Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Jerin Arifa, Founder and CEO at Sexual Harassment Solutions:
What does your company do?
My company provides proven sexual harassment solutions to reduce employee turnover and increase productivity. Grounded in the knowledge that traditional sexual harassment trainings don’t work, my approach uses what does: bystander intervention. I’ve worked to end gender-based discrimination for decades, receiving formal training and working alongside leaders in the violence against women sector: as an advocate, front-line staff and movement builder. Drawing on my expertise, I help companies attract and retain top talent through: individual and group trainings to recognize and prevent implicit and explicit bias; establishing processes to prevent or respond to harassment; and career coaching for women to land and navigate opportunities to excel in their careers. I leverage 14 years of successes in corporate and nonprofit communications strategies to survey and craft internal and external messaging that demonstrate organizational commitment to diverse and inclusive cultures.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
As the CEO, I love helping companies to foster corporate cultures where everyone loves their jobs. We spend most of our waking hours at work, and see our colleagues more often than our family members. Most of us have had experiences with toxic jobs, and know how draining that can be on our lives even when we’re not at work. No one should be subject to discrimination or harassment at their places of employment. I love inspiring each employee to harness their own leadership to foster company cultures based on empathy and respect—so that team members can focus on innovation and excellence—instead of losing productivity or leaving altogether due to sexual harassment. It’s fulfilling to leverage my experience of training hundreds in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors to change work as we know it, one company at a time.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
Research shows that companies with diverse talent pools come up with more innovative solutions and yield higher profit margins (35% and 15% higher for ethnic and gender diversity, respectively). Yet, women and minorities are still underrepresented in managerial and executive positions. Research also shows that sectors with lower percentage of female employees have higher rates of sexual harassment.
Some sectors have wider gaps than others, especially STEM fields. With the recent focus on the #MeToo movement, some companies seem more willing to tackle these issues. Unfortunately, most of the sexual harassment trainings currently available are not effective. I’ve heard too many stories of well-meaning companies who hire ineffective trainers and consultants. Many of the times, these consultants are HR professionals who lack nuanced understanding of gender dynamics, or how to help employees recognize and prevent implicit and explicit bias.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
I would tell her to get over the self-doubts and start the company years ago. I was afraid to start my business, but I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I spearheaded the sexual harassment, assault, domestic violence and stalking policy for the largest, public, urban university in the U.S. – while undocumented. I've always been a creative problem solver, whether it was creating an anti-poverty program in Bangladesh as a child, or winning awards for cutting-edge cancer research as a teen in the U.S. I love America, and wish I started my business as soon as I became a citizen. Ending discrimination and all forms of inequity is my life’s mission. I want equality within my lifetime. I know we can achieve it.