This March, in addition to our work with farmers, we wanted to highlight and celebrate the invaluable contribution that the female leaders have made at, for, and from aQysta in changing the narratives for smallholder farmers globally.
aQysta has a global team working from India, Malawi, Nepal, and The Netherlands. And as we celebrated International Women’s day on March 8, we paused to reflect on our organizational culture, and deliberate on our journey so far in building female leadership across the company.
This we did by getting our team members’ views on what they like about working at and for aQysta and what we could do better to further strengthen female leadership.
Q 1 out of 4 : What do you love the most about working at aQysta?
Bipasha Sarma, Global Marketing Officer at aQysta working from Assam, India office shares, “ one of the things that make aQysta stand out is the amount of freedom and creative liberty that I get in my work. I love that I can collaborate with colleagues from three different continents, all working together towards the same goal of supporting smallholder farmers through farm incubator. ”
“Sharing an impact-focused company while working with a diverse group of colleagues and customers, makes the work exciting. On top of that, the high degree of freedom to develop oneself at aQysta really promotes the personal learning curve”, adds Heleen Verbeek-Sturmes, Global Agronomist (and value chain development lead) at aQysta.
Chisomo Kuyenda, Sales Officer at aQysta Malawi office shares, “aQysta’s company culture is well aligned with my personal goals. I feel a sense of belonging and I like my team members. I feel that I am working with a winning team.”
For Ramila Dhakal, Agronomist from aQysta Nepal, it is the excellent working environment, friendly colleagues, freedom at work, and the practice of information sharing from and with the global team– that makes her happy working at aQysta.
Sushila Biswa, the Accounts and Operations Officer at aQysta India, working from the Assam office opines, “there is a sense of trust, confidence in the work of an employee, diversity in culture, things to learn/know about the other teams in different countries, the initiative to encourage/help and provide better opportunities to the farmers that encourages me to give my best to aQysta.”
Q 2 out of 4: Do you think aQysta encourages and empowers its female employees?
The answer across the board was a loud and clear YES!
Puja Karki, Accounts and Operations Officer at aQysta Nepal says, “Yes! aQysta 100% encourages its female employees. There is equal pay & equal opportunities for everyone, fair compensation & benefits for women. and women-friendly or supportive work policies like maternity leaves. aQysta strongly supports & acknowledges the quality of work sans any gender bias.”
Heleen Verbeek-Sturmes, Agronomist who is at present in Nepal working with aQysta Nepal team, adds that “ Yes, I do feel supported by the company management and I don’t recognize any existing gender bias.
Q 3 out of 4: Has aQysta been a safe space to work, how?
The answer was again a 100% yes.
Let us hear it from our amazing leaders on why they find aQysta a safe space to work and a few suggestions they shared on how things can get better.
Chisomo Kuyenda, Sales Officer at aQysta Malawi office shares, “ aQysta has been a safe workplace by allowing females to become more confident in speaking up and being open about what is important to them.”
Puja Karki, Accounts and Operations Officer at aQysta Nepal highlighted the company’s zero tolerance for harassment. Puja added, “ Personally talking for the Nepal team it is very safe for women with educated, encouraging & supportive male colleagues to work with. The good workplace culture makes me feel safe at aQysta. In fact, aQysta feels like a second home to me. “
“aQysta encourages me to share my opinions and even challenge them if necessary. I appreciate that aQysta is committed to promoting my growth and development”, says Bipasha Sarma, Global Marketing Officer
Sushila Biswa, Accounts and Operations Officer at aQysta India added that aQysta is very safe and nurturing towards its female employees such that its female team members are not fearful of expressing ideas, suggestions and making decisions.”
Q 4 of 4: How could we at aQysta get better at onboarding and creating more female leaders?
Our female leaders generously provided their relevant and nuanced suggestions as well as feedback to enable aQysta to hire, attract and retain female talents at various positions.
Anticipating concerns from female employees, communicating benefits relevant to women like maternity leave while making job vacancy announcements, using gender-neutral language at work and in-office communications, being aware of an unconscious gender bias while hiring people for certain positions like jobs related to on-site farmer support or technical jobs, educating employees on the safety policies and conducting safety inspections time and again were the key suggestions our female leaders had to offer.
“The company can be a bit more proactive on checking in on issues”, suggested Tei Overgoor, GIS Analyst at aQysta. She explains that pro-activeness is more critical especially when everyone is working more from home because then it can be more difficult to notice issues as there is less personal contact.
Puja Karki, Accounts and Operations Officer at aQysta Nepal shares, “ the relatively low female leadership in technical teams (example: civil-engineering based roles) of aQysta is what I can point out as a room for improvement on the gender-equality aspect for aQysta.”
For aQysta’s HR department, it is indeed encouraging to understand that these female leaders find aQysta a safe and nurturing workplace that inspires and empowers them to do their best, and evolve to their fullest potential.
It is even more inspiring to see that they want to see more female leaders in job roles stereotyped for male colleagues.
This is a good note to share with you that aQysta puts in deliberate and dedicated efforts in building a workplace culture that is characterized by a strong sense of being purpose-driven, ambitious, accountable, teamwork, and effective communication.
Here is to more brilliance & power for our amazing female leaders! aQysta thanks each one of them for being such strong pillars of success and resilience in empowering aQysta and the broader community of smallholder farmers we partner with.
HR – aQysta