Hello Reader,

What a great way to connect with leaders who are intent on Diversity & Inclusion! It has been 18 years and we have made the anticipated impact in more ways than one, in our journey to create organizations such as yours’ intentional about D&I. As you know, we are called AVTAR – We have the logo of a butterfly.

So you will agree if I call my story “The Butterfly effect”

Like 48% of Indian women, I took a break within the first 3 years of my career. Marriage, Motherhood and Mobility (or the lack of) were the key reasons. But I wanted to return to the workplace.

I approached a recruitment consultant who was convinced that I would make it back. But the company that she sent me to – more specifically, the hiring manager of that position - the Marketing head of a telecom company – was not convinced. He – like a lot of men in the workplace at that time believed that women themselves were a bad bet at the workplace, married women – worse, and a married woman on a break – the very worst! It did not help that I ticked all 3 boxes!

But my talent could not be doubted, so he gave me the job – but at a 40% cut down from my previous job 2 years ago.

That was the point that this Butterfly effect began.

I was possessed of an energy to make sure that I would do everything in my power – not only to create a company that would hire only women, but also women on breaks! More than that, I also decided that the environment needs to be changed.

I named our organization – AVTAR – The power of Change.

Yes, over the past 18 years, we have changed many things!

We have changed the way hiring managers see the resumes of women on breaks – today over 66 organizations in India have formal second-career programs for women, hiring a reported 7000-8000 women on break, each year!

We changed corporate India's habit of tracking and monitoring gender diversity metrics - not one, not a few, but over 400 metrics through the cross section of gender inclusion initiatives that provide enough power for the Business Case! The Working Mother and Avtar Best Companies for Women study enters its fourth edition this year, with a million diversity metrics behind it.

We changed the perception that young underprivileged women cannot be skilled and brought into the formal workforce. Our Project PUTHRI – Puthri means daughter in many Indian languages – is working on skilling a 10,000 deeply underprivileged girls to make them employable in white collar jobs

There cannot be a better representative of change and metamorphosis than the Butterfly. That my own story – “the Butterfly effect” which stands for creating change should impact the work that we do and the millions of lives, as a result. Thank you, leaders, for being who you are!

More importantly, thank you for believing that an organization built on the premise that WOMEN – privileged, underprivileged, marginalized, young, old, on a break, working and entrepreneurial – are all important in a developing economy like India – is worth listening to!

Happy Reading!


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Dr. Saundarya Rajesh

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