Article: IWD: Is gender parity an issue in your organization? Ghazal Alagh advises on transformation priorities


IWD: Is gender parity an issue in your organization? Ghazal Alagh advises on transformation priorities

Ghazal Alagh emphasised the imperative for every organisation to regard women as equals concerning cerebral competence and afford them equal opportunities.
IWD: Is gender parity an issue in your organization? Ghazal Alagh advises on transformation priorities

Gender parity stands as a critical concern within any organisation, exerting a direct influence on its overall well-being and success. The absence of gender parity often manifests in disparities across opportunities, compensation, and representation between men and women. This inequality not only contravenes the principles of fairness and equity but also impedes organisational performance and innovation.

Tackling gender parity is imperative for numerous reasons. Firstly, it champions diversity and inclusion, pivotal for nurturing creativity, problem-solving, and overall employee contentment. Providing equal opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds, including gender, enriches the talent pool and broadens perspectives within the organisation. Moreover, gender parity plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining top-tier talent, with potential hires increasingly scrutinising an organization's dedication to diversity and equality.

Moreover, neglecting to address gender parity can lead to substantial losses for the organisation. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Ghazal Alagh, the Co-Founder of Honasa Consumer Private Limited, the parent company of Mamaearth, highlighted how gender bias contributes to talent attrition. 

Qualified women may opt to depart or avoid joining companies where they perceive barriers to advancement. Additionally, gender disparities can precipitate diminished employee engagement and morale, as individuals may feel undervalued or marginalised within their roles. Ultimately, organisations that fail to prioritise gender parity risk lagging in the competitive arena and may incur reputational harm due to perceived inequities. Hence, it is imperative for organisations to proactively address gender parity issues to cultivate a more equitable and flourishing workplace environment.

Excerpts from the interview: 

As a seasoned female leader, what specific initiatives or transformations do you think organisations should prioritise to cultivate a workplace culture that is inclusive and empowering for women?

First and foremost, every organisation needs to start treating women as equals when it comes to cerebral competence and provide equal opportunity. At Honasa, we have a mandate to source an equal number of male and female candidates for every position in order to ensure equal opportunities are provided for every role.  

Drawing from your wealth of experience and journey, what guidance would you share with women navigating their way toward success in industries traditionally dominated by men?

Women often short sell themselves, and over the years I have realised that we, women, need to start believing in ourselves, because if we don’t, then who else will. If you have a dream, go after it. Build the skill set required, make mistakes but don’t let anything or anyone deter you from your goal. Build a strong support system for yourself and ask for help when you need to. A lot of times, we feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but I believe asking for help is a sign of a truly strong person with a clear goal. Trust yourself first and have faith in your capabilities. 

In your extensive career, what advice have you seen prove most valuable for women who may not recognise they are encountering the prove-it bias within their professional environments? 

I won’t call it a gender-based bias, as it happens to everyone who enters a new workplace. It is true that women, more often, are subjected to the prove it theory but I have grown to realise that one needs to choose their battles wisely and needs to be smart to know whether it is a prove-it bias or critical feedback. If there is critical feedback, one should embrace it, learn from it and become a better professional. Be great at your job and once you keep delivering on your goals, the organisation and people will take notice of it. 

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Which tactics or approaches have you personally found most effective in achieving acknowledgment and advancement despite obstacles like the prove-it bias? 

I had experienced gender biases early on but once we worked together and people saw what I brought to the table, the scenario changed. The lack of prior experience and ivy league degrees meant I had to work harder than others to prove myself but once I did, there was no looking back. I have fostered the best team and partners on the back of pure hard work and belief in myself that I could do it and that’s what I would urge every woman out there to do. 

How do you perceive organisational cultures and the attitudes of leadership influencing the prevalence and impact of biases within the workplace? 

The culture is crafted by the initial members, and they become the culture bearers of the organisation and then foster it across as the company grows. When Varun and I started building Honasa, we were just the two of us to start with but as we started growing the teams, we realised that we had to define our roles and draw some boundaries to help each other work efficiently. At that time, we had 5-6 team members and basis the new structure we split the team. The moment we did that, I experienced the most evident gender bias moment of my life. 3 of our team members quit stating that they would not report to Ghazal as she doesn’t have the experience and won’t add value to them. 

Back then, honestly, I was taken aback, and I got into this phase of self-questioning. But I took that feedback well and worked upon myself. Of course we let the people go but that was a very interesting learning. I had a similar experience with the manufacturing partners too. It is a male dominated industry and taking instructions from a female isn’t an accepted norm so that also was a challenge but there as I continued working with them, it got better and now I share the great relationships with them. 

Understanding this, we rolled out a policy in our organisation where for every role we have to have CVs from both genders in equal numbers so that we are able to provide women with equal opportunity. While this was over half a decade ago and the ecosystem is changing and evolving. Change is coming, slowly but surely for the better.  

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Topics: Diversity, #HRTech, #HRCommunity, #InternationalWomensDay

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