I talk as an ‘Equalist’ and not as a ‘Feminist’ , says Aastha Sharma , Co Founder & Spokesperson VERIS
In an interaction with Ms. Aastha Sharma, shares her thoughts about challenges faced by all leaders at work and the broad-level reasoning behind them.
In an interaction with Ms. Aastha Sharma, Ex. The Body Shop/ Avon (8 years), shares her thoughts about challenges faced by all leaders at work and the broad-level reasoning behind them. She also talked about accepting or fighting those biases is also not a gender-specific decision; and how so
She plays a key role in shaping long-term growth strategies for Digicred Technologies. She has over 8 years of experience dedicated to development & execution of organisational projects designed in collaboration with the C-suite. She is just as likely to shake up internal workflows as she is to develop data-driven strategies. She has a proven track record of delivering innovative marketing programs that accelerate growth, increase demand and maximise brand footprint.
She shared that “in my experience, most biases are completely unconscious and not limited to men. Accepting or fighting those biases is also not a gender-specific decision .In an ideal world, regardless of gender, ethnicity or any other factor, what should matter most is achieving the results by having the best person for the job – male or female. In the real world, however, this notion is principally agreed upon, yet actuality of acceptance is affected by a host of factors that include confirmed geographical beliefs, the company’s values and historical evolution, personal opinions of the team members, and of course the individual's grit and ambition.”
She shared about her work experience that “having worked with global brands like The Body Shop and Avon, a majority of my work life has been dedicated to the beauty and lifestyle sector. India; by far amongst the most culturally rich geographies of the world adopts a stringent belief system in terms of ‘jobs that are carved out for the fairer sex’ - beauty space being THE ONE for women! Now let’s talk about the companies I worked at. Both; The Body Shop and Avon are highly respected for their pro-female legacy. Both companies are strong promoters of women rights and have won many awards for the same. Companies like these have over time developed a value system to respect diversity at work. The team ratio is female heavy and the overall gender-based opinions automatically take a back seat. Up until my work there, all factors were in my support and I thrived at all ends. Then came my decision to start my journey at Veris as a Co-founder and Vice President - Growth.
Now let’s look again at the same factors we discussed earlier. In India, a woman leading in the male-dominated software-space is still considered ‘unconventional’ if not frowned upon. An unconscious bias leaning towards the ‘more-logical-tech-friendly-males’ is a reality. Having said that, another parallel reality of changing times is also true, I call it the “millennial verity”. When it comes to gender, we are in the midst of a cultural shift and it is being driven by this generation. Veris is an all millennial team and all of us wanted to build a result-oriented space, a place where team members are respected for their skills and not their gender or background. Traditional gender classifications simply didn’t work for us. By establishing the company’s values straight, we are able to mold team opinions and consequently build a culture of respect.”
She further added that “I wouldn’t say it was easy. But it surely wasn’t any tougher than a man trying to understand color palettes and skincare regimens in the C&T industry. Without an engineering background or any SaaS experience, I knew my limitations. Fortunately, all three of us (co-founders) embraced and respected each other’s potential to quickly mitigate those challenges. Leaving a job and plunging into the entrepreneurial space was big enough a decision to make many jittery. That too in an entirely new male-dominated domain was an added source of stress. This is where the other factors came into play! The analogy of the Veris Team and a jigsaw puzzle is a powerful one. Different genders, backgrounds, ethnicities with diverse skill-sets, ambitions, and motivations - when sewn together with patience, foresight, and vision, we all form a perfect fit for a much larger outcome and that’s what we take pride in! I talk as an ‘Equalist’ and not as a ‘Feminist’. To make it as an entrepreneurial leader requires years of persistence, an incredibly thick skin and long hours. To make it as a wife and parallel home-maker requires patience, compassion, and equally long hours. To do both, however, requires an organized mind, a massive self-respect, and a continual 'plan B'.”
Ms. Aastha Sharma serves for community service. Most of the initiatives that she is involved in are directed to reduce the effects of gender-based violence. She closely works with non-profits to enable more victims to get the help they need whether it is for counseling, shelter, legal services or compassionate support as they strive to live lives free from violence.