Bringing Gender Equality to the Investment Sector – The Harbus
To achieve the global mission of having equal gender representation in leadership positions in all sectors, it is important to foster the transfer of power into the hands of more women at all levels. Arushi Jindal (MBA ’23) starts with his own industry, finance and investing.
I grew up in an extended family where I was the first professional woman – no woman in our family history had worked outside of the home. But to their immeasurable credit, despite family pressures, my parents have stood their ground and supported me in pursuing my career dreams.
I was thrilled to land my dream job after college, but my joy quickly collapsed when I realized that the world of finance and investing was following the same pattern in that we do not have enough women in leadership positions.
The investment industry has maximum impact by supporting the growth of new ideas in an economy and, given the increased investment capacity and interest in recent years, it shows us what could look like the future of various industries. Most importantly, investing can play an important role in equal gender participation by having diverse teams in portfolio companies and funds and having more diverse LPs, helping to drive change at the local level.
Sadly, much of the decision-making is still not evenly split between men and women, and this disparity has ultimately led to extremely low support for female founders and startups serving women. According to a report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), women held only 10% of all executive positions in private equity and venture capital firms around the world. India’s figures were at 7%. Fewer than five funds focus on women entrepreneurs or focus on gender-specific investments in India.
During the five short but extremely adventurous years of my professional experience, I have faced some major challenges as a woman in the industry and have encountered several other challenges in interacting with other women in the industry. :
- Lack of mentorship and role models: I started my career with two other junior women who joined the same year, and we didn’t know what women could look like in leadership roles. Considering the female representation of just 7% for PE / VC funds in India, many women have struggled to present themselves as female partners. The lack of mentorship and role models also makes it more difficult for women to break into the networking industry.
- Impostor Syndrome: Almost everyone at some point wonders about stepping out of their comfort zone and asks if they are fit or qualified to do what they are aiming for. It is a fear that has hit women the hardest by setting a higher benchmark for their own assessment compared to their male peers. Another example is “hiring diversity”: while it helps the cause, the process creates the illusion of being hired because of gender and not merit.
- Lack of funding for the founders: According to Venture Intelligence, funding for female founders in India was only 6.5% in 2019. It’s fair to say that more female partners at the decision-making table can support more female or mixed startups, creating a flying effect. However, the lack of female investors deters many highly skilled female founders from pursuing their startups or raising additional funding rounds.
Learning through the experiences of other women and through my own career, I realized that we all face the same challenges, not knowing that we are all going through the same things.
After much discussion with other female investors, I co-founded Headway Circuit with a friend in the industry. Headway Circuit is one of India’s first female-only investing communities in the first decade of their career. At Headway, we want to focus on tackling implicit gender bias at the local level to avoid attrition as we move up the ranks. As most of the women at Headway aspire to long-term careers in the industry, having healthy interactions with our peers and seniors helps us build our vision.
We want to address gender parity in the investment space through our three-pronged goals:
- Networking: Since investing is a relationship and network driven business, one of our primary goals is to provide women with a platform to build a social and professional network in the industry, right from the start. of their careers as they move up through the ranks.
- Training and education: We offer coaching and knowledge workshops focused on the topics of investing in India, long term career opportunities in India, work-life balance and MBA-related discussions. The events include sessions in different sectors and stages of investment, with senior professional women and peers in finance and investment.
- Mentoring: We offer mentorship to aspiring women professionals and students who wish to pursue careers in finance and investing. Some of our events include one-on-one interactions and group sessions, networking with headhunters, and collaborating with like-minded global organizations.
This community has given us the perfect place to warmly discuss everything from gender bias management to work to careers and investing, while also creating a strong sense of community.
With 500 million internet users, a young population, massive growth in consumption and venture capital investments reaching nearly $ 20 billion by 2021, India is a good example of a vibrant investment ecosystem. and growing. Given the huge opportunities for investment and growth, ensuring that there is equal gender representation where capital flows is extremely important to empower the next generation of investors and women entrepreneurs. Through this network, I have realized the inherent desire of all of us to make a difference in the world, and we hope that Headway Circuit can be used as a platform to pass the baton on to other women and encourage change. of power to achieve equality.
If you want to mentor, host a session, volunteer or attend events, or just catch up for a coffee, contact me at [email protected]! Here is also a link to our website which has details about our members, in case you want to connect with someone else on the team. You can also find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Arushi Jindal (MBA ’23) comes from India. Prior to HBS, she was an investment professional at Mirae Venture Investments in India and South East Asia, dealing with growth and early stage technology investments. Prior to joining Mirae, she worked at Elevation Capital reviewing startup technology investments. She started her career as a graduate management partner in investment banking at Citigroup India. She obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Shri Ram College of Commerce at the University of Delhi.