Self-made Indian businesswoman, Sonal Jindal, has broken stereotypes all her life. Today, she is a role-model to aspiring women all over India and she takes this role very seriously. Additionally, she is known to use her business and her position to promote women empowerment across the spectrum by way of mentoring students who are on the verge of picking a career for themselves.
In a tete-a-tete, she reveals what it took to break the glass ceiling in the world of business and what her journey means for improving India’s case for women empowerment and gender equality in workplace –
Being a woman, was your journey easier or tougher in the field of business?
No doubt it was very tough in the beginning because there are chances that you won’t be taken seriously till you prove yourself and start asking the right questions. Once you do that and ‘they’ don’t have the answers, the perspective changes and you are not judged anymore. With the right attitude, you need to persevere till you have one foot in the door. From then on, things look upwards.
How do you manage the work-life balance?
I am, by habit, a balanced person. My time is divided into designated hours to do different things during different hours. Routine is important to me. I love to spend time on exercise because it keeps me in the right frame of mind. I also love my work; therefore, I don’t compromise on my working hours for anything. Usually my work day begins at 11 am and goes on till 8 or 9 pm. Considering my international work structure, I even have to work 24×7 at times. However, last, but not the least, Sundays are special because I spend those with family. Yes, it requires a lot of juggling but the work-life balance is sacred to me.
Compared to men, is it more difficult for women to succeed in a business?
No! Men go through their own share of challenges in this field. While both men and women face judgemental behaviour till they prove themselves, at times where a woman may get away with certain things, just for being woman, the same liberty is not usually extended to men. Ultimately, to succeed in the field of business, you need to work hard with consistency, whether you are a man or a woman.
What is the essence of entrepreneurship and its significance for women?
Entrepreneurship is a sense of accomplishment for me because it allows me to take my own decisions and shift my focus to whatever catches my imagination. With the right amount of innovation, I can design multiple brands or businesses right on my desk. Today, I am fascinated with fashion & luxury, tomorrow I may opt to work in pharmaceuticals, or industrial production or media. So, it is being a businessperson that gives me the freedom to go into different verticals at the same time.
What are the issues that plague gender equality and women empowerment in the field of business?
In India, it is not just about gender equality, it is also about gender sensitization. Women are brought up differently in the Indian households. While men are raised to become bread-earners, from a young age, women are geared to become homemakers. These are the stereotypes within which we raise our children. Instead of making girls conscious of their physical behaviour in public, we need to teach them the importance of financial freedom and make them aware of their legal rights. In case anything untoward happens in their lives or they need to look after themselves, they need that knowledge about finances and law. It would be valuable and critical to their safe existence. Instead of teaching young girls all the time about their duties, it is time to teach them about their rights.
What is your view on women empowerment? Are you currently involved in it in any way?
When I started working, my agenda was to achieve success for myself. Issues like gender equality or women empowerment, though dear to me, were never on my agenda. However, after going through my own struggles and facing challenges, I gradually became passionate about equal opportunities for women. Today, when I see women following in my footsteps, I am happy, even though, it eventually leads to more competition for me. But I take it in a very positive spirit, considering it is women who are moving to the front of the line. Besides, I am also part of a Mentorship Program wherein we mentor young girls to make them aware of the issues they face and equip them to overcome the same.