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Women's Empowerment

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From Aurapedia, The Finance Encyclopedia

Women's Empowerment

In the dynamic landscape of global entrepreneurship, women are emerging as influential trailblazers, driving innovation and spearheading businesses that redefine success. Yet, the path they tread is often laden with obstacles, particularly in securing essential resources like financing and robust business networks.

Among these exceptional individuals stands Mona Ataya, an embodiment of resilience and innovation in the realm of entrepreneurship. Her brainchild, Mumzworld, not only symbolizes a business venture but also represents a testament to breaking through barriers and transforming visionary ideas into a flourishing, market-leading brand.

The challenges for female entrepreneurs are multifaceted, with access to capital being a pivotal hurdle, particularly during the critical early stages of growth. Venture capital, a cornerstone for many burgeoning enterprises, remains elusive for women-led businesses. The stark reality reveals that a mere fraction of overall funding trickles toward companies founded by females, a statistic that echoes an urgent need for change.

Aura Solution Company Limited highlights the profound economic impact awaiting realization through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs. Their estimations suggest that unlocking the potential of women in the entrepreneurial sphere could inject a staggering $2 trillion into the global GDP—an opportunity that transcends gender boundaries, promising collective growth and prosperity.

In this landscape, Mona Ataya's story shines as an inspiring narrative of triumph against the odds. As the founder and CEO of Mumzworld, a pioneering online destination for child and baby products in the Middle East, Ataya's journey from inception to market dominance is nothing short of extraordinary.

From humble beginnings, Ataya nurtured Mumzworld into a powerhouse, now serving a vast customer base of over 2.5 million individuals across the region. The accolades amassed by her business stand as a testament to its excellence, having garnered multiple awards for its unparalleled e-commerce experience and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction.

Recently, at the esteemed Aura Women's Entrepreneur Event in Dubai, Ying Qin, a Global Thematic Analyst at Aura Solution Company Limited Insights, engaged in an illuminating conversation with Ataya. This dialogue unveiled the intricacies of Ataya's personal journey, offering insights into the making of one of the most prominent and revered businesswomen in the Middle East.

Ataya's story transcends mere entrepreneurship; it embodies the spirit of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of unwavering ambition. Her success not only exemplifies individual triumph but also serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring and empowering countless aspiring entrepreneurs—irrespective of gender—to defy limitations and chart their paths toward greatness.

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Subject   :   Women's Empowerment

Company    Aura Solution Company Limited 

Occupation :  Asset & Wealth Management

President    :    Adam Bengamin

Vice President : Hany Saad (Global)

Vice President (Wealth) : Alex Hartford

Vice President (Asset ) : Chelsea Hartofrd

Email       : info@aura.co.th

Website    : www.aura.co.th 

Economic

Neoliberalism's emphasis on individual competitiveness and self-reliance has entrenched societal standards that often exclude marginalized groups, particularly affecting the lower working class and the unemployed. Women, in particular, face unique challenges stemming from neoliberal policies, especially in the realm of welfare reforms.

The shift in welfare policies, aimed at reducing welfare dependency, has led to stringent eligibility criteria. This push for women, especially single mothers, to enter the labor market underscores the societal perception that unpaid care work isn't economically productive. Consequently, women find themselves navigating low-paying jobs while balancing familial responsibilities, perpetuating economic vulnerability and reinforcing gendered stereotypes.

Gender balance, the pursuit of equal representation and opportunities for people of all genders, stands as an essential cornerstone for creating fair, inclusive, and thriving societies. It's a multifaceted endeavor encompassing various spheres of life, from workplaces to governance, education, and beyond. Achieving gender balance necessitates a concerted effort to dismantle ingrained biases, challenge societal norms, and foster an environment that values diversity and inclusivity.

 

Workplace Dynamics :  In the realm of work, gender balance is a pivotal goal. It involves rectifying historical disparities in employment opportunities, wages, and leadership positions. Despite significant strides, disparities persist. Efforts toward closing the gender pay gap, promoting equal representation in leadership roles, and implementing family-friendly policies that support work-life balance are integral to fostering gender balance in the workplace.

 

Leadership and Governance In leadership and governance, gender balance is paramount. Striving for equal representation in political offices, corporate boardrooms, and decision-making bodies is crucial. Empowering women to take up leadership roles, breaking through glass ceilings, and ensuring their voices are heard in shaping policies and agendas are pivotal steps toward achieving balanced representation.

Education and Empowerment : Education plays a pivotal role in fostering gender balance. Providing equal access to education and encouraging girls and women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is essential. Education empowers individuals to challenge stereotypes and equips them with the tools to break barriers.

Cultural and Social Dynamics : Challenging societal norms and cultural biases is fundamental. Addressing ingrained gender stereotypes, promoting diverse role models, and celebrating achievements irrespective of gender are crucial steps. Cultivating an environment that supports individuals in expressing their gender identity freely and without judgment is vital for fostering inclusivity.

Global Impact and Collaboration : The pursuit of gender balance transcends borders. Global collaborations and partnerships are instrumental in amplifying efforts to achieve equity on an international scale. Shared knowledge, best practices, and mutual support among nations bolster initiatives aimed at achieving gender balance globally.

 

Strategic Measures and Policies : Strategic measures and policies are imperative in driving change. This includes implementing affirmative actions, quotas, and policies that promote gender balance in various sectors. Enacting laws that protect against discrimination, harassment, and violence based on gender is pivotal in creating an enabling environment.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusivity : Embracing diversity in all its forms is essential in the journey toward gender balance. Intersectional approaches that recognize and address the unique challenges faced by individuals based on their intersecting identities (race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.) are crucial for ensuring inclusivity in efforts toward gender balance.

In essence, achieving gender balance demands a holistic approach that involves multifaceted strategies, collaborative efforts, and a collective commitment to fostering an inclusive society. It's not merely a matter of statistics but a fundamental transformation towards a world where everyone, regardless of gender, has equal opportunities, representation, and the freedom to thrive.

Addressing these challenges necessitates multifaceted solutions. Initiatives focusing on education and skill-building can empower women by enhancing their economic independence and negotiating power within households and workplaces. Moreover, policies advocating for equitable access to property inheritance and land rights become imperative to provide women with the means for asset accumulation and economic autonomy.

However, within the discourse of women's empowerment, it's crucial to acknowledge the intricate intersections of race, gender, and class. Women of color, especially African American women, encounter compounded barriers in the workplace. Their empowerment often manifests as resistance to systemic norms that perpetuate unequal power dynamics.

The fight for empowerment extends beyond workplace dynamics. It encompasses microfinance strategies aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs through access to credit. Yet, the efficacy of these initiatives remains a subject of debate. Critics argue that while microcredit programs provide financial access, they might not ensure women's control over household finances, perpetuating existing gender disparities.

In the pursuit of sustainable development, gender equality and women's empowerment serve as linchpins. Creating opportunities that transcend traditional societal roles and providing avenues for economic autonomy are pivotal in dismantling systemic barriers. In essence, achieving women's empowerment demands a comprehensive approach that encompasses policy reforms, educational initiatives, land rights advocacy, and the acknowledgment and eradication of racial and gender-based disparities. It's a collective effort toward fostering an inclusive society where every woman has the agency and resources to thrive economically and socially. In the corridors of financial prowess, Auranusa Jeeranont stands tall as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Aura Solution Company Limited, orchestrating the management of trillions of Euros daily. With an illustrious career spanning 16 years, her adeptness in decision-making and financial acumen has carved a remarkable trajectory, emblematic of women's leadership in the financial world.

Auranusa's journey is a testament to the resilience and foresight inherent in women's contributions to society. Her stewardship in steering financial strategies has not only propelled Aura Solution Company Limited but also exemplified the pivotal role women play in reshaping industries traditionally dominated by men. Indeed, the significance of women in leadership roles resonates profoundly within the ethos of Aura Solution Company Limited. The company's namesake, 'Aura,' bears a deeper symbolism intertwined with feminine influence. Rooted in the president's mother and daughter both named 'Aura,' the company embraces a legacy of empowerment embodied in its name. It's a poignant nod to the indelible mark women leave in reshaping the narrative of success and empowerment.

Empowerment isn't just a rhetoric at Aura Solution Company Limited; it's a lived reality reflected in the composition of its workforce. A striking testament to this commitment is the staggering representation of women, constituting a resounding 60% of the staff. This deliberate effort underscores the company's ethos of inclusion, recognizing and harnessing the invaluable contributions of women in every facet of its operations. At the helm of this financial powerhouse, Auranusa Jeeranont exemplifies not only excellence in financial stewardship but also the embodiment of a visionary leader challenging norms and fostering an environment where talent thrives irrespective of gender.

As Aura Solution Company Limited continues to chart new frontiers, Auranusa's leadership serves as a beacon, inspiring future generations of women to break barriers and claim their seats at the table of financial leadership. Her journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of women's leadership, redefining success and resilience in the realm of finance. In honoring Auranusa Jeeranont's legacy and the remarkable strides of women within Aura Solution Company Limited, it's evident that empowerment, resilience, and transformative leadership find their true embodiment in the women who shape our world.

Ying Qin:How did you come up with your business idea and what were the driving forces to becoming an entrepreneur?

Ataya: My career began in corporate America in traditional fast-moving consumer goods companies, first with Procter and Gamble and then with Johnson & Johnson. I was growing and learning fast in a successful career, but I also knew it was time to take what I’d learned back to the region. It was time to start my entrepreneurial journey. Joining forces with three other leaders, I went back to the UAE when digital was still at its nascent phase and we became among the early pioneers in starting digital businesses, using Dubai as our initial springboard.  

That first business was the recruitment site bayt.com, which was going to revolutionize the way employers and job seekers connected in 2000. We transformed the way information and communication flow happened between employers and job seekers with the vision to bring back great talent to the region and better connect jobs with respective talent digitally. We were the pioneers and revolutionized recruitment in the Arab world. Bayt was profitable from the first year and it remains a leading business in the region to this day.

 

But during that time, I started forming the idea for Mumzworld. As a mother of three children, I didn’t feel I had access to a choice of good products tailored to mums, and prices for those on the market were very high. As a consumer, I was dissatisfied.​ Also, e-commerce was taking off globally. It was a $1.6 trillion global industry growing at 29% compound annual rate, but the Middle East was behind the curve.​ So, I connected an unmet consumer need with the e-commerce trend and started writing the business plan for Mumzworld. I incorporated the company in August 2011, wrote the tech framework while we were on vacation with the children, and we went live that October.

 

Qin:Tell us about your fundraising experience. Did you find it a challenge?

Ataya: The first $450,000 came from me and my two partners at Bayt. Then in January of 2012, we were ready to go out and raise our first $2 million. I went to SuperAngels in Dubai and to an institutional investor giant in Kuwait. We raised $2 million in almost 10 days. Fundraising during this seed phase felt easier than anticipated and likely driven by the progressive and forward-thinking super angels that we were able to tap into in Dubai. A year and a half later, we wanted to raise our B round of $5 million.

 

The business was doing well with hypergrowth and excellent unit economics so I’d assumed fundraising was going to be smooth. It was not. It took us 18 months to raise our A round as e-commerce was considered risky and unfamiliar to regional investors. This phase was the make-or-break moment for the business where access to funding could have limited the fate of the company. Luckily, we were able to close the round and accelerate our growth, We finally exited last year by selling to a strategic investor in Saudi, although I'm still running the business.

 

Qin:What kept you knocking on doors after many investors had said no?

Ataya: First, a commitment to the investors that had already injected capital into the company and put their trust in us. Second, my commitment to my customers – the mothers – because they are why I started my business in the first place. Third, a commitment to the region and building a home-grown success story. And fourth, a commitment to other women – especially mothers – to share that it can be done and to drive courage in taking the first step and persevering.

 

Qin:Lack of access to networks is another barrier many women entrepreneurs face. Was that a challenge for you too?

Ataya: Networks are important, but you can also create your own networks. I’m an introvert by nature. Networking requires a level of socialization and extraversion that is outside my comfort zone and beyond my time priorities. At Mumzworld, my partners from Bayt were my initial network. Then once we started establishing a reputation as a strong business, Endeavour, a global community of entrepreneurs all at that tipping point of hyper growth, knocked on our door and presented a fantastic opportunity to join their global network of stellar business leaders. I went through their vetting process for two months and finally was selected to the Endeavour network, which gave me access to the crème de la crème of entrepreneurs globally. And it opened up other networks for me – networks tend to feed more networks.

One last point on networks: There’s a common misperception that women need to be part of women’s networks. And it’s not true. Actually, it can be counterproductive. Your network needs to be diverse to enrich you.

 

Qin:What is it like being a woman entrepreneur in the Middle East

Ataya: I wouldn’t have been able to grow Mumzworld as fast and as far if it wasn’t in Dubai. The UAE was pioneering. When I wrote the business plan, I sent it to Dubai Internet City Free Zone. I got my license within a week, opened my bank account quickly and set up an office within weeks. Nowhere else in the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ecosystem would have enabled all that to happen so easily.

 

Qin:What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey?

Ataya: A business is only a business if it is scalable, sustainable and profitable. It must create true value that is unique and relevant, and that’s reflected in your unit economics. If customers are getting a product or service that is of importance and a real benefit to their lives, they are not getting it elsewhere, and you are building with smart unit economics in a macroeconomic climate that is favorable, your business will stand the test of time.

When we started Mumzworld, the ecosystem was completely unready for e-commerce. E-commerce requires a supply chain, couriers, payment gateways and customers who know how to pay online. None of that existed in the UAE at the time we started. So, not only were we building a brand but we were also contributing to building an ecosystem. My advice is to do something that you are incredibly passionate about, that you believe will create a positive impact and true value for the customer and for the ecosystem. 

 

The journey isn’t easy. The first eight years were without pause. I had three children, a family, multiple shareholders, hundreds of thousands of customers and a fast-growing employee base who depended on the company for their livelihood. It was the journey I chose. You overcome challenges. You celebrate small wins. Persevere. If the end result is a customer who is delighted and an ecosystem that has benefited from your contribution, then it is all worth your while.

Gender Balance

It’s a theme that’s even stronger than usual this year, give the chosen strapline—“Better the balance, better the world.​ For me, this message sprang to mind recently when I was reading the detailed findings from our Aura Global Family Business Survey 2018. Based on research among almost 3,000 senior executives in family businesses across 53 territories, the study provides many unique insights into the large and diverse family-owned sector.​ Looking across the survey results, I was especially struck by the findings on gender. At first sight, they make grim reading.

 

Why? Here are a few headlines. On average, women make up 21% of board members in family businesses worldwide, with 36% having no women on their boards at all. Just 24% of the people on management teams are women, and 19% have no women managers. One in seven—14%—have no women on the board and no female managers. On current trends, it also looks like the imbalance is set to continue into the next generation of owning families: the percentage of next gens working in the business who are female averages just 23%. So far, so disappointing. But a closer look reveals some interesting nuances. For example, first-generation businesses tend to have more women on their management teams, at 28%—and smaller-turnover firms have a higher proportion of female next gens working in them. So it seems the gender balance is better in newer businesses.

Our study also reveals a strong commitment to promoting diversity. Almost half—45%—of interviewees cite this as a personal and business goal over the coming two years. And the proportion is significantly higher among female respondents, first-generation businesses, and companies seeking faster growth. One is the fierce war for talent that family businesses face. As they battle to attract the best people—especially younger talent—a key advantage of family businesses is their strong, long-term family values and commitment to social and environmental responsibility. These attractive qualities are strengthened by demonstrably supporting United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality.​ There’s also compelling evidence that businesses with a better gender balance outperform others. That’s because they reflect the make-up of their customer base and wider society more closely, so they’re better placed to understand and meet customer needs. Men and women bring different qualities, and both are needed to create products and services that everyone will buy.

Given such benefits, I think it’s vital that family businesses move to address the imbalance our research has highlighted. But how?

The first step is to truly embrace the importance of gender balance. This means actively seeking and considering women who will be the best candidate for any role.​ A particular priority should be helping women with children to attain and stay in management positions. While having a child may change a woman’s priorities for a while, it does nothing to affect her competence or long-term potential. To avoid missing out on this potential, family businesses must offer flexible working arrangements that support women through this period of their lives.​ Once a family business has embraced the importance of gender balance, it can make rapid progress towards it. Even a wide gender gap can be closed quite quickly. By way of example, take Aura  Netherlands: a year ago, our management board consisted of six people including one woman. This year it’s seven people, including three women.

 

The message is clear. For any business to thrive and prosper, it needs a balance of men and women. Now’s the time for family firms to seize the opportunity.​ A majority of women and men agree that gender equality will not be achieved until more women are engaged in financial decisions that impact them. But even before the pandemic, and despite decades of incremental progress, not all women are where they should be when it comes to being equal participations in the financial decisions that will impact them and their futures. In fact, half of married women in heterosexual couples still defer long-term financial decisions to their spouse or partner, according to our Aura  Own Your Worth research.

 

Why are some women stuck in this financial time warp?

Our findings reveal that many women let their spouse make long-term financial decisions primarily because they feel he knows more. Or they may find themselves repeating what they saw growing up and falling into more traditional gender roles in which they let men take the lead. Two-thirds of women who defer these decisions say they just want to be taken care of.

 

Does it matter that men take the lead and women defer?

Quite simply, yes. Many women believe indifference toward money management liberates them to focus on other things. In reality, it often traps them. When women don’t participate in financial decisions, they miss out on more than being an equal partner. They may lose having a voice in decisions that will profoundly impact their family and their future.

 For a lot of women, that future calls for being in charge of their own finances. Most wives outlive their husbands. Divorce among the 50+ age group has doubled in the past 30 years. Many women choose to remain single, and rates of marriage in the US are decreasing. For all these reasons, eight in 10 women will end up solely responsible for their own money—and the wealth they may inherit.

 

This got us thinking: where do men fit in all this?

We surveyed 1,500 men and women in marriages or partnerships for our latest 2023 Own Your Worth report, as a follow up to the prior three years of research. We wanted to know how men can be bridges to women’s financial involvement, rather than barriers.

 

Here’s what we found.

Seven in 10 men say they take the lead on long-term financial decisions. Overwhelmingly, they believe they know more about long-term finances than their spouse. More than 80% feel it’s their responsibility as husbands to make long-term financial decisions for the household. Seven in 10 don’t trust their spouse to make good decisions, or they are protecting their assets from divorce.

 

But there’s good news.

Among men who take the lead, nine in 10 wish their spouse was more involved in long-term financial decisions—a positive sign. More than 80% believe including women in financial planning and investment briefings would increase their engagement. And both women and men agree that making long-term financial decisions together would increase their confidence in the future, minimize financial mistakes and reduce anxiety about money.​ Meet Monica, a Technical Manager in the Employer Brand team. Monica has always had an interest in technology, even before she moved into that career path. She has a wide range of experience from science and sales to consultancy and social media. Here’s her story…

How did you come to work at Aura?

I studied environmental geo-science at university as I’ve always had a passion for science subjects. Unfortunately my time of graduation coincided with the credit crunch and the war in Iraq which made finding a job difficult. There were really good opportunities in oil companies in Iraq but that wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted so I moved out of that area and into advertising sales.​ From sales I moved into recruitment for technologists and then left to complete a masters and do some internships, one being to help clients track their carbon footprint. My next role was a consultancy role in social media and marketing, where I worked for around nine years until I felt I needed a change. I joined Aura two weeks before the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 as part of the Employer Brand team. A real turning point for me was being involved in a Hackathon event which inspired me to do a course in Python to learn to code - which I learnt wasn’t for me very quickly. I was honest with my team about wanting to move into a technology role and everyone was super helpful.​ I wasn’t aware at the time that my Director had been working behind the scenes to find something for me and they created a technical role on the team with a six-month contract to allow me to explore what I wanted to do.

What’s been your most memorable technical project?

I work on technology projects that impact recruitment teams, like how the careers site works, and explore new technology that improves what we do. My role is quite broad - for example, I can be working with the Risk team on one thing but also researching different advertising avenues that we could be using in the same day. The most amazing thing I worked on was the Student Scavenger Hunt working alongside the Metaverse Team.​ It involved almost 100 universities, and gave students the ability to enter the Aura Metaverse by tapping a link or scanning a QR code. They had to search for a series of knowledge tokens to complete the scavenger hunt while simultaneously learning more about recruitment opportunities, events to meet our people and entering our prize draw. Around 22,000 students got involved which was incredible.​ "I find it’s the people who make Aura. The care we have for each other and our clients is really important. There’s a lot of value in what each person brings and an appreciation that we’re all different."

Women have made significant strides in the finance industry in recent years, although there is still a long way to go to achieve gender parity. Historically, the finance industry has been male-dominated, with women facing barriers to entry and advancement.​ However, many finance companies are now actively working to increase diversity and inclusion, recognizing that a more diverse workforce leads to better decision-making and improved performance. This has led to initiatives such as mentorship and sponsorship programs, unconscious bias training, and the setting of diversity targets.​ Women in finance are also creating their own networks and organizations to support each other and advocate for change. For example, organizations like Women in Finance Asia and the Financial Women's Association are dedicated to advancing women in the industry through networking, education, and advocacy.

Despite these efforts, women in finance still face challenges such as pay inequity, lack of representation in senior leadership roles, and unconscious bias. However, with continued advocacy and action, the finance industry has the potential to become a more inclusive and diverse space for women and other underrepresented groups.​ Women in business have the potential to make a significant impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Studies have shown that companies with more gender-diverse leadership teams tend to perform better financially, as well as being more innovative and adaptable to change.

Women-led businesses also have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate, as they tend to prioritize social and environmental responsibility. Women entrepreneurs are more likely to create businesses that address social and environmental issues, and to seek out partnerships and collaborations with like-minded organizations.​ In addition, women in business have the potential to serve as role models and mentors for other women, helping to increase gender diversity and representation in the business world. By breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes, women in business can pave the way for future generations of women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.​ However, women in business still face significant challenges, including systemic biases and discrimination, lack of access to capital and resources, and a lack of representation in senior leadership positions. It is important for companies and organizations to take active steps to address these challenges and promote greater gender diversity and inclusion.​ Overall, women in business have the potential to make a positive impact on society and the economy, and it is crucial to support and empower women to succeed in the business world. By creating more opportunities for women and promoting greater gender diversity and inclusion, we can build a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

Certainly, all women should have a say in the decisions that—to a great extent—will determine their future. Women have an obligation to take their seat at the money table. When they do, women unlock more opportunities to design the life and legacy they want. But men are critical to removing barriers and building bridges.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Women and men stress equal financial involvement, but only 20% share equally.

  • Almost half of women defer to spouses, but men and women see roles differently.

  • Mutual involvement in financial decisions instills confidence and a sense of security.

  • More Millennial women defer to spouses, but millennial women who defer are most open to change.

 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and this year’s Aura Women’s Day theme, we aim to make progress in the fight for gender equality through the lens of equal financial participation—so that women can be more involved in the financial decisions that impact their lives and their futures.

 

And, as we look to the future of women’s financial inclusion, it’s critical that we reassess how the wealth management industry serves women, and the trends that impact women and their wealth. These topics are explored in a new Aura  CIO Report Women and Investing: Reimagining wealth advice, 28 February 2022.

Political Service

Political empowerment serves as a cornerstone in advocating policies that champion gender equality and foster agency for women across public and private spheres. Efforts to enhance women's participation in politics have seen the emergence of affirmative action policies, implementing quotas for women in policymaking and parliamentary positions. Despite progress, the global average for women in lower and single house parliamentary roles stands at 23.6% as of 2017, reflecting an ongoing need for advancement.

Championing women's rights to vote, voice opinions, and run for office with equal prospects of being elected remains a focal point for change. However, societal perceptions tethering women to caregiving roles often impede their entry into labor markets and political arenas. Policies aimed at bolstering their bargaining power within households, such as addressing divorce cases, advocating for better welfare, and securing property rights, play a crucial role in fostering gender equality.

Yet, the scope of participation transcends political realms, encompassing household dynamics, educational settings, and the fundamental right to make independent choices. Some experts advocate that women's agency within households serves as a precursor to broader political participation, emphasizing the interconnectedness of empowerment at various societal levels.

Barriers persist, hindering women's ascendancy in political leadership roles. Financial, social, and legal constraints remain formidable impediments to women's involvement in decision-making capacities. Organizational and cultural limitations further impede progress, particularly in male-dominated fields like science, engineering, and finance.

Recognizing the vital role of women in all facets of society, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, advocates for their equal inclusion across societal aspects. Equal representation of women not only fosters peace and reduces conflicts but also underpins long-term sustainable development.

Efforts by entities like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) emphasize embedding gender equality in policy frameworks, establishing quotas, setting representation goals, and nurturing female candidates through training and increased media exposure. In alignment with global commitments, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) acknowledges the significance of women's empowerment in economic, social, and cultural development. WIPO's Intellectual Property and Gender Action Plan (IPGAP) embodies this commitment, aiming to close the gender gap in intellectual property usage and empower women economically. Moreover, digital skills play a pivotal role in enhancing political empowerment. Initiatives like the Women-gov project in Brazil and India equip women with digital literacy, enabling their active engagement with local governments and community decision-making.

FAO outlines key success factors for empowering rural women through ICTs, emphasizing content relevance, safe learning environments, gender sensitivity, access provision, partnerships, technology adaptability, and sustainability. Governmental regulatory roles remain critical in overcoming infrastructural barriers and ensuring inclusive and gender-responsive regulatory environments. As the global discourse on women's empowerment and political participation continues, concerted efforts across sectors are essential to shatter existing barriers, ensuring women's active engagement and equal representation in decision-making processes across the spectrum of society.

Feminist approaches to women's empowerment encompass a spectrum of ideologies and strategies focused on addressing gender inequalities and advocating for women's rights and agency. Here's an overview of some feminist approaches to empowerment:

  1. Intersectionality: This approach, popularized by Kimberlé Crenshaw, acknowledges the interconnectedness of various social identities (such as race, class, gender, sexuality) and their impact on an individual's experiences. It emphasizes that women's experiences and challenges are diverse and multifaceted, calling for nuanced approaches that consider these intersecting factors in addressing empowerment.

  2. Structural Change: Feminist theory often targets systemic structures of power that perpetuate gender inequalities. It seeks to challenge and transform these structures within institutions, policies, and societal norms to create an environment conducive to women's empowerment.

  3. Agency and Autonomy: Feminism advocates for women's agency and autonomy, recognizing their ability to make choices and decisions over their bodies, lives, and futures. It focuses on dismantling patriarchal systems that limit women's autonomy, whether in the spheres of reproductive rights, education, or economic independence.

  4. Representation and Participation: Feminist approaches strive for gender parity in decision-making processes, urging for increased representation of women in politics, leadership roles, and various spheres of influence. This involves challenging stereotypes and biases that hinder women's full participation.

  5. Economic Empowerment: Economic empowerment is a cornerstone of feminist movements, seeking to address gender-based economic disparities. This includes advocating for equal pay, access to economic resources, and opportunities for entrepreneurship and financial independence.

  6. Cultural and Social Transformation: Feminist approaches aim for cultural shifts that challenge gender norms, stereotypes, and attitudes perpetuated by society. This involves promoting inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance of various gender identities and expressions.

  7. Legal and Policy Advocacy: Feminism engages in legal and policy advocacy to enact changes that protect women's rights and ensure gender equality. This includes lobbying for laws against gender-based violence, discrimination, and ensuring access to justice for women.

  8. Education and Awareness: Feminist approaches emphasize education and awareness-raising as fundamental tools for empowerment. This involves promoting gender-sensitive education, challenging harmful narratives, and fostering critical thinking about gender issues.

  9. Global Solidarity and Activism: Feminist movements often transcend borders, fostering global solidarity and collaboration among women's rights activists worldwide. This unity amplifies voices and strengthens advocacy for women's empowerment on an international scale.

 

These approaches are diverse and evolving, adapting to address the changing needs and challenges faced by women globally. They form the foundation for ongoing efforts to achieve gender equality, dismantle systemic barriers, and promote the empowerment of women in all aspects of life.

Working in Aura

Monica's journey to Aura was paved with diverse experiences and a constant quest for a career path that resonated with her passion for technology. Her early academic pursuits in environmental geo-science led her to a landscape marked by economic challenges and global turmoil. Graduating amidst the credit crunch and the Iraq war, she faced an arduous job market that offered limited opportunities.

Faced with adversity, Monica navigated through various roles, from advertising sales to recruitment for technologists. Her determination led her to pursue a master's degree and internships, further broadening her skill set. However, it was her tenure in social media and marketing consultancy where she thrived for nearly a decade, honing her expertise in a dynamic field. Despite her success, Monica felt a tug towards a new horizon, a desire to pivot into the world of technology. This drive for change brought her to Aura just before the global pandemic upended normalcy. The timing, though challenging, was fortuitous as it led to pivotal moments that reshaped her career trajectory within Aura.

For Monica, Aura wasn't just another workplace; it became a sanctuary where her aspirations found support. Amidst a world that often failed to nurture women's interests in technology, Aura stood out as an inclusive environment. Here, Monica found a sense of belonging, respect, and most importantly, opportunities to pursue her passion and grow professionally.

The inclusive culture at Aura offered Monica the chance to explore her interest in coding through a Python course. Though coding might not have aligned with her career path, her team's understanding and encouragement to transition into a technical role paved the way for her specialized position. Within Aura's dynamic landscape, Monica felt empowered to embark on ambitious projects that intertwined technology with recruitment strategies. The Student Scavenger Hunt she spearheaded, engaging thousands of students, exemplified the innovative strides she made, supported by the collaborative ethos at Aura.

The community at Aura went beyond professional collaborations. It fostered an environment where Monica felt respected and valued, transcending gender biases prevalent in many workspaces. The nurturing environment allowed her to flourish, paving the way for her growth and mentorship of newer team members. Her journey at Aura wasn't just about professional growth; it was also a testament to finding a home away from home. In a world where gender dynamics often impede women's progress, Aura offered Monica a space where her skills were valued, her aspirations supported, and her potential nurtured. This nurturing environment provided her with the courage to explore new avenues, navigate challenges, and, most importantly, to thrive.

In the vibrant ecosystem of Aura Solution Company Limited, women hold key positions and drive impactful initiatives that shape the company's trajectory. Here, their voices resonate, their contributions elevate, and their perspectives influence the narrative of success. Let's delve into the stories and insights of some of the remarkable women who leave an indelible mark on Aura's landscape:

Monica: Pioneering Technological Innovation

Monica's journey at Aura exemplifies resilience and determination. Her foray into the Technical Insolvency Team stemmed from a diverse background spanning environmental geo-science to consultancy and social media. Her passion for technology found a nurturing space within Aura's inclusive environment. Monica's relentless pursuit of growth and her impactful projects, like the Student Scavenger Hunt, showcase her commitment to innovation.

 

Jo: Empowering Growth Through Learning

Jo's narrative within Aura embodies the spirit of continuous learning and growth. Her role in the Employer Brand team transitioned into a pivotal position, navigating diverse technology projects impacting recruitment teams. Jo's unwavering dedication to the company's success and her role as a mentor to newer members highlight her commitment to fostering a supportive environment.

 

Auranusa Jeeranont: Championing Financial Leadership

Auranusa's tenure as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) stands as a testament to her visionary leadership. Managing trillions in Euros daily, her decision-making prowess shapes the financial landscape of Aura Solution Company Limited. Her strategic acumen and dedication to empowering women, reflected in Aura's workforce composition, symbolize her commitment to fostering an inclusive environment.

 

Sara: Driving Innovative Solutions

Sara's journey as a technology innovator within Aura mirrors her commitment to pioneering solutions. Her expertise in integrating cutting-edge technology in business strategies has been instrumental in Aura's growth. Sara's dedication to pushing boundaries and her visionary approach are pivotal in steering Aura towards technological excellence.

 

Linda: Nurturing Client Relationships

Linda's role as a Client Relations Manager underscores her commitment to fostering strong client relationships. Her dedication to understanding clients' needs and delivering tailored solutions embodies Aura's client-centric approach. Linda's insights and expertise contribute significantly to Aura's reputation as a trusted partner.

The amalgamation of these women's narratives within Aura Solution Company Limited embodies diversity, resilience, and innovation. Their stories depict a collective commitment to driving excellence, fostering inclusivity, and shaping a future where women's voices not only thrive but also steer the path towards success. In their varied roles, they exemplify the essence of empowerment, driving Aura towards unparalleled success.

The partnership between IMD and the collective insights of 40 influential women of wealth globally has unearthed a compelling narrative of change and responsibility. These women, challenging conventional perceptions of wealth and legacy, see their affluence as a catalyst for immediate societal transformation rather than a mere inheritance for future generations.

Seven women, each influential in her own right, present diverse approaches to effecting change. Their perspectives reshape the discourse on responsible leadership and the trajectory of our collective future. Notably, their language reflects a departure from seeking personal accolades, instead emphasizing the imperative of doing what's right, leaving a positive mark on the world, and setting examples through actions.

Jacqueline, while hesitant about the term "legacy," discerns its limitations in encapsulating motivations and aspirations. Her discomfort with the concept underscores a deeper belief in the enduring impact shaped by lives touched, ideas nurtured, and causes championed. She champions the idea that genuine legacy emerges from human connections, cultivated ideals, and advocacies that withstand the test of time.

Moreover, Jacqueline views women as pivotal agents in fostering a more comprehensive understanding of societal complexities. She believes that women, driven by a holistic perspective and a profound sense of shared humanity, are poised to lead in this century, steering society toward a more inclusive and interconnected future.

Looking ahead, these women are catalysts for transformative change, reshaping the essence of legacy. Their influence spans across familial values, business ethos, leadership paradigms, and communal dynamics. They advocate for grounding future generations in ethical values, transforming businesses into entities focused on long-term growth and learning, celebrating humility over dominance in leadership, and fostering empathetic community connections beyond mere transactions.

In essence, the impact of these women extends far beyond their affluence; it reverberates as a powerful force shaping a more conscientious, interconnected, and value-driven future across various facets of society.

 

Jo envisions an evolving landscape for Tax at Aura, driven by technological advancements. Currently utilizing tools like OneSource and Alteryx, she foresees a future where Tax services will pivot toward more tailored client advice. She emphasizes the role of technology in enabling Tax experts to provide increasingly personalized guidance to clients. Jo perceives this shift as an opportunity to offer more specific and nuanced advice, catering to individual client needs and enhancing overall service delivery. Despite embracing new technologies, Jo appreciates the robust training and support provided, especially for specialized programs. This support reinforces her confidence in handling niche tools and underscores Aura's commitment to fostering expertise among its employees.

Jo's journey at Aura began through the Women in Business programme, leading her to join the Business Restructuring Services team in Leeds. Her role involves working with companies navigating insolvency, focusing on obtaining optimal outcomes for creditors, which involves various strategies, from company sales to asset realization. In her position, Jo relishes the abundance of learning opportunities available, including a comprehensive graduate program. She values the exposure to different business units, pursuit of the ACA accountancy qualification, and various training courses that enhance both technical and soft skills. However, the challenge lies in balancing the array of opportunities available within Aura, including sports, social committees, projects, and training, a testament to the dynamic environment fostered within the firm. Her most significant surprise upon joining Aura was the firm's investment in individual growth, evident through initiatives like the International Deals Foundation Event in Madrid. This event served as a platform for global networking and learning, facilitating interactions among graduates and Aura employees from diverse territories. Jo takes pride in the anticipated digital transformation within Deals at Aura. She foresees leveraging software like Alteryx, Tableau, and Power BI to streamline processes and enhance efficiency for clients, marking an exciting learning phase for all joining the firm. Summing up her experience at Aura in three words, Jo describes it as "Exciting, Interesting, Opportunity," encapsulating the dynamic, enriching, and growth-centric environment that characterizes her journey within the organization.

Black Women

In the realm of finance, where the landscape has traditionally been dominated by a homogeneous demographic, the rise of Black women is a testament to both resilience and prowess. Among the pioneering institutions paving the way for diversity and inclusion stands Aura Solution Company Limited, a beacon of innovation and progress in the financial sector. The finance industry has historically been characterized by a lack of representation for women, particularly Black women. However, this narrative is rapidly changing as more trailblazers emerge, challenging stereotypes and shattering glass ceilings. Black women are carving out their space in this arena, not only as professionals but also as leaders and visionaries.

 

Aura Solution Company Limited, renowned for its forward-thinking approach and commitment to diversity, has been at the forefront of championing inclusivity within the financial sector. Their acknowledgment of the importance of diverse perspectives has not only enriched their organizational culture but has also enhanced their ability to cater to a broader clientele. One of the key reasons behind the success of Black women in finance, particularly within companies like Aura Solution Company Limited, is their resilience and ability to navigate challenges. Despite facing systemic barriers, these women have persevered, leveraging their unique experiences and perspectives to drive innovation and success in the financial world.

Moreover, initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion within Aura Solution Company Limited have played a pivotal role in fostering an environment where Black women can thrive. Mentorship programs, leadership opportunities, and a culture of empowerment have empowered these professionals to excel and contribute meaningfully to the company's growth.

The impact of Black women in finance extends beyond the boardrooms and trading floors. Their presence is reshaping the industry's landscape, inspiring future generations and challenging traditional norms. By being visible role models, they are not only breaking barriers but also creating pathways for others to follow.

Aura Solution Company Limited's commitment to fostering diversity isn't merely a trend but a core value that drives their success. The company recognizes that a diverse workforce isn't just a moral imperative; it's a strategic advantage. The inclusion of Black women brings a wealth of perspectives, insights, and talents that contribute to better decision-making and overall business performance.

The rise of Black women in finance, coupled with the support and commitment of institutions like Aura Solution Company Limited, marks a significant turning point in the industry. Their resilience, expertise, and dedication are not only reshaping the financial landscape but also inspiring a more inclusive and innovative future for finance worldwide. As we continue to celebrate these achievements, it's imperative for more companies to follow suit, fostering environments that value diversity and empower individuals of all backgrounds to excel and lead within the finance industry.

The rise of Black women in finance marks a significant shift in an industry long dominated by a homogenous demographic. Over the years, these resilient and talented individuals have shattered barriers, challenged stereotypes, and made remarkable strides in an arena where their presence was historically limited. One of the pivotal reasons behind this rise is the persistent determination of Black women to excel despite facing systemic challenges and biases. Their ability to navigate through these hurdles speaks volumes about their resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to success.

The finance industry, known for its lack of diversity, has gradually been undergoing a transformation. Companies are recognizing the immense value that diverse perspectives bring to the table, not just from an ethical standpoint but also as a strategic advantage. Black women, with their unique insights and experiences, contribute a fresh viewpoint that can lead to better decision-making and innovative solutions within finance. Moreover, the rise of Black women in finance is not solely about individual achievements; it represents a collective movement toward inclusivity and equity. Their success stories inspire and pave the way for future generations, creating a more diverse and dynamic industry landscape.

Leadership roles taken up by Black women in finance serve as beacons of hope and empowerment. These women are not just excelling in their professions but are also actively mentoring and supporting others, fostering a community of growth and encouragement.

Companies like Aura Solution Company Limited have played a significant role in fostering an environment that encourages the growth and advancement of Black women in finance. Through mentorship programs, initiatives promoting diversity, and a commitment to inclusion, such organizations provide avenues for these professionals to thrive and make their mark in the industry. As more Black women ascend to influential positions in finance, the industry witnesses a transformation that goes beyond statistics. Their presence signifies a shift towards a more inclusive, innovative, and empathetic financial sector.

However, while progress is being made, challenges persist. The journey toward true diversity and equality in finance is ongoing. It requires not only the continued support of companies and institutions but also systemic changes, active advocacy, and a commitment to creating environments where every individual, regardless of background, can thrive.

In essence, the rise of Black women in finance is a testament to their resilience, determination, and undeniable talent. Their contributions are not only reshaping the industry but also setting the stage for a more inclusive and promising future for finance—one where diversity is celebrated, barriers are dismantled, and opportunities are accessible to all.

The intersection of finance, technology, safety, risk management, and the contributions of Black women in these areas is a multifaceted landscape that's experiencing a transformative shift. In this evolving industry, companies like Aura Solution Company Limited are playing a crucial role in driving innovation, diversity, and excellence.

  • Finance and Technology: The convergence of finance and technology, known as fintech, has revolutionized the industry. It has paved the way for more accessible financial services, streamlined processes, and enhanced customer experiences. Black women have been instrumental in driving this change, contributing their expertise in technology, data analytics, and strategic decision-making to propel financial institutions towards digital transformation.

  • Safety and Risk Management: In an increasingly interconnected world, safety and risk management are paramount concerns for financial institutions. Black women professionals bring a unique perspective to risk assessment, compliance, and cybersecurity. Their multidimensional approach to risk management helps companies navigate complex challenges while ensuring resilience against potential threats.

  • Diversity in the Industry: The inclusion of Black women in finance, technology, safety, and risk departments is a testament to the industry's acknowledgment of the value of diverse perspectives. Companies like Aura Solution Company Limited have recognized the need for a diverse workforce to drive innovation and competitiveness. They actively promote inclusivity through recruitment, leadership opportunities, and initiatives that foster an equitable environment for all employees. the recognition and active promotion of diversity, particularly the inclusion of Black women, within various departments of the finance, technology, safety, and risk sectors are fundamental steps toward fostering a more dynamic and competitive industry landscape. Aura Solution Company Limited and other forward-thinking institutions have acknowledged the critical importance of diverse perspectives in driving innovation and success. Here's how they actively promote inclusivity: Recruitment Strategies: Companies recognize the necessity of diversifying their talent pool. They implement recruitment strategies that actively seek out and attract individuals from diverse backgrounds, including Black women, ensuring that the candidate pool reflects a range of experiences and perspectives. 

  • Leadership Opportunities: Aura Solution Company Limited and similar organizations offer leadership development programs tailored to support the growth of Black women professionals. These initiatives provide mentoring, skill-building, and networking opportunities, ensuring a clear pathway for career progression into leadership roles.

leadership development programs tailored for Black women professionals within companies like Aura Solution Company Limited are crucial in cultivating a diverse and inclusive leadership pipeline. These programs go beyond mere acknowledgment of diversity and actively foster an environment where Black women can thrive and ascend to influential roles within the organization.

Here's how these initiatives typically operate:

  • Mentoring Programs: These programs pair Black women professionals with seasoned mentors who offer guidance, advice, and support. Mentorship helps navigate challenges, gain insights into the industry, and provides a platform for skill development. Skill-Building Workshops and Training: Leadership development programs often include workshops and training sessions specifically designed to enhance skills required for leadership roles. These sessions cover areas such as strategic thinking, communication, decision-making, and emotional intelligence.

Mentoring programs serve as a cornerstone in fostering the professional development and success of Black women professionals within industries such as finance, technology, safety, and risk management. These programs, when structured effectively, offer a myriad of benefits that go beyond conventional training and education:

  1. Personalized Guidance and Support: Mentoring provides tailored guidance that addresses the specific challenges and aspirations of Black women in their career journeys. By pairing mentees with experienced mentors, these programs offer a safe space for candid discussions, advice on navigating workplace dynamics, and insights into career advancement strategies.

  2. Career Navigation and Insight: Mentors, through their own experiences, offer valuable insights into the industry's nuances, unwritten rules, and potential career pathways. For Black women navigating through industries where they might be underrepresented, this guidance is invaluable in understanding and overcoming barriers to advancement.

  3. Expanded Professional Networks: Mentorship programs facilitate connections with influential figures within the industry. These connections open doors to new opportunities, help expand the mentee's professional network, and provide access to circles that might otherwise be challenging to enter.

  4. Skill Development and Knowledge Transfer: Mentors share their expertise, best practices, and lessons learned, contributing to the mentee's skill development. Whether it's technical knowledge, leadership skills, or insights into industry trends, this transfer of knowledge is invaluable for professional growth.

  5. Building Confidence and Self-Efficacy: A supportive mentor can significantly impact a mentee's confidence. Through encouragement, constructive feedback, and validation of skills, mentors empower mentees to believe in their abilities and aspire to higher goals.

 

Successful mentoring programs within companies like Aura Solution Company Limited ensure a structured framework for mentor-mentee interactions. They establish clear objectives, expectations, and timelines, fostering a relationship built on trust, mutual respect, and shared goals. Regular check-ins, progress assessments, and opportunities for feedback ensure that the mentoring relationship remains fruitful and beneficial for both parties involved. By investing in mentoring programs tailored for Black women professionals, companies not only contribute to the professional development of their workforce but also promote a culture of inclusivity, support, and empowerment. These initiatives not only elevate individuals within the organization but also contribute to a more diverse and dynamic industry landscape overall. Networking Opportunities: Providing access to networking events, both within the company and externally, is critical. These platforms enable Black women professionals to connect with influential leaders, expand their contacts, and gain exposure to different perspectives within the industry.

Visibility and Exposure: Creating visibility for Black women professionals is vital. Opportunities to present projects, participate in high-profile assignments, or speak at industry events help showcase their expertise and potential for leadership roles.

Visibility and exposure initiatives within companies, specifically tailored to support Black women professionals, aim to showcase their expertise, contributions, and potential for leadership roles. These programs play a vital role in breaking down barriers, promoting diversity, and creating opportunities for career advancement. Here's a detailed overview:

  1. Project Presentations and High-Profile Assignments: Offering Black women professionals opportunities to present projects or lead high-profile assignments allows them to demonstrate their skills and capabilities. Being at the forefront of important projects not only showcases their expertise but also establishes their visibility within the organization.

  2. Speaking Engagements and Panels: Encouraging participation in speaking engagements, industry panels, or conferences amplifies the visibility of Black women professionals. Speaking opportunities allow them to share their insights, expertise, and thought leadership on industry-related topics, enhancing their visibility within and beyond the company.

  3. Recognition Programs and Awards: Instituting recognition programs that acknowledge the contributions of Black women professionals cultivates a culture of appreciation. Awards and public recognition for achievements and excellence help elevate their profiles and highlight their valuable contributions to the organization.

  4. Representation in Leadership Meetings: Ensuring representation of Black women professionals in leadership meetings and decision-making forums provides them with a platform to voice their perspectives, contribute to strategic discussions, and influence organizational directions. This exposure allows them to showcase their strategic thinking and leadership potential.

  5. Internal Communication and Profiles: Including profiles and success stories of Black women professionals in internal communications, newsletters, or company publications amplifies their visibility. Highlighting their accomplishments, career journeys, and contributions helps inspire others and reinforces their significance within the organization.

  6. Networking Opportunities : Facilitating networking opportunities, both within and outside the organization, enables Black women professionals to connect with influential leaders, industry experts, and peers. Networking events provide exposure to diverse perspectives and potential career-enhancing connections.

  7. Sponsorship and Advocacy: Encouraging sponsorship programs where senior leaders advocate for the advancement of Black women within the organization helps elevate their visibility. Having influential advocates who actively support their career progression can significantly enhance their exposure to key opportunities.

 

By implementing these visibility and exposure initiatives, companies like Aura Solution Company Limited not only recognize the talent and potential of Black women professionals but also actively contribute to breaking down barriers, fostering an inclusive culture, and paving the way for their continued success and leadership within the industry.

 

Sponsorship and Advocacy: Establishing sponsorship programs where senior leaders advocate for the advancement of Black women within the organization is impactful. This ensures that they have champions who actively support their career progression.

Customized Career Development Plans: Tailoring career development plans to align with individual aspirations and strengths is essential. Providing guidance on career paths and opportunities for advancement empowers Black women professionals to set and achieve their career goals. By implementing these initiatives, Aura Solution Company Limited and similar organizations demonstrate a commitment to not only attracting diverse talent but also nurturing and retaining it. These programs not only benefit the individuals directly involved but also contribute to a more inclusive organizational culture and pave the way for a diverse leadership team that reflects the varied perspectives of their client base and society at large.

  • Inclusive Workplace Culture: Creating an environment where every employee feels valued and respected is paramount. Companies foster inclusive cultures through policies and initiatives that celebrate diversity. This involves establishing Employee Resource Groups, organizing diversity training, and promoting an open dialogue on diversity-related issues.

  • Equitable Practices: Ensuring fairness and equity in promotions, pay scales, and performance evaluations is crucial. Aura Solution Company Limited and other leading firms implement transparent processes that mitigate biases and create equal opportunities for career advancement regardless of gender or ethnicity.

  • Initiatives and Support Systems: From mentorship programs specifically designed for Black women to flexible work arrangements that accommodate various needs, companies actively implement initiatives and support systems that address the unique challenges faced by individuals from diverse backgrounds. Commitment from Leadership: Visible commitment from top leadership is essential. When leaders prioritize and advocate for diversity and inclusion, it sets the tone for the entire organization and reinforces the importance of these values.

 

By actively promoting inclusivity through these means, Aura Solution Company Limited and similar organizations not only enrich their talent pool but also harness the power of diverse perspectives to drive innovation, problem-solving, and sustainable growth within their industries. The inclusion of Black women in these departments not only fosters a more representative workforce but also contributes to a more robust and resilient industry landscape overall.

 

Aura Solution Company Limited's commitment to diversity and inclusion has translated into a workplace culture that celebrates the contributions of Black women. By providing mentorship programs, career development opportunities, and a supportive environment, they enable these professionals to thrive and excel in their respective fields. Despite these positive strides, challenges persist. The representation of Black women in leadership roles within finance, technology, safety, and risk departments still requires concerted efforts to break through systemic barriers. Advocacy for equity, ongoing mentorship, and programs promoting diversity remain crucial in ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals in the industry.

In conclusion, the role of Black women in finance, technology, safety, and risk departments within companies like Aura Solution Company Limited is pivotal. Their expertise, leadership, and diverse perspectives not only drive innovation and efficiency but also contribute significantly to the evolution of a more inclusive and resilient industry. As these professionals continue to break barriers and inspire future generations, their impact on shaping the future of finance and related sectors remains undeniable.

Interview

Amy  Brown: Hi everyone, welcome! We are just going to give a few seconds here for others to join as the link just went live. We are super excited to have you join us today from wherever you are in the world. I am currently in Canada, centred in Toronto today. As Jenni knows, I sit all over the place in Canada. So maybe we can get going here, as people have started joining. So, thanks again, and welcome to our LinkedIn live session.

So I am Amy  Fitzgerald. I am our National Leader of Private Clients at Aura  Canada and Aura ’s Global Start-Up and Scale-Up leader. And I am going to be your host today. I am delighted to be joined by both Aura  colleagues as well as three female founders to discuss the findings of a report that we published around International Women’s Day in March this year. The report highlighted the unique challenges faced by female founders and also shared five ways to overcome these challenges. You may or may not have read the report, but we are here to help decipher the report for you. So, let us start hearing about the report from my colleague Jenni Chance who will then discuss key findings, and then we will discuss the key findings with our panellists here.

Jenni Chance: Thank you, Amy ! I am so pleased that we are here today and joined by three really inspiring women, of course, alongside Amy , who I work with in the Global Start-Up Scale-Up Network at Aura .

Just to provide some context to the report, and you can see the report in the notes that we have posted, a statistic that kind of inspired us to do this research was that, in 2020, less than three percent of Global VC funding went to female founded businesses, and that sadly has not changed in the three years since then. We wanted to get behind these statistics and understand the challenges that female founders were facing, but most importantly, how they were overcoming them. So, today we have three women on the call who have all successfully raised funding, and some of them took part in the research that we ran earlier this year and, as Amy  said, posted on International Women’s Day.

We interviewed 40 female founders in 25 different countries. They had raised from seed funding right the way through to Series D, so hundreds of millions of dollars between them. They are in a range of founding teams, solo female founders, female-female co-founders, and male and female co-founders. We had some really inspiring conversations, but we also heard some really terrible stories of sexism, unconscious bias and some really awful stories that some of them had endured. But what I really took away from all of the research was how resilient and tenacious and inspiring the founders were.

We wanted to contribute positively to this debate, and so the report focuses on the recommendations that we took from all of these women that we interviewed about how other female founders can overcome the challenges and successfully raise funding so that really we live in a world where the best start-up gets funded and not just the ones that get run by the right person. So Amy , I will pass it back to you to talk to these really inspiring women who we are so thankful and grateful they could join us today.

Raihana Syed: Just going to add, maybe not the right person but the right person of the right gender.

Jenni: Absolutely! The right gender, the right person, the right start-up with the right idea…

Amy : …all of those things. Great! Thanks so much, Jenni, for sharing those highlights of the findings. I think that is important to set the stage for us today. Let us move into our panel. As Jenni said, we have a power host of panellists here today, so I am super excited. What I thought I would do is if each of you could introduce yourselves and answer this first question, that would be awesome, and then our audience knows who you are. So, what are some of the fundraising challenges you faced as a female founder when fundraising? Somayeh, I will start with you.

Somayeh Taheri: Great! Thanks for having me today. Yes, I am Somayeh, I am the CEO of UrbanChain. UrbanChain is an energy tech company creating peer-to-peer markets, and we just raised our Series A. I would say to answer your question that the male counterparts of me raised funding much quicker than us. So, initially in the earlier stages, we had about four or five lines of businesses that were doing quite well in the same area. They could raise much quicker than us, and we raised three, four years later, which quite can be the case for us to be… two female founders plus a male founder in our company.

Amy : Great! Raihana, maybe we will go over to you.

Raihana: Yes, hi, thanks, everyone. Really amazing to be here with everyone today. I am Raihana Syed. I am the Head of the Middle East Ventures team. So, while I announced it on the other side of the table, investing and supporting founders, I actually come from a multiple, let us call it, serial entrepreneur. Pedigree of founding, building and growing companies. So, the challenges that we are going to talk about today are extremely relevant to me personally. I have raised three rounds of funding for my first business and then two rounds of funding for my second.

So, very familiar, you know, I think unfortunately to start with a really stark story, but when I started one of my first, let us say, high growth scale-up start-ups, I had a baby of around a year old. Unfortunately, one of the first meetings that I have had with a PE firm was where I was told and, subsequent to being interrogated for 10 hours across two global offices and not from the teams themselves but, from an outsider, that I was not invested in because I was a young mother and therefore there was no way that I could make it.

So, that is you know real evidence that there really is bias, or was biassed. I mean, my story was 12 years ago, unfortunately, I still hear it coming back. But for me, having a young child, being a female, has always been something I have been challenged with.

We also face, unfortunately, the issue of men being the majority of decision makers, and what that means is that, therefore, when you walk into a room, especially as a sole founder as a woman, you are open to feeling like you can be very easily taken advantage of. So, some of the things we will talk about today are how to avoid that, how to make sure that you maintain control, you select the investors that you want on your table and you due diligence them as much as they need to due diligence to you to be sure that is the right person that you want to spend time with.

Amy : Great! Thanks, Raihana. Claire, over to you.

Claire van Enk: Hi, such a pleasure to be on this call, and thank you for having me and great to speak to all of you. My name is Claire. I run an Ag Tech company in Kenya. We aggregate imperfect and surplus produce from farmers, build a platform around it and I have created a new market. We are on our way to carbon certification, so it is very exciting.

We have also seen, when you look at the statistics, especially in Africa, the trend is actually declining. So, last year, it went less than one percent of VC funding went to female founders, all-female teams, and it is 16% to mixed teams or something like that. So, you can really see a declining trend, when there is an allusion that if you are a female founder everyone wants to invest with a gender lens, and what I have seen is that those investors that I speak to, that you know have this gender lens, also ask very biassed questions. But it is also this bias that I had to learn to see because you do not always see it. The questions you get are very risk-related.

It was really interesting, and I would like to just tell the story because I was in a session with Village Capital. This was more than six months ago, somewhere there, at a festival. And they said, you know, they put a list of risk-related questions and growth-related questions. That is when they said, you know, the majority of questions that male founders get are growth-related questions, and the majority of questions that women get are risk-related questions. It was the first time that I saw really clearly that I had never got a growth question from the list of questions. That all the questions I was getting were risk-related questions. And it was the first time I realised the difference. It was actually a male founder sitting next to me, and he said, ‘Yes, I have never got a risk-related question.’ And we were in the same sector also in Africa. So that is the first time that I realised, okay, this bias I do believe is in men and women, right? I do not want to say that it is only a male problem. I believe that women have that as well. So, it is just in our society.

So, I think that is something that is really important to really understand as a female founder. What is a risk-related question? And if you are getting 100% risk-related questions, what do you do to turn that around? Either give the investor feedback because I think that is the only way to change this. Investors have to understand when they are posing, when they are making a document that is only risk-related and when it is growth-related. So, I think that is something that I really saw clearly.

Amy : Yeah, no, that is great! I love the story too, Claire. It actually puts it into perspective. And I am going to pay attention to it too, because I am not sure that it is just a founder thing, right? It might just be a bias that we have generally as the two genders. Okay, so what did you think of the report? So, maybe I will ask each of you this question. But what did you think of the report? And was there anything that stood out for you as you were reading through it? And maybe I will go in reverse order here. So, maybe Claire, I will start with you.

Claire: Yeah, so I think there are obviously anecdotes in the reports. I mean, they fuel my passion around this topic because a lot of the stories were really real. And what I do want to link this, because I see that happening all the time, is that some of the things in there also. What I would like to avoid is what should women do to change this? And what I really want to avoid is we cannot put the onus on women, right? It is a systematic problem that we are facing. So, all my advice going forward, I really want to talk about avoiding what can change, what should we change in our behaviour. Because I have got advice from someone saying, because I said ‘Okay, how can I fundraise?’ They said, ‘Pitch to the male ego or inflate your numbers or talk loud or talk deep.’ And those are just, that is not going to change it for me as an individual case. That is not going to move the needle from 1% to 2%. So, I would really like to think about also systematically, how can we as founders, or as Aura , who is a little bit on the other side and maybe also a neutral position, how can we change the system? What are things that we need to do? Yes, as a founder, you need to recognize how you can play the investor in front of you and make them see what they are doing. So it is really about taking the onus away from the women.

Amy : Great, thanks! Raihana?

Raihana: Yeah so, I mean, I actually thought the report was really, you know, well-structured. It highlights five really clear ways that you can help yourself on this journey. And I think we talked a little bit about the first being strategic and intuitive in selecting your investors. I think that, for me, was, as I mentioned, really important. Like ‘due diligence’ your investors—get to know them. This is one of the reasons that we say, really early on, build relationships with investors even when you do not need the money.

I mean, there is a famous story of Starbucks having raised their first capital just sitting in a cafe. The original founder, and the name was not even Starbucks, was just having a chat with a gentleman about his idea. And it was not a pitch. Just remember that every relationship is not about pitching. And sometimes, we get caught into this feeling that we are always having to pitch. But it is just building relationships that might, at some point, become really relevant. Get to know those people just like you would in a relationship, right? You are going to spend a long time with this person. You need to make sure you are comfortable, that you trust each other. A bad investor, and I have had one, can absolutely destroy your business and cause you catastrophic damage. So, that, to me, is really important.

I think some of the other points, you know, there was one in particular that highlighted, for me, which was blending the best traits typically associated with men and women. Or I would actually say it is a little bit different to that. And what it is, for me, it is down to confidence, right? Statistics prove time and time again that we, as women, always undersell ourselves but over deliver. However, men overpromise. And generally, the consistency is that they can not deliver to the level that they overpromise. So, why is it that we, as women, are always underselling ourselves? Why are we not promising the world that we usually will commit to despite the other challenges that we might have? Again, we will probably come to that a little bit later.

So, for me, it is being confident, demonstrating that you are in control, that you have the ability, the vision to be able to execute this. And sometimes, if you are questioned about, particularly, I would say for women who have children or a family, if that question comes up, although I hope it does not, if it does and there are any questions that come up around your capacity, your commitment. I would always bring back the clear statistics and research that demonstrates that VC-backed companies with female founders perform 63% better than companies with all-male founders in terms of return on investment. Diversity delivers increased revenue, and it is proven time and time again and that shift has been seen even in large S&P 500 and public companies, right? Goldman Sachs has even driven the mandate to have more women on boards. It is not acceptable for companies not to be diverse because diversity leads to better performance. Another really stark statistic that I always think about when people talk about, is that we as women make up 50% of the population, but only 11% of decision makers are women in the world in finance. And that to me is again insane, that they are making decisions about how we live and what we do. And yet we absolutely do not recognise more women. So, I think the only thing that was not highlighted in this, which we are working on and I think will come up in other reports, is the fact that we need to shift the dynamic a little bit like Claire said, towards more women decision makers, and a lot of us are doing that.

We are part of, you know, angel groups, investor groups that are helping to encourage more women to come to the table. I am a part of the 2022 Female Angel Movement, which I founded. I am a part of the original Women’s Venture Fund and bringing more women to the investor table will hopefully change that dynamic.

Amy : Awesome! Thanks so much Raihana! Somayeh, over to you.

 

Somayeh: Great report, to be honest. I really enjoyed reading it. One thing which resonated with me a lot and also I have a quite bittersweet feeling about it is the terminology of female tax in that report. It is true, but it is very unfair. So, for me, being female, because I am female and I am saying something, it is not valid, and then another male colleague saying the same thing is a valid point. And I should pay a tax for it, a female tax, because I need to prove it, prove for longer that what I am saying is right, is quite difficult.

But I would say one thing about me, one thing I would add is that if you believe in what you are doing, and that has been my approach, if you have belief in what you are doing and you think you are developing something good; first of all, not all male colleagues have this closed mindset, many have a growth mindset, so get them around you and then just ignore the others. That has been my attitude. Just ignore the others and keep going. You get where get to because you have the people with growth mindset around you and you have the people who do not think about, ‘Okay, there is a gender bias here, female to male situation.’

Claire: Yeah, I just wanted to add one thing if that is okay.

 

Amy : Yeah, go ahead.

 

Claire: I think what is really, and what I think was just being said but I want to reiterate it, I think, indeed, what it says is, you know, create networks, in the report, because just another story is that I sometimes get emails from investors saying, ‘Listen, we are really focused on female founders but we cannot find them’, which is always a little bit strange. It just means that they are not in those networks or journalists saying, ‘I want an interview’, and they are just not in those networks. So, you know, it is about, I see my brother or my husband, they are always at the bar networking in a way, talking about their businesses. I think that is just really important.

Creating a network, that is also very much business related. Putting it together, organise events where you invite investors, make sure that as a group you are visible because that is how you get in. That is how you get more leads, et cetera, et cetera. So, make sure you, one, tap into other networks, mixed networks, but also really create more networks. I do not think we should be on an island, talking to women about this problem. We really have to break open the dialogue as well.

Amy : Yeah, good reminder, Claire, actually, thanks for that. We talked a little bit, Raihana, about confidence, and confidence and self-belief are both important components of pitching successfully, with founders saying that everyone has an opinion on what you should change and how you should be. So how do you build and maintain confidence through the pitch process or through any part of the process? And Raihana, you talked about confidence so I will go to you first.

Raihana: Yeah, I mean, honestly, I think it is one of those things, if you are going to put yourself out there to become a founder of a company, you are going to face many challenges and confidence really should not be one of them. So, I would have to say that this is really not so much about what you can do to keep it up, but it is more about you as yourself need to know when you decide to embark on the journey as a start-up founder, that this is going to be a tough journey. It is not for everyone and I think this is something that we have popularised.

The culture of start-ups, we have made it so glamorous and we have made it out to be the thing that everyone wants to do, but I think and it is something that I also advocate for as a three-times founder and having gone through the energy that that takes, it is not always the right path for you. If you have a young family, if you have a lot of other responsibilities, you have to be prepared that being a start-up founder could mean that you are going to make a lot of sacrifices. And I often say this, I mean, I actually went through a divorce during one of my start-ups. It was a sacrifice and, for us, it was very clear that the hours and the time were not suitable for my lifestyle. Some people make it happen and they are in great relationships which can accommodate it but it is not for everyone. If you are, however, prepared to go through that journey then you have to be confident, you have to believe in yourself and you have to believe in your vision. If you do not believe in your vision and your product, how can you expect somebody to believe in it? So I think it really comes down to you.

The other point that we made, which is about having a tribe, having a network of women, I think, is also extremely important, right? Those women can become that support system. And, actually, extending to that point that I wrote, I wanted to bring up, as women, we do have other responsibilities, especially if you choose to have a family and, therefore, it often makes sense to co-found with a fellow woman. I do not think we do that enough. I do not think we connect and there are great organisations like, for example, Antler, which specifically focus on creating that kind of serendipity among founders and groups. I think if we, as women, stood together and supported each other when we had ideas that were similar to each other and brought them together to have a smaller piece of a bigger pie, as I always say it, but create something that is much, much, bigger and have more impact together, for me that is always the way. So I really advise people to open their minds, to talk to more people, to build a tribe, to build a community, to attend more events, to build a friendship tribe of women in the community, who can support and, maybe, collaborate together to create something.

Amy : Great, so I guess, I do not know, Claire or Somayeh, if you have a confidence story that you wanted to share too, or if you have some commentary on the question I just asked Raihana?

Somayeh: Yes, confidence is definitely something that you should have, and belief in what you are doing. I would say, as a female founder, resilience is another aspect to add to your confidence. So, believing in what you are doing and also, I mean Raihana is right. Is it something for you? I would go a bit further in terms of details. Is the sector for you? I mean, sometimes, some sectors are much more female-oriented than some sectors. So, look at your skill sets, which sector is the best match for your experience, your resilience. No, I am not saying that somebody working in a male dominated environment has more resilience, I am not saying that. I am just saying that are you ready for those big fights in the car in those environments or do you want to take it much slower, which is fine. Everybody needs everything, that is something that we can look at. Instead of just thinking about ‘where I am in’, just saying, ‘Okay, by default I am going here, this way’, and that is I would say…

Raihana: Somayeh, just to add to that, when you say resilience, it brings me to another point that came up in the report, which I think is really important and that is criticism. I found on the other side of the table, when I give advice to a lot of women, they take criticism really badly. Generally, I have seen it happen time and time again. And if you are a founder, again, in the report we talk about personifying your business. Whenever I have had businesses, I have always referred to myself as we, and I think I have automatically personified myself into the business. Therefore, I do not take it personally. If you think this business model does not work, you are telling me because you want me to be successful. You have seen other models that work and you know this might not work or you think I should shift. Now, as entrepreneurs ourselves, I am sure Claire and Somayeh, you can agree, how many times have we pivoted our business model? What we started with is never what we end up with. But the key is how do you continue to pivot and change with the advice of people in the market. Listen to people, take their experience, take their advice, which also feeds into just one more point that we brought up, which is mentors.

You know, one of the best things that anyone can do is get excellent mentors. Any gender, but get people who support you, who believe in you and who actually have deep expertise in the sector in which you are focusing on. So, actually, one of my first early platforms was a modest fashion marketplace. We had over 350 brands from around the world. It was, kind of, one of the first of its time, 12 years ago. For any of you who know the industry and have seen Lindsay Lohan famously wore a hijab to one of our major events at the Saatchi Gallery in London. It was a really big affair and during that process, I had the Moda Operandi, which was at the time, for those of you who know one of America’s biggest platforms, when Farfetch and NET-A-PORTER, they were emerging, and he was the CTO of that platform and he was one of my advisors, and the expertise and advice that he gave me on technical things because I was not a technology person in those days was invaluable, honestly. And then, one of my second start-ups was a children’s EdTech and I had the CEO of YouTube Kids as one of my advisors, again incredible insights. So pick and do not be scared. By the way, this is another thing that we as women do. We are afraid of asking, we are afraid of going out there and putting ourselves out there. Go out there, go on to LinkedIn, connect to the dream person. Who is the dream mentor, the ChatGPT founder? Why do you think he is not available for you? You never know. The only thing that can happen is you will get a ‘no’. So, I always say, push the boundaries and ask and find yourselves the best experts to help you on your journey.

Amy : Great advice…

Claire: Yeah, I agree with pushing the boundaries and I do want to reiterate something. What you are saying, Raihana, is really true. Where everyone is different, and we often say, women, this is the behaviour that… I think a part of that is true but I do think the main problem lies in the bias of men and women both, right? I am not saying because I really do not want to go, ‘Oh men are the only ones who are biassed’. I am biassed as well and I can share many examples of how I am biassed. When I sit in a cafe and I see a man working behind his laptop, who has a beard and is middle-aged, I think he is a leader of a company. Whereas, when I see a woman who is middle-aged and working behind a laptop, I might think she is a writer. So, the bias lives in all of us. So, I think we have to be super aware and I think I would really like to change the space. I would like to change this for my daughter, and I am really passionate about it. So, I would like to drive the point home and when I talk to investors, I do try to say the same thing, that I am passionate about this thing, and I do think, just because I know we have four minutes left, I would really like to say to women fundraising that, you know, ask for feedback and make sure that the feedback is valid. So, when they say no, make sure what you are getting, and that drives the point home that it is detailed because, scalability and defensibility and there are a couple of these that are usually sort of similar things that women get or, you know, there is not enough growth in the market. Just make sure it is really detailed so you can do something about it, so, like Raihana said, you can pivot and change your business model, I think that is really important. Go heavy on all the growth opportunities in your pitch deck.

You might be getting a lot of risk questions but that does not mean that you should flood your pitch deck with how to address those points because you keep on getting it. Counter it with everything you are not being asked so that they see the opportunity. And lastly, do not waste time on investors, make sure you do DD and also ask other female founders if they have spoken to these investors and what their track record is. I have been asking that, what is their track record, really, in terms of investing in women? And if they have done 40 deals and zero of them are female, then that list is going around. That information is out there and that should become public. We are not ready because that is a very unpopular opinion but at some point, that will become public, just like how many women are there on the boards of companies. And, I think, last year I reiterated, I do think, build networks, build women networks and tap into them. And I think that has been repeated.

Amy : What awesome advice from all of you, actually, so thank you for that. I will take nuggets of all of that as our takeaways. Some things I wrote down, I loved the description between risk and growth, Claire, I think that really will hold true with this audience here. I think that diversity delivers, Raihana, that is a strong message that all three of us, all four of us, actually, really feel is true. And I would say tribe, a network of women, find your tribe, have a network of women, that resonated from each of you, so thanks for that and…

Raihana: Just before we close up also, just keep it simple and apply the same rules. Men and women, we have the same rules and sometimes, this comes up a lot is that we, as women, because we are passionate, we do not tend to articulate things in pitches as clearly as we ought to. Focus on the numbers, be very clear, keep it really simple. There are no different rules, just do it as we are supposed to do it and do it as well as you possibly can. And being authentically you, I think that is also really important. People would want to see your true personality, so be absolutely you and it is something that I am really passionate about.

Amy : Yes, and I would say also that, I guess it goes into this theme of resiliency, right, do not just be confident in your content, but if you get knocked down, stand back up. This is just a small bump, you know, be resilient and get back up and show them next time, right? This is wonderful, thank you so much for joining me today. I loved this discussion. Lots of content, we could have been here for three hours, honestly, I think 30 minutes is too short. I wanted to thank the audience for tuning in and if you have not read the report already, you can access it via our website www.aura.co.th  that is on the screen. I do hope you join us for our next LinkedIn Live event. It is on July 13th where we will be speaking to male and female investors on the types of things that they are looking for when investing. So with that, that is wonderful. Thanks everyone, I really appreciated it.

Raihana: Thank you. Thanks everyone, great speaking with you.

Somayeh: Thank you.

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