Bridging The Gender Gap At Wow Skin Science

"While many organizations strive for gender representation forcefully, ours is happening by design and more organically"


After recently receiving funding from GIC, WOW Skin Science has invested heavily in the hiring process. Currently, the company hires more women than males, which is noticeable not only in leadership positions but also in domains like manufacturing, sales, and finance which were formerly seen as being dominated by men, states Smriti Khanna, VP-HR, WOW SKIN SCIENCE in a candid conversation with BW People journalist.

1) How is beauty oriented towards women? How are you putting away the misconception by employing an equal chunk of men and women?

Historically, across the globe, beauty has been qualified as a very feminine concept. The notions are obviously a reflection of literature we have read through, stories we have heard, how languages have segmented some adverbs and qualities into binary buckets of masculine and feminine, how people interacted and passed some of these values to each other and across generations. Thankfully the notions are changing with time. The tribe that believes and promotes “beauty” as a non-gendered concept is increasing with each passing day. It might be interesting to note that as a consumer brand, WOW has almost equal participation from male members of the society. Our followers across social media have a very balanced mix of men and women. Our buyers are not limited to women and more noticeably, are buying for their families as well, which indicates how a good portfolio mix has made our products and brand be seen as a gender-neutral one. The brand aims to ensure beauty is not restricted to one segment of society. Similarly, as an employer brand, we are proud to host a well-balanced mix of men and women in our teams. While many organizations strive for gender representation forcefully, ours is happening by design and more organically. For example, our manufacturing partners have 80 to 90% of their teams represented by women. Similarly, our leadership team has 30% women representation and it's growing as we speak.

2) As per a survey by Colliers India, 63% of corporates are following the hybrid working model. On this note, how is the organization catering to the work-life balance of women?

As a brand we believe in work-life integration and not just for women but for all our employees. While hybrid might be one of the ways to achieve that goal of work life integration, it is not the only one. More than gender, we aim at looking at individuals from the perspective of their life stages and demands, and then together exploring ways to integrate the personal and professional life in a more wholesome manner.

3) According to you, what skill sets do women employees bring to the table?

Given the healthy mix of employee base, we have been able to harness both, the feminine and masculine, qualities of the teams. Without intending to stereotype or create segments, some top of the mind values women have been able to bring to the table are efficiency-mindset, deep and laser sharp focus, brilliant insights, diversity in perspectives, innovative ideas, sincerity, integrity, empathy and kindness, amongst many others.

4) How can an organization rethink employee engagement tactics to create a workforce and workplace culture that is diverse, inclusive, and open?

To think about an organization which is diverse, inclusive, and open, one needs to create an environment of respect. All successful DEI initiatives rest on the core and foundation of respect. Forcing targets in hiring or promotions are short lived, temporary stop gap fix and only create more adverse examples if they are not supported by more long term focused and impactful initiatives that encompass a cultural and mindset shift. Finding roles more suited to either men or women is not the answer for an inclusive place. A culture of respect promotes behavior that respects skill sets over gender, that respects differences and co-exists. It is only in such culture that a diverse bunch of folks find a comfortable space to flourish. Diversity, inclusion and engagement, all three, are not tactical but more strategic in nature. Everything from policies, to procedures, to protocols need to roll up to the culture of respect.

5) As per a report from GE South Asia, only 12% of women are involved in manufacturing services. Considering the same, how strong is the women workforce in the inventory department? How are they working towards contributing to the innovation of products at the company?

We have almost 80-90 pc representation of women in our manufacturing facilities, by design and organically. Different teams in our offices have 30-50% of representation of women. Even our on ground sales team has many women partners promoting our brand. They have been equal partners in ensuring our innovation engine keeps running, that the market is prepared for the new products, and the entire backend value chain is geared to make it big in the market.

6) What are some of the professional obstacles that women face in this industry?

I think the obstacles faced by women are equally society specific than industry. For example, the predisposition to include only men in heavy industries is less to do with the kind of skill set required in that industry and more to do with our society and mental assumptions. Over time, societal conditioning has made certain industries lopsided with heavy representation of one gender more than other. For example, beauty has been historically seeing more participation of women just like fashion designing. But a more skill-based, and value based approach towards talent is making us a more balanced workplace in terms of gender representation. Because such places put more emphasis on what value one brings instead of what gender brings that value.

7) According to a study from Teamlease, 72% of women feel gender bias at the workplace. How do you think gender neutral C-suite helps the company with respect to its performance and growth?

Our organization has always been focused on skill based and value-based decisions based on data and insights instead of gender. That we have a 30% representation of women in our leadership team itself speaks of the same. These women on the leadership team come from diverse personal backgrounds and are at different stages of their professional and personal life. The values, of being contribution/ value driven and being respectful, have helped all of us to come together and leverage the strength of each one to build a WOW brand. When the leadership sets this kind of example, where vision of company success is being achieved through teamwork of a diverse set of talent, the larger teams follow suit. They also start appreciating and (in some cases in fact) fostering diversity. It allows company to think first principle to solve a problem and nail the growth charter

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