Have you ever wondered why minorities are underrepresented in your favorite Game of thrones show? Similarly, have you ever wondered why there is under representation in your work environment or in the world around you? Or have you ever felt like you are being seen but not heard? If any of these questions resonates with you then my thoughts in this article might garner your interest.
I have been working for 22 years for companies ranging from nimble startups to fortune 500 firms in entry level to middle management roles. My work experience makes me uniquely qualified for penning my thoughts about diversity and inclusion. In my most recent experience working with a major financial institution service I was fortune enough to have worked in various teams from technology to business giving me the insight into a diverse perspective of different teams. Through my experience I have learnt that it is not just being represented or the not being represented but, the real question is are we being heard. I have over years felt like I have had to work extra hard and constantly prove my worth to be accepted. I questioned if my challenges and struggles were due to diversity being looked at as a detriment rather than as a strength.
As I shared my experiences with others, people started sharing their experiences and it seemed evident that it an epidemic concern that still needed to be addressed. Many felt like there still was an invisible limitation that pulled them down from moving up the corporate ladder or being heard. Although there has been a lot of work that has been done towards Diversity and inclusion, it felt like there still is a lot that can be done.
According to the annual 2018 diversity report, 66.8% of all jobs are held by men while 33.2% are held by women. Based on Quantum Impact’s diversity report, one out of every five organizations (20 Percent) do not have a single woman serving on their leadership teams. These number are even worse for women of color. Only 4 percent of the top corporate jobs are held by women of color. As interesting as these numbers are, these numbers totally substantiate my experience.
Studies have shown that diverse workforce not only brings creative thinking and a fresh perspective but also increases company’s bottom line. A recent Clover Pop research study conducted over a 2-year span with 200 business units showed inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. While these numbers for average teams were 66%. Decision made and executed by diverse teams were successful over 60% of the times.
Based on my experience, here are a few things I think absolutely needs to be done for us to be able to see some real change.
1. Leaders need to go through a training so that they become aware of their subconscious bias
2. Organizations should consciously make efforts to hire diverse leaders in executive roles
3. Leaders should consciously make efforts to interact with diverse team members. Leaders should ask themselves, who do they sit next to when they enter a meeting room? If you are looking for someone to go out and eat lunch with, who are you drawn towards? Make conscious decisions to be inclusive in your choices
These numbers and facts were call to action for me. I felt compelled to do something about Diversity and Inclusion. While there are many organizations that have started to do great work in this phase of diversity and inclusion, I still feel like a lot of work needs to be done. I am influenced to continue this work not only for me and many like me but also for leaders of tomorrow.
To move these efforts forward, I created a forum for us called “Inside the Diverse Mind” to address this epidemic concern of diversity and inclusion. Inside the Diverse Mind is a talk show featuring successful leaders in 45-minute episodes that will be telecast bi-weekly on YouTube and Facebook. Our focus at Inside the Diverse Mind is to educate and encourage leaders to be conscious and intentional about Diversity and inclusion in their hiring and leadership decisions. Our goal is to educate our future leaders and our next generation to learn the skills to be more inclusive.
Leaders from various organizations have come forward to support and participate in our show already making the right strides towards a better and inclusive diverse world.
Please like our Facebook page @insidethediversemind to stay updated on our upcoming shows.
Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI
A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community… yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!
As a woman, do you wear a lot of hats? Sometimes these hats are stacked so high that trying to balance them all on our competent-but-anxious-and-exhausted heads sends us toppling over completely!
Let’s meet Kanan Shah, from Coppell TX, who dons many hats and yet maintains such an amiable disposition. She is a teacher and runs her own customized tutoring academy called Ottimmo, is a true Mumbaikar at heart who loves to host great parties, make new friends, always ready to help others. ….and if that is not all she is a passionate cook and also runs a catering business!!
She spent her formative years in a joint family in Mumbai which inculcated the habit of sharing and caring right from childhood. It made her understand that living with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents did not restrict her education to academics and school only but it had a much wider horizon. She considers these years as her best as they were full of growing up fun with friends, most of whom she has still maintained contacts with, inspite of the distances.
She had her stint with Corporate America and worked with Deutsche Bank and Chase in New Jersey and then moved to Dallas in 2003, due to her job at Lockheed Martin. When her son, Kavi Shah started high school in Coppell, he expressed his desire to join KD classes for SAT preparation. Since Kanan had earlier worked in Kumon and had evaluated the different coaching classes, she decided to hire private tutors under her own company and have her son tutored at home. Thus was born Ottimmo, meaning “Excellence” in Italian, reinstating the proverb that Necessity is the Mother of Invention!!
Kavi Shah scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT, completed his graduation with 3 majors and 2 degrees from UT Austin and is currently working with McKinsey, the #1 consulting company in the world with global acceptance rate of 1%-lower than admission rate of Harvard!!
Kanan did not want Ottimmo to be a run-of-the mill academy. She focuses on strategy based learning, has been an advocate for her students, and customizes tutoring as per their needs. She not only teaches the child but also educates the parent and has also taken some to task for imposing their dreams on their child. She firmly believes that each child is different and their uniqueness is what sets them apart. Children learn in different ways depending on their developmental stages. They love to learn new things by exploring and discovering.
Her observation of kids brings a sad truth to light. Some parents are unaware of the needs of their child. Some knowingly ignore their child’s needs, due to social stigma, perceptions, culture etc. Some are unaware of the amazing education system of this country. This is the tragedy of a mega proportion. It is really unfortunate that, with the unhealthy life style and diet, unlimited social media exposure, stress etc. there are more children with special/extra needs than ever before.
On several occasions, Kanan has accompanied parents to school and talked to the authorities about the child’s needs, either special needs or the extra care and attention that is required in certain areas. She does the same when tutoring her children. She also understands the importance of self-initiative, down time and developing skills inherently rather than just memorizing. This has worked wonders for so many of her students. They have gone from failing students to star students, skipping grades and being admitted in the Gifted and Talented programs.
Where others see impenetrable barriers, Kanan sees challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome. She has always taken the hurdles along her journey as opportunities to grow. Teaching the kids for long hours not only brings her joy but she also derives her energy from them. She has a child-like inquisitiveness and is ever willing to learning new skills and avail new opportunities. She plans to take her passion to cook to another level and diversify into health food catering. Her mantra is “Don’t depend on others to write your destiny. We have to create our own destiny”. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand. She has a very inspiring message to share with us and that is not to underestimate the power of our own strength and to focus on what we can do to help others. Gaining success for yourself, celebrating the achievement in others and feeling and giving empowerment through every little action is going to make you happier, others happier. Everyone is thus more likely to push a little bit harder, or have that little bit more confidence in themselves, the next time!!
A page dedicated to ordinary people of
our community… yes ordinary, but with that
Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that
My first interview in these series is with a woman who true to her Company's tag line gives us India here in the US, like nobody does. A woman who started at the grass root level as a cashier and in less than a decade has risen to become the Franchise and Marketing Director of her Company. SHAMA RAJANI, the hidden face behind the brand India Bazaar. Ms. Rajani is originally from Hyderabad in Southern India and moved to the United States nearly eight years ago. She currently resides in Plano, TX with her loving husband who according to her is no less than a child .
She holds 2 Bachelor degrees from India, one in Commerce and the other in Education. Her thirst for knowledge led her to obtain her Masters in Education from SMU, Dallas TX whilst pursuing her full time job. Her family also consists of her father whom she considers her guiding force and her two siblings. Quite contrary to the saying that behind every successful man there is a woman, she proudly proclaims that her father is her support pillar. According to her, it doesn't matter what jobyou're doing, having someone believe in you can make all the difference between success and failure. Her hobbies include reading and travelling along with exploring new avenues.
Because she has been with the Company from the time they were two stores old, and served from the front desk all the way to the executive table, she is able to relate with her employees, no matter what their position. Getting to where she is today wasn't an easy feat, but Shama, proved with hard work and dedication that no goal is out of reach as long as you're willing to work towards it consistently. As she has grown with the organization, or better still in her words, as the organization grown with her, she has transitioned from building a performance brand to building a performance culture. She inspires and motivates others to be the best they can be. One of the biggest traits that has gotten her to where she is today is having the kind of passion and drive that is contagious with other employees and helps them see the business as their own. She is proud of her journey that started off more than six years ago and has now grown into displaying multi-folds of her leadership capabilities including but not limited to opening different locations of India Bazaar and marketing for overall brand existence of Rajula's Kitchen, Grain Market etc. Together with the owners, Shama, has the experience from opening a location, all the way to managing all aspects of it. She was awarded the Employee of the Year in 2014 and Executive of the Year award in 2017.
She thinks of herself as a Go-Getter, a person who doesn't believe in giving up. She believes in making impossible possible for its worth. She tries to achieve excellence in everything she does, as life is a survival of fittest and she means to be fit for a long time! To quote her, "In a male dominated society, women have a really stronger role to play and I leverage on my strength that no one can be ‘ME’. Shama Rajani is a true example that there's opportunity everywhere-even at the bottom of the totem pole & recognizing those opportunities and not being afraid to work hard and take on unfamiliar duties can lead to amazing things!!