Exclusive: Shark Tank India’s Ghazal Alagh recalls facing bias in male-dominated sector, shares how she overcame it
Ghazal Alagh, the co-founder of MamaEarth, is one of the top female business entrepreneurs in the country. She became a household name with her appearance on the Sony TV show Shark Tank India. Being a female entrepreneur, Ghazal has been an inspiration for many individuals but her journey had never been an easy one. During an exclusive conversation with People Matters, she revealed how she faced discrimination in a male-dominated industry and overcame it.
MamaEarth co-founder’s experience is unfortunately not unique. In many industries, women are underrepresented and face discrimination in various forms, including unequal pay, limited opportunities for advancement, and sometimes even harassment. Despite the challenges, Ghazal has been able to build a successful brand through hard work, dedication, and innovation. Mamaearth has grown rapidly since its founding in 2016, with a strong focus on natural and sustainable products that appeal to modern consumers.
Excerpts from the interview:
Women leaders often face gender bias in the workplace, which can manifest in various forms. Have you ever had such experiences yourself and what are some of the smart ways to tackle microaggressions?
Women face all sorts of biases and I was no exception. I faced resistance when we started on this journey. One such instance was when I had to connect with vendors and suppliers. Being a male-dominated sector, it was challenging to build a relationship with them. While the start was rough, we have been able to build long-term relationships with our vendors and suppliers. Whatever hindrances I faced, I was committed to achieving what I set out to get and things fell into place through the course.
I can say this in hindsight, but when one recognises the bias, it is important to call out the behaviour. People often feel asking for help is a weakness but I strongly believe that seeking help is the biggest strength. Having said that, many organisations, including ours, are making an effort to neutralise biases. Slowly but surely, change is coming and we are optimistic about the future.
What role do you feel Shark Tank India has played in giving a boost to women entrepreneurs in India?
Women have been extremely enterprising, with the cottage industry ventures like pickles and papads. I think Shark Tank has given them a platform to commercialise their small business and give them ideas to build scale. In fact, just in Season 1, has almost 48% pitches with at least 1 women co-founder which is inspiring to the Indian audience to accept entrepreneurship as a legitimate choice of profession and women in entrepreneurial roles as well. The acceptance of women as entrepreneurs is gaining momentum and soon we will have many more women entrepreneurs emerging in the sector.
Women leaders are still a minority in many industries, which can make it difficult for budding female entrepreneurs to find mentors. What are some ways women can help other women at work?
That's true, there are few industry leaders who inspire others. But there are communities that bring these aspiring entrepreneurs together and rope in industry leaders to mentor them through their entrepreneurial journey. In fact, I have mentored so many women and have been closely associated with them.
You recently gave birth to your second baby. What strategies have you found helpful in maintaining a balance between your work and family responsibilities?
Women are enablers across various aspects of our lives. Every woman is a multitasker, hustler and juggler, irrespective of the role they are playing at any point in their life and I strongly believe that they are the only ones who can do this best. I calendarise everything, personal or professional so that my priorities are my activities. This helps me prioritise and ensure I make time for everything.
Any message you would like to give to all the women out there on International Women’s Day?
Women need to support each other, that is how we, as a gender, will grow. Women, today, are capable of doing any job, as well or even better than men. It's all about giving them an opportunity. One thing I would like to tell everyone is that if you are passionate about it, go for it. Don’t get bogged down by what people are saying, if you believe it, go achieve it.