Gender diversity in leadership: Indian start-ups lead by example

Gender diversity in leadership

More and more startups in the Indian entrepreneurial market are today prioritising gender diversity in leadership roles by addressing the many challenges they face and helping manage them. Riddhi Nagpal, director of customer relations at CashKaro, has lunch with co-founder Swati Bhargava once every week to understand and highlight issues at the workplace.

Several other new-age companies like Jombay, Uber, Healthians, Bigbasket, Byju’s, and more, are also actively encouraging and supporting future women leaders to nurture their potential to drive growth, product innovation, and profitability.

In addition, several sensitisation workshops are also being organised to help women combat workplace bias with the help of enhanced career opportunities and more active participation in board meetings.

Industry experts state that one of the biggest challenges faced by women entrepreneurs is the long and erratic working hours at startups, which most family members cannot cope with. Murali Talasila, partner and innovation leader at PwC India, had said that while efforts are being made, a lot more needs to be done to encourage women entrepreneurs, today. “There is no dearth of talent — it’s just that we need a focused effort,” he said.

Co-founder of Jombay Mohit Gundecha also said that prospective women leaders in the organisation are increasingly involved in product innovation and encouraged to be a part of board meetings and present their findings there. He said, “Access to board members generally is restricted to the top leadership team of an organisation and we have democratised access to them for budding women leaders — it improves their big-picture thinking and executive presence.”

Uber, on the other hand, organises 6-12 months-long engagement programmes where the company’s leaders hold discussions and conducts action planning for junior-level female employees. Vishpala Reddy, Uber’s regional HR director – APAC, says that the programme has been proven to help facilitate career growth for women and other underrepresented members of their teams.

Deepak Sahni, founder of Healthians, said that women comprise four of the nine leadership roles in the organisation. The company has also set up an entrepreneur-in-residence drive for potential entrepreneurs, to help them lead new projects as business units, with women making up half of the staff hired, she added.

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