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“Industry Leaders Have To Put In Strong Policies That Mandate Diversity Of Gender”

In an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld, Meena Ganesh, Co-founder and Chairperson, of Portea Medical, talks of gender diversity in workplaces, the high points of her entrepreneurial journey and the challenges she has faced

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Recent reports claim that gender parity might be regressing in India. How do you see this?

I would say things have changed but not fast enough. I have been an entrepreneur for over 22 years and when I started, there were hardly any women entrepreneurs. Today, there are many startups but the percentage of women therein is low. There is a social issue that we must consider while addressing the question of gender parity. While women’s entry into the career force is appreciated and encouraged, the focus is still on stability. Startups are not stable and not something that society and families encourage women to get into – it is an unsaid feeling on their part on whether it is really prudent for women to run a large organisation where there is a lot at risk and instability. 

How do you think women can be encouraged to take up senior leadership roles in firms?

The number of women in the workforce and senior leadership positions has seen an increase but the numbers are still not very encouraging.  Industry leaders have to put in strong policies that mandate diversity of gender as well as other dimensions. Bringing in a few women into leadership roles tends to create a pull for other women to be brought in down the line. Women also tend to lack confidence in areas such as sales or negotiation and fundraising, which are traditionally looked at as male-dominated fields.

Tell us about some of the transitional moments of your professional journey that have helped you reach where you are today?

In the year 2000, I decided to transition from the corporate world and took the entrepreneurial plunge through my first venture called Customer Asset. Starting this journey was a very crucial turning point in my life and gave me a lot of perspectives early on as there were not many women entrepreneurs in the startup world. Since then, I have not looked back and have been part of building wonderful startups. 

Can you share any challenges that you faced, particularly for being a woman working professional?

When I started Customer Asset, gender was never on the top of my mind as a concern. This is because I was coming into the startup world after a good number of years of experience behind me. However, investors did have a question on their minds about a woman running a BPO business with a baby in tow. What worked for me was that I was very clear about my goals and passion. 

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International women’s day 2023