Our LEADHer’s episode features Arusha Imtiaz, Chief Commercial Officer of Daraz Pakistan, the largest e-commerce retail platform in Pakistan. WOW360 asked her to share her experiences and insights on Women in Leadership roles in the tech sector.
Daraz is Pakistans biggest e-commerce retail platform with a purpose to uplifting communities through the power of e-commerce.
The journey started out in 2012 when Rocket Internet was launched, in 2018 the company was acquired by the Alibaba Group after which it went through a full tech transformation. In 2022 Daraz’s new identity was launched.
Today, Daraz is South Asia’s leading e-commerce marketplace operating across Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
What Motivated you to join this Area of Expertise?
“The company I am working for, Daraz, does not only talk about women empowerment but also believes it, the Chief Commercial Officer before me was also a female. Daraz promotes diversity and does not believe in gender biases. In a personal capacity, I have received immense support from my family for pursuing this career.”
Pakistan has a small percentage of Women in Leadership Roles in the Tech Sector, why is that?
The Tech sector is majorly being led by men, we do find women in different sectors in leadership roles but very few in the tech industry, we asked Arusha what she believes is the reason behind this?
“I think in the Tech sector not only in Pakistan but generally around the world you will not find many women, and that is mainly due to the working culture in the tech industry which is slightly different from other sectors.”
The one thing similar with the educational sector or fashion sector where women are ruling in majority is ‘time’. Tech is extremely fast paced, the evolvement of these tech companies are at a crazy pace which require more involvement from people who are working there.
Empowering Women in Leadership: Effective Strategies and Implementation
We asked Arusha what she believes are the most effective strategies for increasing women in leadership positions and whether she has managed to implement any. Here’s what she has to say,
“Focus on grooming the young female talent in the company, so they can eventually reach leadership positions. Other than that the biggest battle we have to fight is the unconscious biasness that people have in their minds when they have to hire a person where they believe a man may do a better job than a woman due to longer working hours, etc. It is essential to talk about these issues in open forums without judgement.”
Empowering Women Through Flexible Work Timings
Arusha also believes, the Tech sector is the only sector which has now evolved and has a lot more flexibility available where people can choose to work from home easily. She also states that COVID19 was a turning point which changed things drastically in terms of work flexibility. Arusha further adds how it is essential for working women to find the right workplace that will provide that flexibility to them.
She further adds,
“Companies are beginning to realise that we want women to be an active part of the workforce and women to be empowered for the benefit of not just the company but the country and its economy as well.”
How do you help women enter the system?
Tech being a male-dominated sector, we asked Arusha how she helps women find their way into the system.
“I treat our female sellers the same way their male counterparts are treated, without any differenciation. Daraz launched a program by the name of Ibteda which encouraged women sellers to register on Daraz. 30 to 35% of the sellers are women on the daraz seller database. In my team, I conduct regular mentorship sessions with the female members working with me, while hiring we have a system in place that requires the HR to forward a certain percentage of CV’s of women to the hiring manager.”
Role of Men in Advancing Gender Equity in the Workplace
The role of men in advancing gender equity in the workplace is crucial and impactful. Men play a significant part in challenging traditional gender norms and creating inclusive environments where women can thrive. Arusha believes that gender equity begins at home, here’s what she has to say,
“For me personally it starts at home, men need to be comfortable with their wives,sisters and mothers working. When we begin empowering women, the equilibrium shifts and that is what men need to be comfortable with.”
Unlocking Potential: Empowering Women in the Tech Sector
We asked Arusha what can be done to encourage more women to join the tech sector,
“One thing that we cannot change about tech is that it is evolving and fast paced, what we can change is provide more flexibility, reasonable working hours and companies need to have day-cares.”
Driving Change through Female led Start-ups and Sustainable Growth
Due to the overall inflation across the globe investments are currently down and investors are looking for sustainable growth. We can expect to see a rise in female-led startups flourishing in the future as more resources, networks, and mentorship opportunities become available, women entrepreneurs are gaining the support needed to navigate the challenges and capitalise on their innovative ideas.
“Investments in tech have gone down in the last year and generally stock value and price have gone down too. The mindset is different now, women-led startups have grown over the years, and if you believe in your start-up you should go for it and continue pushing for it.”
Navigating Multiple Roles as a Working Woman
The focus on well-being is paramount, especially for women who juggle multiple roles of being a boss-woman, a mother, wife and daughter – that can be overwhelming at times. It is essential to prioritize self-care and establish a healthy work-life balance. We ask Arusha how she manages to do it all and the advice she would like to give to our readers.
“I personally think it is a lot about the support system you have at work and home. You need to be in the right head-space and you look out for yourself. From a working perspective it is essential to have work flexibility and on the personal front trying to figure out what makes you happy will help. We completely forget ourselves and that’s not okay as it is not sustainable in the long run.”
Stay tuned to WOW360.