Women in Business was founded to be a resource and community that gives young women the tools to be successful in their professions — as well as in life. The club continues to bring in amazing female speakers and industry professionals who show our members the variety of ways to be a woman in business. Although WIB is an inclusive organization, it is not surprising that most of our meetings and events are attended predominantly by women. However, as much as we may enjoy this dynamic, it must be acknowledged that male involvement is a crucial part of the equation.
Men and women of all different ages, races, and beliefs will be our colleagues in the future, and tapping into this diverse support system will allow for a more equitable and supportive work environment. With that in mind, The Wire wanted to interview a man who has been supportive of the mission that Women in Business stands for. Shreyas Doshi, a 4th year business major, has interned at Deloitte, PwC, and is the co-founder of Mustang Consulting, a firm that provides student consulting to local businesses. Because of his professional achievements and involvement in WIB, we sat down with Shreyas to learn more about his views on allyship, privilege, and gender equality.
AP: Tell me more about Mustang Consulting and its culture.
SD: Mustang Consulting really has a “we” mentality. People say that, but we really believe it. One act of empathy and integrity first, and then intelligence and skills. If you don’t have integrity or empathy then you’re useless; we really value those traits. In consulting, the team is what matters more, and the team is empowered if they feel comfortable with each other. That will speak volumes when it comes to the quality of output that we give to our clients. Building a really good team is the core of Mustang Consulting.
AP: How did your relationship with the founders of WIB lead to you become more involved with gender equity issues?
SD: In Mustang Consulting, you’re supposed to know the people you work with; you’re supposed to be friends. That’s the culture we have. So if Shelby [Sly] is really passionate about gender equity, by nature, I’m going to learn about that. Through learning about that, I got more passionate about it. I understood that these are very pressing topics and I want to be more informed about them — that’s how my involvement with WIB came about.
AP: Can you give specific instances when you’ve encountered something that made you uncomfortable in a work situation?
SD: Women are slotted into certain positions. As a man, I can be secretary all the way up to CEO. There’s no friction — no one saying that I can’t do something. Whereas women, from experiences people have told me, try to go for something and don’t get it. There was an understanding gap where I didn’t understand why they couldn’t go for something or why they were nervous to do so. I used to think that maybe it was the skill level, but then I realized that the employer just didn’t think they, as a woman, could achieve to that level.
During an internship, I was off-boarding and my duties were bare and rudimentary. I was handing these duties to people coming onto the project. There were three new people — two men, one woman. I was in this meeting where it was being decided which person should be put on which job. The other two jobs were way more desirable, with strategy and data work. Literally a couple of seconds in, resoundingly, the decision was made to give the woman my grunt work. I asked why we couldn’t give it to one of the guys, and they gave reasons like “He studied engineering, and we think he would be better for this,” but I still asked, “Well, why not her? She’s good for the strategy team too.” In my head, I’m going, “Wow, this sucks for her.” My job is not fun and she was not judged off merit, in my opinion. There was really no difference to make one greatly better than another.
AP: How would you define allyship? In your opinion, what actions do allies take?
SD: I define an ally as someone who is not directly a victim of whatever is happening, not marginalized, but someone who can empathize with the struggles of this group and who wants to give their support. Support is not going over anyone’s head and speaking for them. It’s, “you’re a women of color at xy consultancy and these are the problems that you faced. Is there anyway that I can help you?” Or just listening. You don’t have to talk so much as an ally, they can do that — and probably infinitely times better than I could. So the least I can do is listen and absorb. You can ask questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or, “Well, what would you like to happen next time?” These questions are great because they deepen your understanding, so when you have other conversations you can empathize even more. I feel like as an ally, your job is to challenge and educate others.
Lastly, support. Voting is huge. If you don’t vote, the things you believe will never get put into policy or law. Supporting also [involves] more minimal stuff like noticing who’s not speaking in a meeting. It’s your job to facilitate; collect everyone’s opinions and voices. So if someone isn’t talking, and a lot of the time that’s the woman in the room, solicit some feedback. More importantly, engage and draw them into the conversation. When everyone is engaging, whether we have come to a consensus or not, people will feel like they had a good meeting. People have bad days, but you want to give everyone the opportunity to opt in. If they don’t want to take that opportunity, that’s fine, but the opportunity should be given.
AP: Everyone has privileges; what do you view yours as being? How do you use your privileges to raise awareness about issues you care about — like organizations like WIB?
SD: There’s so many. Well of course, being male. Well-off family. Connections that my family has, and I think that’s a huge one [that people often underestimate]. Access to all the basic amenities. Education. In certain industries, my race. Able-bodied. No health issues or learning disabilities.
One thing that I’m really passionate about is race. In the South Asian community I do as much as I can to help disadvantaged people. Since I have the education, economic status, and connections that I do, I feel that I should pay that forward. There are people who have the same education level or better that don’t have connections or money and they’re stuck. I try to figure out if they want help, and then look at what I can do to help them. Family or family friends will ask me to talk to their son or daughter and help them with any questions that they might have and I make myself available. A lot of people stop there, but I think that staying connected is very important. That mentoring relationship is important. As much as we want change to happen on a national level, that’s realistically really hard to make happen, but what you can do is make an impact on the community or local scale. And this means so much more. I think that that’s one way I do it.
*The above has been edited for style and clarity.
Shreyas is an example of how individual actions can make a world of difference. We all have different privileges and we can use them to leverage the voices of those who might not have otherwise been heard. Allyship and the use of our individual advantages to help minority groups creates an environment of understanding which will eventually lead to a more equal workplace and society.