Laletha Nithiyanandan is a seasoned Singapore-based entrepreneur with over four decades of experience. Beginning her entrepreneurial journey at 20, she credits men, particularly her father, for championing her cause.

“Men, particularly my father, played a crucial role in championing my cause,” she says. Laletha chooses not to wear the label of victimhood, instead she prefers to move forward toward opportunities and people who are supportive to her.

In this conversation with Collective for Equality she emphasises the need for women to change their narrative, steering away from negative thinking. Negative thinking is a luxury we can’t afford, she says. Laletha’s journey in business offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs, women entering the workforce, and organizational leaders striving for gender equality. Her emphasis on inclusivity, self-acknowledgment, and collaborative efforts resonates in a world seeking to create a more balanced and diverse professional landscape.

Laletha is currently involved in a number of businesses and community projects. The ventures include Behavioural Consulting Group, Gastrogeography of Singapore and Stratton Recruitment based out of Australia. On the community front she is the advisor to the Asia Institute of Mentoring (AIM), a certification and standards body for mentoring in the region and as Advisor to AIM and a board member with the BoP Hub (Base of the Pyramid) where solutions are orchestrated for the hard to solve problems of the world in order to end poverty through business.

Describing business as a journey rooted in humanity, Laletha spoke of her father’s teachings on integrity and honour shaping her approach. She found her clean lens, unburdened by preconceived notions, resonating with others, contributing to her business’s organic growth.

Leadership Lessons for Women

Addressing young girls entering the workforce, Laletha urges them to believe in themselves. She advises adopting a less emotional approach and choosing battles wisely. “Men they let it go. They know how to choose their battles. It is important to listen to ground-level feedback and diverse perspectives within the organization,” she says.

Having started in the recruitment industry, Laletha applauds companies like Google for their progressive policies. Praising Google’s approach, she said, “I like Google’s way of doing things, where you could put u to 20% of your work week on projects of your choosing.”

Laletha describes transitions in her career as natural progressions, often fueled by challenges that demanded self-reflection and adaptation. She learned to navigate biases by refining her communication style, ensuring her views were heard and respected.

Discussing biases, she shared, “I found myself often being the youngest in the room…and my views weren’t being noticed.”

Imposter Syndrome and Acknowledging Self-Worth

Discussing imposter syndrome, Laletha noted that women tend to downplay their abilities during interviews. She emphasized the importance of positive self-talk, self-acknowledgment, and recognizing one’s value.

Reflecting on imposter syndrome, she said, “It’s about self-talk, acknowledging yourself that you’re good enough.”

Laletha highlighted the need for leadership commitment to drive gender diversity initiatives within organizations. She emphasized the importance of developmental programs for women and fostering a non-biased work environment. “The first thing you need is leadership commitment…it has to be senior leaders,” she says.

The Quota Debate and Men’s Role in Gender Equality

Expressing her personal stance on quotas, Laletha emphasized the importance of earning a position rather than filling a quota. She called for more discussions with men to increase awareness and champion gender diversity. Sharing her perspective on quotas, she said, “Personally, I don’t want to fulfil a quota.”

Achieving workplace gender equality is matter of bringing inclusivity in the narrative. She encourages bringing men into the discussion and finding solutions collectively. Reflecting on inclusivity, she shared, “I feel that together we can find a solution.”