Iliana Loza used to get negative comments when she expressed her desire to create her own company. When she was studying for her master’s as a Chemical Engineer, she envisioned the project that, 12 years later, would make her a successful entrepreneur in the world of organic cosmetics.
Her company, Ahal −which in Mayan means “awakening” − was born one day in a class in which Loza was asked to develop a product with peach pits. After several tries, she decided to produce a body lotion.
“Everyone in the industry told me ‘you can’t, you have to use preservatives, you have to use synthetic fragrances’. But, I was stubborn. I believe that it has to be possible to do it in another way, one that is a little kinder to health and the environment. Besides, there is the issue that there are almost no women leaders in the industry. Why? If we are the ones who use the cosmetics, ”says Loza.
Ana Lucía Cepeda, the creator of Bolsa Rosa (currently Beyond Work“), recalls that, a little over a decade ago, it was common to hear the insult that women studied any degree “just until they get married”.
In fact, she also remembers that at her graduation ceremony, someone said that 70% of the students who graduated with honors at Tec de Monterrey were women, but, later, in the workplace, this ratio was not reflected in high-ranking positions.
“We started Bolsa Rosa in order to link women with flexible jobs as part of a business strategy within companies. I saw a great need in the market where women were not working, they were not reaching high positions. Why do some moms have to give up because they are pregnant? We are going to open this culture and create access to qualified women”, says Cepeda.
According to a report on gender equality from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mexico has the third lowest female employment rate after Turkey and Greece.
The problem, according to the report, is aggravated when women decide to have children. On one hand, there is no good public offer for child care and paternity leave is very low, only five days.
Lourdes Ocampo, a professor at EGADE Business School, and who has researched the labor development of women, explains the importance of companies participating in building a fairer work environment. For example, she started with a diagnosis in the organization itself on the issue of gender.
“Regarding the issue of equality, the most basic thing is to ask how many men and how many women you have working in your organization. Then you have to analyze what areas these women are in and what kind of functions they perform; what is the salary they receive. Ask yourself: are women equally promoted as men?” says Ocampo.
In addition to the structural elements, both the businesswoman Iliana Loza and Lourdes Ocampo, agree that there is a psychological aspect, which is why they invite women to never limit themselves in their work ambitions.