free personal care brand for GenZ): I am raising a GenZ daughter and as I step out of the house each day to go to work, I do that with a dream in my eyes that my little girl and many more little girls are watching me march to work knowing that working Women are normal. They watch me being ambitious, they watch me voicing my opinion, they watch me looking after myself by exercising every day and eating nutritious food, they watch me questioning traditional patriarchal conventions, they watch my quest for equality in more ways than one and would know that it is not an aberration to do all this, but its normal. I grew up watching my mom sacrificing her career, only looking after her children and in laws and often ignoring her own health and nutrition, never resting. I knew I had to be a part of the change called I am Generation equality to ensure the generation after me inherits an equal world.
In 2017 I realised that my daughter is a part of that massive 30% of India’s population called GenZ for which not a single brand makes toxin free products that are clinically tested specifically for their age, with a deep sense of responsibility towards her and the next generation, my friend Milan and myself took things in our hands. We triggered a toxin free movement for the next gen which was so far exposed to more harmful chemicals through personal care products only because of no options available for them. We launched India’s first & only zero toxin certified brand of personal care products for the youth with our dream of a toxin free world for them. With Super Smelly now they have a choice to use safe and effective products which are specifically tested for their age.
Aarti Gill, Co- Founder, Oziva (India’s first clean-label plant-based active nutrition brand): “The seed thought behind being an entrepreneur were sown during the IIT days. While growing up, I saw a lot of health problems faced by people could have been easily avoided, only if they just had a better lifestyle. This motivated me to start OZiva. For me the challenges I faced as an entrepreneur had nothing to do with the gender, it was similar to what every entrepreneur goes through. Today, more than 80% of our customers are women and we are working towards building the community of 10k women entrepreneurs who are living a healthy lifestyle & inspiring others to do the same thing. We believe if a women is educated about fitness and healthy lifestyle they pass on the same to the family.”
Smiti Bhatt Deorah, COO & Co-founder of Advantage Club: “Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster journey, with its own ups and downs. In the end, success or failure boils down to idea identification and execution. As startups we need to constantly experiment on new ideas and find innovations in existing ones. Building a diverse team and an open culture is synonymous to success.”
Gitika Srivastava, Founder of Navya – a clinical informatics start up which provides online expert opinions to cancer patients: “Women empowerment is celebrating women across the world on a given day, (because celebrations are nice, and even if we are loved every day, we get showered with some extra affection, pampering, presents, and attention on our birthdays; similarly it’s just fabulous to celebrate women and womanhood as an international community one day in a year), and respecting her every day without making it a big deal that you are doing so”
“The day we naturally stop feeling the need to actively respect women as equals or more important citizens of the world, will be the day women will truly be empowered in a no big deal, natural, way-of-life kind of way! Today, the educated, the activists, and the feminists have to go out of their way to shine light on women’s rights, issues, disparities, abuse, achievements, sense of equality, and demands that should not require any attention at all. It should just be status quo, the boring and natural, non-sensational dynamic of the world. Until that steady state is achieved where women’s rights are basic human rights, a woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a space engineer and mother of three, or a homemaker that raises two chivalrous boys, is not empowered”
Mrs. Sunila Bahl (Co-Founder & Master Chef Koolchas) is the mastermind behind running the 2 outlets of Koolchas and is personally involved in preparing all the masalas and pickles while supervising the outlets to maintain the highest levels of hygiene standards at the restaurants.
She said, “I believe that Age is no bar, especially when you have the passion, imbibed talent and skills to present to the world what wonders you can do with a single chance. I believe in working hard towards achieving goals and inspire others to work hard.”
Neha Sanjay, Head of Marketing, Esper: “Around the world and through the decades, we have all shared the struggles of Gender Equality. Gender Equality is an apt theme for IWD 2020 and is particularly relevant for a country like India. Gender inequality is not a woman’s issue, but an economic one. It is crucial in ensuring the smooth progress of every industry and sector.
According to the Zinnov-Intel India Gender Diversity Benchmark report released last year, India has merely 26% female representation in technical roles at corporates across the country. This statistic may be a reminder of the gender disparity in the industry, however, it is also indicative of the scope of opportunities for women disruptors in this space. Brands and workplaces need to focus on taking on the role of an enabler in this regard.
At Esper, we believe that Gender Equality has to be designed deliberately at the workplace. Keeping this in mind, we are making efforts to ensure gender diversity through initiatives like hiring more women at all levels, and offering them upskilling and leadership programmes as well as flexibility at work.”
Sunaina Sharma Menerkar, General Manager, Grand Mercure Mysore: “Having come a long way within the Hospitality industry, I have seen the glass ceiling break that existed where the women had to work harder or give up working due to their family commitments. For me this has been a long and fulfilling journey.
We are living in a changing world where more women are following their dreams with passion, desire, and spirit to lead. The Hospitality industry has started to acknowledge and appreciate the commitment shown by women to create a safe culture and opening up numerous opportunities for them”
Rachan K, Associate Director – HR, Markelytics Solutions: “Balancing work and personal life can have its hardships, mistakes can be inevitable but there is always a success and we also need to understand that failure is a part of your success. Although we relatively lead a steady life, work or life can become overbearing and when a feeling of being overwhelmed hits us, we may not make the right decision. Having a form of guide or a mentor in life skills helps you to understand your inner morals and allows you to think and compete in a rapidly challenging world.
We, at Markelytics, have always realized the importance of work-life balance for all our employees and have regularly conducted sessions for the same. Work-life balance becomes more challenging for women given the society that we live in, where more impetus is on women to ensure proper functioning both at home and at work.
There is no dedicated day, but the realization is more now since women’s day is around and we’ve invited a renowned life skills coach to give a talk on this subject to all our women employees sometime next week. She will be joined by a few senior female employees as well, who will share their inputs to inspire and engage with our people.”
Sahiba Singh, Chief People Officer, Acuver Consulting Private Limited: “The technological era is ultimately about maximizing human potential. In these ultra- competitive times, a culture of bias repels true talent and compromises all scope of organizational growth. At Acuver, we truly believe that we stand invincible on the foundation of equality. Here true equality is not just an idea but everyday actions of providing for everyone’s unique needs and trusting everyone with the freedom to design their own success roadmap. In serving as a springboard for every employee’s professional development, whether men or women, we ensure a win-win for our people as well as the organization.”