As I sit down with a cup of chai to write, and think about this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Break the Bias, I try jotting down my definition of ‘bias’ and how we can break it.
After about an hour of staring at a blank page, the restlessness sets in and I look around for inspiration. And there it is, My Team. With a room full of the clicking keyboard noises, coffee and chai slurps, and occasional giggles along with the sweet voice of Trupti, our Customer Happiness Manager, saying, “Hi ma’am, how can I help you!” I had not consciously realized that I’m a part of an all women’s team. Is this what breaking the bias mean? I think it so. Being a part of a women’s team is personally inspiring and a unique experience.
However, to fully understand whether breaking a bias means working in a sitting where women outnumber men, we need to know where the bias is rooted.
Patriarchy if not plainly evident, is heavily rooted in our societies which leads to both conscious and unconscious bias against women in schools, colleges, workplaces and other public places. Women throughout history have had to pave their own way through success while cutting through the drawbacks of living in a male-dominated world. The statistics of the number of women experiencing gender bias is astonishing but seems sadly inevitable. Why is this? Because unless a woman steps up and voices out against unfair play, there is no real action or repentance of any kind.
What does this mean for a woman? For a woman, it means that she has to work twice as hard as compared to a man to get to the same position to prove her worth and prevail even when the odds are against her; or the second option, is to openly and actively call out gender bias every time she experiences it, which this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Break the Bias, seems to address. By doing so, she does not only set the stage for herself but also, inspires and helps women around her to take a similar approach. The ripple effect which her actions will create, will help carve out a space, globally, where women can be women without having to fight biases in their life.
Women, healthcare and the bias
Although women make up half the population of the world, there is a significant gender disparity between the research, treatment and diagnosis women-specific health conditions need. The vast amount of medical research remains limited, as it only involves primarily male participants. For example, most of the research carried out before the 1990s disregards the significant biological differences between the sexes. This makes it flawed as there are clear differences in the way diseases, drugs and therapies affect each gender. In fact, women-specific conditions remain highly under-researched which affects the diagnosis and treatment of such conditions. Gender bias can also influence how a doctor treats illnesses and approaches their patients.
Hence, in order to break the bias in healthcare, carrying out more specific research on prevalent health women conditions, and formulating women-specific medication and supplementation becomes essential. The dire need to treat women specific health conditions, inspired us to formulate supplements for women, giving birth to Unived Women.
Whether it is women in healthcare or women at the workplace, gender bias remains the most common and prevalent bias that women must overcome. Discrimination in medical research and diagnosis is unfair and takes away a woman’s basic right to adequate healthcare. Workplace bias can be challenging to deal with as it prevents a woman from advancing into higher roles based on her skill set alone or she is underpaid for her designation.
As mentioned earlier, I work with an almost all-women’s team and curious to understand how this came to happen, I sat down with CEO and Founder, Amit Mehta, to learn about Unived’s stance on gender bias and women in the workplace. Here is what Amit had to say,
”We didn’t originally intend to be a Women driven business. Certain experiences, and circumstances, led us to become one.
We did have quite a few men at the office in various roles across accounts, graphic design, and e-commerce. We had to part ways with each of them due to different reasons, some poor in performance while others took unfair advantage of the position they were in. We have faced similar issues with Women at Unived as well, and we’ve had to part ways with them too. However, broadly speaking, we’ve had better luck with Women than Men at Unived.
As the years rolled on, and the team grew, we began to recognize the attachment & long-term commitment many of the Women felt with Unived. To name a few, Vaibhavi, Mayuri, Deepika, Trupti, Urjita – they’ve been with us for between 7-10 years each. That’s commitment. They, and many of the newer team members, treat Unived as their own and work together as a family. Most of the team has joined us fresh right out of college. Hiring & supporting talented Women, giving them a platform to learn, grow, and contribute to the business, is imperative for our society.
Spending time with the team, and learning about gender-specific health challenges, led us to work towards developing the Unived Women line of products. We were the first supplement company in India to launch a research-based product for PCOS. That was followed by excellent formulations for PMS, Menopause, Pre & Post-natal nutrition, and certain Vitamin & Mineral formulations for Women. The products have been well received and are supporting hundreds of Women across India in their personal health journey.
We’ve also worked closely with Women in Sport. Sandi Nypayer is a World Elite Trail Runner from the US. We began working with her a few years ago. We’d discussed working on a product together, and early last year we began developing the Unived Elite Hydration Mix. Sandi tested the product for a long time and provided detailed feedback. After a lot of R&D, the formulation was set and we were finally able to launch it just a few days ago. US Olympian Rachel Schneider, another athlete whom we began supporting in 2021, also got involved in the project. We’re so proud that this product has been co-developed with two phenomenally strong & inspiring female athletes.
While we are an equal opportunity provider, circumstances have led us to being dominated by Women, and with each experience, we’ve slowly leaned towards recruiting more Women. We couldn’t be more proud of the Women at Unived, and the female athletes we support.”
How can I Break the Bias?
As a woman, #BreakTheBias is a reminder that gender bias can be so subtle and many times, unconsciously, accepted as normal. Hence, it is a call for self-reflection and call to action. Recognizing gender bias, discrimination, and stereotypes is a step in the right direction to eventually eradicate it from our society. This International Women’s Day let’s pledge to stand against gender bias and be accountable for our actions at home, our workplace and any other public space.
One significant step that employers, leaders, and associations can take is to create a gender bias-free environment that will help us take longer strides towards empowering women. As an employee at Unived, I feel extremely proud to work along other smart, hardworking and resilient women.
Lastly, #BreaktheBias I would like to leave you with a famous poem by Rupi Kaur–
On the sacrifices
Of a million women before me
What can I do
To make this mountain taller
So the women after me
Can see farther
Happy International Women’s Day!
By: Yeshwini Shetty