It seems they were destined to work together and make a difference. Here, we are talking about Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal and Rosita Rabindra, who had been colleagues and friends for over 30 years. They got together and started Diversity Dialogs, where the Mission is clearly defined: “To help organizations reap the benefits of greater gender diversity and inclusion across all levels and help women take charge of all aspects of their lives so that they can build successful careers”.
“Over the years we have shared our experiences and challenges as professionals and women who have grown to commercial and leadership roles in STEM,” shared Sangeeta. Plus they have also actively worked on global D&I programs, coaching and sponsoring women to grow and translating that into a business leverages interest, passion, and experience.
“We believe that the business case for diversity (of all types) and inclusion is so strong, that once companies understand its impact and benefits, their focus and drive to improve D&I will create a demand for our services,” revealed Sangeeta, all charged up.
Here’s getting up close with them as they chat up with Shree Lahiri about the journey, the challenges, the future ahead and more….
1. How did the idea of becoming an entrepreneur come up in your mind?
After working in corporate India across sectors, I wanted to do something that would have a larger impact on a larger number of companies. As diversity and inclusion is an area I am passionate about and there is a lot of work to be done in this area, starting a business that focuses on enabling organizations to reap the benefits of inclusion, was the logical next step. I co-founded Diversity Dialogs with a friend in 2016. As an organization we focus on the inclusion and increasing representation in the workforce of women, the LGBT community, different generations, and people-with-disabilities
2. How has the journey been and where has this reached today?
The journey has been exhilarating and steeped in unlearning & relearning. We have met with over 70 companies across sectors to understand their D&I strategies, goals, & programs, and have a deep understanding of realities and challenges faced by both organizations and minority groups. Over the last 18 months we have created an impact on people and organizations such as GE, Genpact, EY, Metlife, BT.
3. How would you describe some of the challenges faced by you?
As an entrepreneur, one needs to be multi-skilled and understand all the functional and technical areas of the business, be resilient as there will be ups and downs, handle uncertainties and ambiguity. As our services are strategic, we need show leadership in all we do to be able to present to, add value and work with boards and senior leadership of companies.
4. What are some strengths that a woman entrepreneur should possess?
I believe that women entrepreneurs and professionals need to build and leverage professional and personal networks, showcase their personal brand and improve visibility, socialize ideas to garner support, develop the ability to navigate biases and challenges, be resilient to stay the course.
5. Do you think the current business scenario encourages women entrepreneurship?
I believe that the environment is conducive for men and women to become entrepreneurs. The government has also taken steps to encourage and enable women to become entrepreneurs.
6. What are your future plans?
With reference to gender inclusion, our goal is to impact the lives of a million women over the next few years, by enabling organizations to create truly inclusive workplaces and working with women to take charge and grow their careers to leadership and board positions.
7. What advice would you have for someone starting out new?
It is critical that entrepreneurs have clarity of their product / service, the need being addressed or created, are open to making changes based on customer needs, being passionate about their business offerings, viewing entrepreneurship as a long-term commitment, and having a contingency plan. It is also essential that one has an involved and active advisory council.
(The responses are given by Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal but the basic thought is in sync with what her co-founder Rosita Rabindra feels about the issues raised.)