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Special Guest Q&A: DISABILITY ADVOCATE Sara Shams on International Women's Day

Special Guest Q&A: DISABILITY ADVOCATE Sara Shams on International Women's Day

Q. In light of this year's theme, "Inspire Inclusion," how has your journey as a woman in business inspired a sense of community or support among your peers?

A. I truly believe in learning from, sharing knowledge and space so everyone is heard, seen, and represented. I am part of numerous communities, where I advocate for authenticity, kindness and embracing ourselves the way we are. I make a conscious effort to consider who is in a room with me, and who isn’t. I then try to ensure they are involved the next time around.

Q. Considering the theme, what specific advice do you have for women entrepreneurs seeking to build supportive networks and connections within their industries?

A. I have learnt the importance of being authentic, open but at the same time, setting healthy boundaries. Do your research, align yourself to individuals who share common goals and values. Another big one for me – don’t forget your worth!

Q. On International Women's Day 2024, how do you envision women supporting and uplifting each other in the business world?

A. By celebrating achievements (including our own), creating equitable opportunities, and welcoming those who are new to the business space. There is always space for others, and when we come together, we share skills, experiences and uplift all involved. When you are in a room, look around – who is there, who isn’t? Then ask yourselves, how can you be more inclusive and empower others to do the same.

Q. Reflecting on your experiences, how has being a woman in business allowed you to contribute unique perspectives or innovations within your industry?

A. For me, my experiences come from the intersection of being a woman, being disabled and of colour. So, these three aspects enable me to provide complex perspectives, to challenge the widely accepted business models, particularly in the fashion and media industries, where we still have a long way to go to achieve authentic inclusion.

Q. In the context of "Inspire Inclusion," can you share a personal story or achievement that highlights the power of collaboration and unity among women entrepreneurs?

A. A few years ago, I applied for a grant to receive running legs from an organisation that empowers amputees (prior to this, I had never run in my life). Through this application, I connected with a wonderful woman who works in networking. She then introduced me to another incredible woman in business, who is advocating for improving mental health within the fashion world.

From there, we collaborated on various projects which addressed the inequity and mental health issues faced by at-risk individuals in the fashion industry. For me, this is what collaboration is all about – sharing knowledge, contacts and experiences, for the greater good. By empowering, supporting and uplifting one another, we can challenge the status quo, break barriers which lead to positive change.

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