Friday, May 31, 2024

A dream with a deadline


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Aspire For Her, a business consulting service, Mumbai, has a dream- to add one million women in the workforce by 2025. SPAN writer  Michael Gallant reports

Madhura DasGupta Sinha spent over two decades working as a banker in Mumbai, during which she studied economic data about women in India. She discovered that women contributed only a tiny amount to India’s economy, and the numbers kept falling. “I felt that India and Indian women could do better, and that somebody needed to solve this problem,” says Madhura. “Somebody needed to empower women to enter and thrive in the workforce, and I thought that somebody could be me. That’s how ‘Aspire For Her’ was born.”

Founded on International Women’s Day in 2020, Aspire For Her is a Mumbai-based business consulting and services company that helps women in vital ways. It teaches women to become financially independent, supports them as they turn career dreams into actions, and helps them gain the education they need in order to thrive. In 2022-23, the organisation partnered with the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai to launch the first cohort of Women on Boards, to advance representation of women in leadership roles. Over the course of eight weeks, participants received intensive training on topics like boardroom expectations, networking and how to use social media. More than 40 participants successfully completed the program, and two of them were selected to join the board of directors in different organisations.

“Women On Boards is designed to support women on their journeys to become independent directors,” says Jamuna Ravi, CEO of Vayah Vikas, a senior citizen-oriented organization, and a Women On Boards participant. She found the program’s online sessions, access to experienced leaders, case study assignments and networking opportunities particularly helpful. “Another great quality of Madhura and her Aspire For Her team is that they have still managed to keep our group connected,” she continues, “even after almost a year has passed since we graduated from it.”

In December 2023, Aspire for Her and the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai launched Women On Boards 2.0, to train 50 women in mid- to-senior-management roles in Western India to join leadership and board-level positions. Through virtual and in-person sessions over nine months, participants will develop a leadership mindset via role modelling, hands-on learning, previewing careers and peer-to-peer networking.

Dream with a deadline

Aspire For Her is on a mission to add one million women to the Indian workforce by 2025, and use the power of local communities to support that goal. “It’s a dream with a deadline,” Madhura says. The main thing that needs is to change people’s mindset, she continues, and Aspire For Her has created powerful and varied programmes to build communities around women and make it happen.

For example, the organisation works with over 300 leaders who mentor other women. “These mentors are chief executive officers, chief experience officers and other executives who can help take you to different levels, open career doors and open the windows of your mind,” Madhura says. Aspire For Her’s mentor database covers a wide spectrum of industries, including women leaders at Microsoft, Google, Deutsche Bank, Adobe, Air France, the Indian Motorsports Federation and many more.

Sharing successes and breaking barriers

Aspire For Her doesn’t just help women find a community and mentorship, it also celebrates its members’ success. “Every day, we share stories of women succeeding in careers to inspire other women to persevere in their own journeys,” says Madhura. “The idea is simple. ‘If she can see it, she can be it.’”

Aspire For Her, however, has its work cut out. “It’s not easy changing mindsets and turning opponents into allies,” says Madhura, “but we have to teach everyone that it’s good for everybody when women are empowered to succeed.”

Madhura says her organisation tries to overcome barriers by working with male mentors who speak regularly about gender equity in the workplace. “Many men gain perspective when they become fathers of daughters and begin to see unconscious bias through their daughters’ eyes,” says Madhura. “We want to build a community of male supporters who will help women become financially fluent and unleash their potential.”

So far, the organisation has helped nearly 400,000 women enter the workforce. And Madhura says the goal of reaching one million by 2025 is well in sight.


Trans World Features

(Credit to author and TWF mandatory)


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