Even today, sexism is prevalent in every sphere of life. No matter how accomplished women become, they are often faced with bias and prejudice because of their gender. Society hasn’t still digested the fact that women are now sitting at the head of the table and giving instructions to their male counterparts.
One of the empowering and established women in business is Vineeta Singh. Most of us got to see the face behind makeup giant Sugar Cosmetics when its co-founder and CEO Vineeta Singh reserved a seat as a judge at Shark Tank India. The entrepreneur co-founded the company with her husband Kaushik Mukherjee more than a decade ago.
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She pursued electrical engineering at IIT-Madras and has an MBA degree from IIM-Ahmedabad. She was so clear about her aim of becoming a businessperson that she even rejected a job at Deutsche Bank that could have paid her a Rs 1 crore annual salary. And after multiple failed start-ups, her company Sugar Cosmetics finally clicked. However, while she was trying to make it to the top, she met with many sexist and orthodox people who added to her misery.
Sharing multiple instances where she was discriminated against for her gender, she told Kareena Kapoor Khan on her talk show:
“I have had various types of sexist encounters, starting with the fact that I was told, we don’t invest in women-founded companies. Only when your husband joins the business, we will give you a cheque.”
The next one happened around 20 years ago when she was doing an internship at ITC.
“I was told that the jeans and tight tops that I wear to the factory were not okay. I remember overnight I had called my mother from Delhi to Saharanpur with big baggy shirts, men’s shirts, and every single day of my two-month internship, I wore those oversized men’s shirts because I didn’t want that to be the reason I don’t get an offer.”
Vineeta, however, said that today, times have changed.
“If that would have happened today, I would have stood up for what’s right and people also wouldn’t have the guts to say these things to your face. But 20 years ago, people used to say things on your face. I think that has changed a lot.”
Since she employs around 2800 women in her company, Singh has a very refreshing and sensible take on feminism. Sharing what it means to her, Singh said:
“My take on the feminist movement is just about, in every boardroom that you go, if you’re saving a seat for another woman; if you’re taking the effort to lift other women as you’re climbing. And I feel that that’s the real feminist.”
The mommy of two boys elaborated, “If you believe that women should be equal, if you believe that women should be unstoppable, they should have a chance to go after their dreams and you’ve seen what a struggle it is for you. And you’ve gone through that journey and you know how hard it is, if you put in the effort to make it easier for the women who come after you, if you pave the way for them, if you coach them, mentor them take them along, support them, I think that is real feminism. ”
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It’s really shocking that people in power were more interested in the kind of clothes women wear to work than what they can actually do for the company. But if she says times have changed, we would like to believe that.