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HomeNewsInterviewsDiversity requires transforming workplaces for women in decision-making: Hanna Strömgren Khan

Diversity requires transforming workplaces for women in decision-making: Hanna Strömgren Khan

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Achieving substantial change requires more than just investing in female entrepreneurs. It demands transforming workplace environments to support the rise of mom-CEOs and ensuring that women have a rightful place at the decision-making table, says Hanna Strömgren Khan of The Bozzil Group.

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The business landscape is witnessing a noticeable shift with an increasing number of female-led funds, female founders, and a greater focus on diversity and inclusion. However, according to senior industry leaders, achieving substantial change requires more than just investing in female entrepreneurs.

In an exclusive interview with TechObserver.in, , Founder and CEO of , said, “It demands transforming workplace environments to support the rise of mom-CEOs and ensuring that women have a rightful place at the decision-making table.”

Edited Excerpts:

Can you share an example of how you have integrated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles into your leadership approach or within your organization's strategic initiatives? What impact did this integration have on your team or organisation's culture?

As a female founder, integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles into my leadership approach and organisation is not just a choice but a fundamental aspect of my ethos. Being a woman and a mother myself, I've personally experienced the importance of inclusion and equality. Therefore, ensuring that everyone feels valued and seen under my leadership is paramount.

My businesses are led by women with the aim to serve women, whether in the beauty industry or in pleasure and personal care. We are deeply committed to empowering women and making them feel their best.

As a woman leader in your field, what is the most significant challenge you've faced related to gender equity or inclusion? How did you overcome it, and what opportunities did this challenge create for you or your organisation?

As a working woman, it's honestly challenging to pinpoint just one significant obstacle, especially considering my consistent presence in male-dominated industries. Several years ago, during a crucial investor meeting, I encountered a glaring double standard when I was asked questions about my marital status and family planning, questions that were conspicuously absent when directed towards my male co-founder.

In a previous workplace, I confronted the toxic culture of harsh treatment towards colleagues by speaking up to the founders. I firmly believe that yelling and name-calling yield no positive outcomes. However, the response from HR the following day left me incredulous; a new policy was implemented to speak softer to women to prevent them from feeling hurt. It was absurd to think that the issue was framed as a women versus men scenario.

Despite these challenges, I remain optimistic about the changing tides. A new generation of both women and men is emerging, challenging traditional workplace narratives and advocating for environments that are rewarding and empowering. While I acknowledge the value of hard work and perseverance, I refuse to compromise on anyone's self-esteem, mental health, or right to a personal life.

I firmly believe that work should be fulfilling without sacrificing our well-being. These experiences have reinforced my commitment to driving positive change, shaping a future where gender equity and inclusion are not just aspirations, but tangible realities.

Mentorship can play a crucial role in professional development. Can you talk about a mentorship experience where you have either mentored someone or been mentored by someone else? How did this experience empower you or the person you mentored, and what lessons did you learn about leadership and empowerment through this experience?

During my time at Brown University in the US, part of the student experience included being paired with alumni mentors during our final two years of college. These mentors played a pivotal role in guiding, supporting, and sharing their personal experiences and knowledge with us. As an international student and the first in my family to pursue education abroad, particularly at an Ivy League institution, I often found myself feeling isolated and perplexed in decision-making processes. While I received unwavering love and support from my family, I lacked guidance and frequently wished for someone to offer insights or advise on how to navigate various choices.

Fortunately, I had the privilege of being mentored by several individuals, both women and men, hailing from diverse backgrounds and generations. Each mentor left an indelible mark on me, and I continue to cherish their guidance to this day.

During my final year at Brown, I contemplated taking a job in the US instead of returning to India after graduation. One of my mentors sat me down and offered invaluable advice, saying, “Hanna, you are way too young to be comfortable. Do what you are most scared of doing.” Inspired by this encouragement, I took the leap, and here I am today, grateful for the wisdom and support that propelled me forward on my journey.

Looking towards the future, what changes do you hope to see in your industry regarding women's leadership and empowerment? What steps do you think are necessary to achieve these changes, and how are you contributing to making these changes a reality?

Undoubtedly, there's a noticeable shift occurring in the landscape, with an increasing number of female funds, female founders, and a heightened focus on diversity and inclusion. However, effecting substantial change goes beyond merely investing in female founders; it necessitates transforming workplace environments to foster the emergence of mom-CEOs and ensuring that women have a rightful place at the decision-making table.

My personal aspiration and vision revolve around leading by example. I aim to demonstrate that individuals from ordinary backgrounds, hailing from small towns and middle-class families, can pursue their dreams, secure funding, and build successful businesses. Through this, I hope to inspire others facing similar circumstances to believe in their potential and strive for their aspirations.

What I envision is a future where stories abound of women defying the odds and achieving their dreams through unwavering determination. Unfortunately, such narratives are not prevalent in the entrepreneur and startup news landscape at present. Thus, my mission is to contribute to a cultural shift where these stories become the norm, showcasing the limitless potential of women in entrepreneurship.

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Shalini Shukla
Shalini Shukla
Shalini Shukla is Correspondent at TechObserver.in. She has keen interest in start-ups, emerging technologies and education sector.
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