Dr Aarti Gupta

In a world where gender biases still persist, some individuals emerge as beacons of change, breaking through barriers and paving the way for others. One such trailblazer is Dr. Aarti Gupta, an accomplished entrepreneur, investment strategist, and advocate for women’s empowerment. In an exclusive interaction with Collective for Equality, India-based Dr. Aarti Gupta shares insights into her background, leadership journey, and strategies to overcome gender biases in the workplace.

Born into a business-oriented family in Hyderabad, Dr. Aarti Gupta learned the value of ambition and exploration early on. With a supportive family that encouraged dreaming big without gender restrictions, she pursued academic excellence, earning postgraduate degrees in Economics and business studies from Northeastern and Harvard University. Despite the challenges of raising a two-year-old child, Dr. Aarti Gupta obtained a PhD in Economics from India Institute of Technology Kanpur at the age of 32.

Her decade-long role in managing the family’s investments laid the foundation for her expertise in finance and entrepreneurship. Entrusted with leading the family office, Dr. Aarti Gupta strategically diversified assets across various sectors, from fixed income and public markets to private equity and startups. Simultaneously, she founded Anikarth Ventures, an angel investing portfolio focusing on early-stage companies in consumer, fintech, and femtech.

Beyond her business endeavours, Dr. Aarti Gupta serves as the National Head for FICCI FLO Startups and an independent director on boards like Jindal Stainless. Through the Anikarth Foundation, she actively promotes women’s financial literacy and readiness, advocating for more inclusive leadership.

Overcoming Obstacles: Key Learnings for Young Women

When asked about key learnings for young girls facing gender biases and obstacles, Dr. Aarti Gupta emphasizes the importance of self-belief and courage. “True confidence and courage come from within,” she asserts. Encouraging young women to embrace their gifts, she advocates for building a strong support system and tuning out stereotypes. “Take smart risks, embrace uncertainty, and commit to expanding your skills,” she advises.

Highlighting the significance of financial independence, Dr. Aarti Gupta encourages women to aggressively build their skills and support each other. “The more we uplift each other, the faster we change the game,” she remarks. Anchored to her vision of being a changemaker, Dr. Aarti Gupta strives to empower women to reach their highest potential through her various roles and initiatives.

Drawing on her extensive experience, Dr. Aarti Gupta shares insights into best practices for fostering workplace gender equity. Engaged leadership, sponsorship programs, and structured guidance relationships with executive coaches are crucial, she notes. Evolving performance review systems, adjusting succession planning processes, and modelling inclusive behaviours at all levels contribute to creating a culture of equity and inclusion.

Riding the Innovation Wave: The Role of Women in the Workforce

Recognizing the undeniable link between diversity and innovation, Dr. Aarti Gupta emphasizes the importance of women’s perspectives in the workforce. “With greater diversity comes greater creativity,” she affirms. Companies that leverage women in their talent mix double their thinking breadth and problem-solving potential. Dr. Aarti Gupta cites studies showing that gender-balanced teams consistently outperform predominantly male groups in revenue, innovation, and decision quality.

To ride the innovation wave, Dr. Aarti Gupta recommends consciously removing gender barriers in recruiting, seeking out female perspectives in solution design, and actively developing rising women into management roles. She points to success stories in India’s startup ecosystem, highlighting the wisdom of embracing gender diversity for business success.

Addressing biases that hinder women’s career progression, Dr. Aarti Gupta identifies inflexible attitudes towards leave and remote work as a significant obstacle. To counter this, she advocates for normalizing hybrid/remote policies and fostering flexibility in leadership. Outdated performance systems that allow unconscious bias to influence promotion decisions also pose challenges. Dr. Aarti Gupta recommends skills-based evaluation, bias mitigation training, and outcomes auditing to bring clarity to the promotion process.

The lack of senior female role models, women’s risk aversion, and the need for multifaceted interventions are other challenges Dr. Aarti Gupta highlights. Encouraging stretch assignments, promoting transparent promotion criteria, and investing in backup talent can inspire smart risk-taking and contribute to overcoming biases.

For Dr. Aarti Gupta, a true commitment to workplace gender diversity requires tangible actions and investments. Setting clear representation targets, monitoring metrics related to hiring, attrition, and promotion rates, and holding the entire team accountable are crucial steps. Recognizing the business benefits of inclusion, Dr. Aarti Gupta emphasizes the need to extend the commitment beyond senior leadership to mid-management levels.

The Role of Men in Achieving Gender Equality

In Dr. Aarti Gupta’s view, gender equality is a shared journey, and men play a crucial role in leading this change. Addressing unconscious biases, giving talented women visibility, advocating for their career progression, and adopting empathetic leadership styles are key actions men can take. Supporting flexibility and work-life balance for everyone reinforces a commitment to an inclusive workplace.

When discussing the challenges corporate leaders face in achieving gender equality, Dr. Aarti Gupta emphasizes the need for addressing issues at both macro and micro levels. From investing in skills training for women in STEM sectors to challenging stereotypes about leadership traits, the journey towards genuine gender equality requires sustained commitment. Dr. Aarti Gupta underscores the transformative impact of leaders committed to gender equality, actively role modelling change, and investing in infrastructure for inclusive growth.

Dr. Aarti Gupta’s insights serve as a guiding light for aspiring women leaders and a call to action for organizations to embrace diversity, foster inclusion, and ride the wave of innovation through the collective strength of diverse perspectives. As she passionately asserts, “We are the first generation that might experience some semblance of parity, and there is something very exciting about that.”