With everyone working at, or beginning their own start ups, it may seem as if the road to success is easier to reach than ever before. However, different sectors react differently to start ups. Within the Fashion Tech industry, CEO of Xehar, Hadari Oshri has tackled various challenges and achieved incredible levels of success. Below are a couple of instances where Hadari found herself directly diffusing unprofessional attacks from colleagues and why she chooses to approach those situations the way she does.
Question: What is a unique obstacle that you find yourself facing as an up and coming entrepreneur within the fashion tech industry?
Hadari: Recently I was at a conference where I was invited to speak about Xehar. Once I was on stage, I found it easier to present than I had anticipated. Everything was going well until I got to the middle of my presentation. Out nowhere I was interrupted by someone in the audience. It took me a second to realize what had happened and the audience was as in shock as I was. However, I knew I couldn’t ignore the fact that this man had rudely interrupted me and tried to publicly embarrass me in front of a large audience. I addressed him professionally and informed him that it was my turn to present and that my time should be respected just like everyone who would get a moment on the stage.
Upon wrapping up my presentation I discovered that the person who interrupted me was presenting right after me. Once all of the presentations came to a close, I approached him and looked him in the eye while saying, “That was not acceptable. Make sure that it never happens again.” I doubt that he would have done that had it been anyone else, but because it was me, he felt like it was his place to rush me off so he could speak. I felt the need to address him personally because if I didn’t he might have been under the impression that his actions were harmless.
Question: What do you believe the best way to move forward with these issues are?
Hadari: The best way to address these issues is directly. I’m not going to give people the opportunity discredit me and the work I’ve done just because they’re intimidated by what I can accomplish. As I experienced first hand, women in business are still struggling to be taken seriously, much less treated with respect. On top of that moment when I was on stage, I experienced another instance at the very same conference where I was harassed on stage.
I was at a dinner that was hosted by the organizers of the conference. I found myself having a conversation with the person sitting next to me and again, out of nowhere this person from across our table interrupts us to say, “Be careful around this woman, she’s dangerous!” At that point I was blown away by the fact that this was my second time experiencing this kind of behavior from professionals. Almost immediately I said, “Fuck you. Why did you feel the need to say that?” Some might say that I wasn’t being professional by cursing him out, but the line was crossed when that man made that slandering statement.
It’s comments like these that continue to make it difficult for us to be taken seriously in business. I’m not sure what drove those people to be disrespectful towards me, other than to discredit my work. However, I believe that when moments like that take place, it’s important for to speak up and not let those things fall by the wayside. In order to put an end to this type of behavior, we have to address issues the moment they take place.
Instead of apologizing or allowing others to interrupt us in the middle of our scheduled presentation, it’s important to address these issues through direct action. While this not may be the easiest thing to do, it important that we find the strength in us to speak up for ourselves. When we let others know that what they’re doing is wrong and is disrespectful, it gives us the opportunity to regain control of the situation. Hadari Oshri knows from first hand experience what it’s like to not be taken seriously in a room full of colleagues and professionals. Irregardless, she continues to build and develop a successful fashion tech company.