She can and you can too! Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson appointed as CEO of Hemas Group.

She can and you can too!

There’s something that touches us, women, deep within every time a woman gets the top seat.

It’s more like one more box to tick off – of climbing the ladder. Of reaching the top. Of achieving success that sometimes, for too many women, remain an elusive dream.

When one of Sri Lanka’s high caliber corporates appoint a woman to its top seat, we tick off more than one box.

In fact, as women, we can tick off several boxes that tell us we have come a long way.

As Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson takes over as the CEO of the Hemas Group, the signal it sends to the hundreds of Sri Lankan young women aspiring to be their very best, is powerful indeed.

Numbers tell the story –

It is significant because the numbers tell us that the majority of CEO posts in Sri Lanka are held by men. According to the Report on Gender Diversity Among SL Business Leadership published by the International Finance Corporation during the period 2015 – 2017, only one company among 30 largest listed companies in Sri Lanka, had a woman chairing the Board – and that too for just one year. It gets harsher – 59% of companies have only one or two women on their boards while 19% have all-male boards.

So yes, her appointment could not have come at a better time.

Gender disparity aside, Sri Lanka along with the rest of the world, is struggling to overcome the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We all know that it takes more than sheer courage and commitment to want to fight on – in business, in entrepreneurship, in keeping the flame of hope lit for another day.

Changing times are good times –

To have a woman heading a key corporate entity with interests across a wide spectrum of consumer goods, some of which cater to women, signals to us that it is time to change.

Kasturi has singlehandedly captured the goodwill her appointment has generated – on behalf of all Sri Lankan women.

Whether they are women in the North and East struggling to keep fires burning in women-headed households, women in the South striving to overcome challenge economic conditions or girls with burning ambitions to escape poverty and rise up in their chosen world of success.

The potential to be more than TikTok icons – she can and you can too –

It tells us that there is potential for young women on this island to want to go beyond a limited spectrum of becoming social media icons, TikTok celebrities, and Instagram influencers. Nothing wrong with any of that – it’s just that the potential is much, much more.

That hard work, commitment, and an unwavering vision can take you higher than you could possibly think – that the road you choose has the potential to inspire others.

Kudos to the Board of Hemas for the faith and trust they have placed in female leadership potential.

It also drives home some of the points that have been on the table for some time now.

Sri Lankan corporate sector empowering women –

How does the Sri Lankan corporate sector truly empower women – from grassroots all the way up to management and eventually the board?

Is there potential – the real, true potential for Sri Lankan women to climb the ladder of success without being afraid of gender bias or dismissed on grounds of being a woman – or having to deal with million issues that come with the territory?

Women who struggle with a work-life balance, women who find mid-career pregnancies challenging, women with small children who need constant attention – sometimes, some of them never make it to the top.

In reality, many of them give up.

Often enough, they choose entrepreneurship to be able to manage better the home-life equation.

And then comes along icons such as Kasturi who tells the rest of us that it can be done.

That a woman can indeed rise above all things to head a conglomerate with a strong corporate presence.

That it is ok to sometimes struggle with all of which comes as a part of being a woman. Raising a family. Taking care of aging parents. Being a friend to a friend in distress.

And the guilt.

Of not being there for every pat on the back, the birthday parties, the tests, the homework supervision.

Many of us struggle with the guilt of not being able to be the superwoman we somehow thought we could be.

Well, guess what, we are not and it’s ok.

So as we celebrate the appointment of a woman to a top corporate slot, we also hope that this would indeed open doors to many women to be considered for the top spot.

Not just to make the data look better but to make room for real change.




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