‘I faced maximum discrimination from India peers’

Natasha Mudhar is the CEO and MD of the Sterling Group. Madhur runs operations across the multi-disciplinary business with expertise across real estate, finance, communication, media and entertainment, education, and CSR.

She is also the India director of Project Everyone supported by the United Nations and Bell and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched to popularise the global goals for sustainable development to end poverty by 2030. Natasha is a strong campaigner and regular commentator for female empowerment .

What do you think are the gender-based challenges that you faced in your journey? Tell us more about soft power.
Even though London is an international city, when I started my career it was not very common to see highly successful Indian females in the communications sector. Also the media sector is quite male-dominated. So I guess it was a case of double discrimination.

My mother Teji Singh founded Sterling Media – she was one of the first women from an ethnic background to set-up an international communications agency in the UK.

How do you define women empowerment?
Year on year, International Women’s Day has been set aside as a clarion call to recognise amidst ourselves, the work we have ahead for building a world where sexes are defined not by their gender but recognised as binaries – two uniquely distinct but equal entities roaming the face of this earth, and in some cases shooting for the stars.

There is some misconception marked by borderline misogyny when the subject of feminism is brought up, and to clear the air, being a feminist is no way a threat to masculinity, but instead it advocates equality and aims to deconstruct the very fragment of gender bias.

How has the situation/outlook of the world changed from when you started working to now?
Ironically I faced maximum discrimination from Indian peers and clients who, because of my Indian heritage, had the perception that I only worked with clients of Indian origin or that my work only extended to the Indian diaspora.

Today, Sterling is a high-profile, award-winning international business and communications consultancy, which is responsible for pioneering several industry firsts and capturing the public’s imagination with its incisive, thought-provoking and relevant campaigns.

Do you think equality at workplace is becoming a reality or is it still a myth?
In terms of gender equality in the workplace, strides have been made but even in western world, inequalities still exist in terms of there being a limited number of women holding top tier positions within companies’ right through to the ongoing issue of gender pay gaps.

Gender equality can only be achieved when everyone, irrespective of being a woman or a man have access and enjoy the same rewards, opportunities and resources. It is not about special rights but having equal rights.

What do you think are the prime responsibilities, of someone who has your power, towards the society?

My team and I are delighted to have the opportunity to be instrumental in conceptualising and bringing to life creative, effective and strategic campaigns which are directed towards making a change in the society. Initiating such impactful campaigns has been the source and sustenance of our everyday life.

Can you recall a few instances from your childhood that have had a deep impact on shaping the person you are today?

I’d say it’s to do with the struggles my mother as a single lady of ethnic origin had to face. I know I’m now highlighting the single, the lady and the ethnicity part of her, but my mother is one person in this world who will not let any form of discrimination impact her ability to do well. And that is a value I continue to imbibe in my daily life.