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FROM OUR FOUNDER


I am delighted to welcome you to our new portal!

Avtar is no stranger to you. You have known us for 20 years and counting, an organization that has pioneered the movement of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in India! A team that truly believes in the vision of Inclusion. Passion with purpose defines us. And it is our mission to help and support organizations like you in creating truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces where innovation thrives, and businesses succeed.

The Business Case for DEI

Research has established that an inclusive culture can help employees feel more belonged and hence keep them engaged and motivated. When Inclusion becomes the cultural bedrock, employees can bring their most authentic selves to work and productivity surges. They feel heard and respected. They are more aligned to the organization’s purpose and mission. The discretionary effort they consequently commit to the organization sees an up-tick, net productivity being positively correlated to this effort!

Of the 100 organizations that featured in the prestigious 2020 Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women in India listing, 52 companies recorded improved innovation post new product lines, and 81 companies reported an increase in customer satisfaction. Both innovation and customer satisfaction are markers of heightened employee productivity. It is heartening to note that this is during a timeframe when the companies reported their gender ratio of women increase by 2.9%. The LGBTQ community is fast gaining appreciation and acceptance – they make about 5% of the Indian workforce.

The DEI Journey

Companies in India may be placed at different levels of what can be described as the DEI Maturity Curve. Among these, about 10% of companies in India Inc. are further along their journeys on the curve, with committed diversity goals that they pursue through unwavering commitment to inclusion. These are role-model organizations that have made diversity work, have communicated the need for equity, strongly and have inclusive foundations on which they thrive.

And with this platform, we hope to bring more organizations up the curve in the coming years. Come, join us in this journey of Inclusion!

Dr Saundarya Rajesh

Founder – President, Avtar Group

Dr. Saundarya Rajesh is one of India’s most respected thought leaders on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. An award-winning social entrepreneur, she is best known as the pioneer of Second Career opportunities for women in Corporate India.A relentless advocate of the potential of women in the workplace, Dr. Saundarya is the founder of successful social enterprises such as Avtar Career Creators, Flexi Careers India, Bruhat Insights Global and Avtar Human Capital Trust. Her latest brainchild myAvtar.com is India’s first diversity jobs portal for candidates belonging to the under-represented groups such as Women, People with Disabilities, People with LGBTQ+ identity and Veterans.A recipient of several awards and recognitions, Dr. Saundarya has irrevocably changed the game for the Indian Woman Professional, by introducing the concept of “Career Intentionality” and “Career Re-entry” to Corporate India. Her path breaking and exemplary work in the space of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has established her into a much sought-after advisor of choice for an impressive list of organizations and leaders on the benefits of a diversely inclusive workplace. Dr. Saundarya is a highly sought-after speaker at conferences — both national and international– and a firm believer in integrating work and life. In her pursuit to develop and inspire people to grow to their full potential, she has made her debut in through the book – “The 99 Day Diversity Challenge™” published by SAGE that hit the stands on October 30, 2018.

Recognitions and Awards

March 2007

The Standard Chartered SCOPE Woman Exemplar Award 2006

May 2007

The Yuvashakhti Women Entrepreneur Award

July 2008

Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s Award for Most Relevant Social Contribution to Business

February 2011

The CavinKare’s Chinnikrishnan Innovation Award for creating India’s first flexi-career service for women

September 2011

TiE Stree Shakti, Entrepreneur of the Year Award

November 2011

India Today’s Business Wizards of Tamil Nadu Award and featured in a coffee table book on women entrepreneurs by the same publication

March 2012

FICCI FLO Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award for building and creating India’s first women’s careers service

March 2014

Naturals Extraordinary Woman Award

January 2016

One among the #100 Women Achievers of India, an initiative by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India

February 2016

The Jeppiaar Icon Award

May 2016

Listed in the Top 25 Women Transforming India, by a joint effort between the United Nations and the NITI Aayog

March 2017

Change Maker Award by Accenture on the International Women’s Day for leading Indian women stay intentional about their careers

September 2018

SRM CURE (Cross-Skilling, Up-skilling, Re-Skilling, Empowerment) Award for work in the category of Empowerment

March 2019

Golden Aviator Award by Aspire Systems for contribution towards Women Development

March 2019

Chennai Carnatic Women Empowerment Award by Rotary Club of Chennai Carnatic

March 2019

WebWonderWomen Award by Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with Twitter India and Breakthrough India for using the power of social media to run positive campaign to steer a change in the society on the International Women’s Day

2019

One among the 35 Global Leaders featured in the Change makers: 35 visions of global leadership photography exhibition in London

2019

Winds of Change Award in the individual category conferred by The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

November 2020

International Global Women Achiever Award

March 2021

ISBR Abhinandana Award 2020

99DDC book

There is growing evidence indicating that Diversity and Inclusion are critical predictors of organizational success. Managing a diverse workforce is a business reality, yet challenges exist. Leaders in the boardrooms are recognising the impact of D&I and often seek a toolkit that will enable inter-cultural competence. To maximize and leverage the benefits of the 21st century workplace diversity, companies will have to create a sustainable D&I model to not only ensure an inclusive environment within organizations, but also a powerful competitive edge in the marketplace. However, is it really possible to disentangle the strands of D&I within the proverbial 99 days?

Award-winning social entrepreneur Dr Saundarya Rajesh, one of India’s most prominent diversity strategists who is credited with having ushered in the ‘second-career’ revolution for women professionals, believes it is. In an engaging, gentle, often light-hearted way, Dr Rajesh demystifies this vast subject of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) for the business leader, the diversity enthusiast and even the young professional who is curious about this topic. Over a set of stories, anecdotes and thought blogs, this book sequentially uncovers what inclusion and diversity mean and how this can be absorbed by just about everyone. At the core of The 99 Day Diversity Challenge is the belief that the organizational practice of inclusion actually results in us becoming better human beings. For when we break down differences and create greater connectedness between people, we are building a better world.

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What is The 99 Day Diversity Challenge?

A never-before account of the nascent experiences of implementing the culture of D&I at the Indian workplace

A precise explanation on the different strands of diversity, how to leverage each strand and the future of the D&I thoughts

A customisable framework to set organizational inclusion goals, design a methodology to accomplish them and track your progress

Ready-to-use tools put in the most interesting and gripping way, this book will unlock the diverse human potential at your workplace

With a lexicon, word puzzles, crosswords, engaging D&I games, this book is all set to enrich the reader with an all new experience for those set to begin their own D&I journey.

Buy Your Copy From

Advance Praise

  • I find great value in both the concepts around inclusive leadership and the stories that reflect these concepts in The 99 Day Diversity Challenge. Very innovative and engaging! Dr Rajesh has chosen a unique format that appeals both to the head and to the heart.

    Deepak Iyer
    Managing Director,
    Mondelez International, India
  • In this day and age of multicultural workplaces, no topic assumes more importance than diversity and inclusion. A lot of workplace issues can be resolved and a happier workplace can be created by understanding these two concepts well. As they say getting from ‘0’ to ‘1’ is the most difficult part in any transformational journey. They also say a job well begun is half done. Dr Saundarya through her work in this area for several years is best-placed to author a book on this topic. She explains the basics and weaves in stories and exercises to make this book a very engaging read. Ninety-nine days is all it will take for you to be well on your way to making your workplace an inclusive one.

    Mohan Narayanaswamy
    Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director,
    BNY Mellon Technology
  • I think Dr Saundarya Rajesh is most qualified to write on the topic of D&I as she has great passion for the subject combined with the gravitas of research over many years. I also think that she has moved beyond qualifications and made a change in the society with Project PUTHRI. She has also created a huge influence in the way subliminal gender bias has been addressed in the Indian workplace and that is showing the way for organizations to put this on the top of their agenda—something that was never spoken about.

    S.V. Nathan
    CHRO, Deloitte India
  • Dr Rajesh’s book cleverly weaves D&I theory with masterful storytelling—a must-read for any professional looking to broaden one’s understanding on this pressing corporate need.

    Dr P.V. Ramana Murthy
    Executive VP and Global Head HR,
    The Indian Hotels Company Limited (Taj Hotels)
  • Diversity is a business imperative; inclusion, a behaviour, an attitude. This distinction is brought through beautifully in The 99 Day Diversity Challenge by Dr Saundarya. A must-read for all D&I enthusiasts!

    Chaitanya N. Sreenivas
    VP HR and HR Head
    India South Asia, IBM
  • Inclusion and diversity are integral to attracting and retaining the best talent in the market as well as providing exceptional service to clients in a fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. I have worked closely with Saundarya in the inclusion space for many years, and her subject matter expertise in the field is unmatched.

    Jaya Virwani
    VP Diversity and Inclusion,
    EY Global Delivery Services
  • We live in a strange, shrinking world, where distances between people are getting minimized but identities are either fading or growing sharper. Organizations being a reflection of society, diversity and inclusion become a wonderful lever to support employees play to their strengths and expand human possibilities. With her pioneering and path-breaking work in the area of diversity and inclusion, the publishers could have found no better person than Saundarya to write this book. Her experiences and insights are sure to be enlightening and inspiring for readers and with her compelling style of writing, she will be engaging and thought-provoking too.

    Gangapriya Chakraverti
    Director HR,
    GBS, Ford India
  • Organizations which practise the concept of diversity and inclusion are more creative and adaptable. They usually live longer and beat others in terms of growth and profitability. I also feel that companies having diversity and inclusion provide the right platform to foster happy, involved and closely knit teams. Having pioneered the concept of diversity and inclusion along with spearheading the work for providing second careers for women, Saundarya is the best person to write The 99 Day Diversity Challenge. Having walked the talk, there is no better person to elucidate and throw more light on diversity and inclusion.

    C.K. Ranganathan
    Chairman and Managing Director,
    CavinKare Private Limited
  • Inclusion and diversity are integral to attracting and retaining the best talent in the market as well as providing exceptional service to clients in a fast-paced and ever-changing business environment. I have worked closely with Saundarya in the inclusion space for many years, and her subject matter expertise in the field is unmatched.

    Jaya Virwani
    VP Diversity and Inclusion,
    EY Global Delivery Services
  • The cultural and cognitive diversity of our workforce enables us to make path-breaking content, ‘think big’ and explore new avenues of growth, including those that fall outside traditional industry norms. Being an inclusive organization is not a choice; it is a necessity for business success—Dr Saundarya’s book The 99 Day Diversity Challenge uses the unique and unexplored style of storytelling to illustrate this emphatically.

    N.P Singh
    CEO, Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd (Sony Entertainment)
  • I haven’t come across a book on diversity and inclusion that is so compelling with personal anecdotes, yet outcome-driven and organization focused. Dr Saundarya has taken a very non-linear approach in delivering her product with substance and character that has her signature all over it.

    Raj Raghavan
    Senior VP HR,
    IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Limited)
  • Dr Saundarya Rajesh is uniquely positioned to write this book because she has lived this journey personally and has been a teacher and collaborator to both individual women and their companies for a couple of decades. This book synthesizes her best thinking and experiences. The ability to have a handy resource as reference when you are on your company’s inclusion journey is critical. This is the book you want in your arsenal. Be sure to get your advance copy!

    Subha Barry
    President,
    Working Mother Media
  • Business case for diversity and inclusion has been well researched, established and unequivocally proven. And yet progress has not been adequate whether in public or private enterprises due to multiple reasons—cultural, historical, conscious and unconscious biases. That’s why D&I has to be championed by the CEO/head of the organization with passion, conviction and commitment. Dr Saundarya has researched and championed women’s workforce participation at multiple levels for two decades. She is internationally recognized and respected for her deep insights into theory and practice of D&I. I invariably came away with new perspectives on the subject after interacting with her and attending her sessions/workshops. I cannot think of a better person to write a book on D&I than Saundarya, and I am convinced that the book will exude her passion and in-depth understanding of the topic.

    Dr Raman Ramachandran
    Head South Asia, Chairman and Managing Director,
    BASF India Ltd
  • A simple, practical and engaging read on diversity and inclusion, presented innovatively. The stories shared are profound and relatable. Saundarya’s 99 Day Diversity Challenge has something to offer to all who wish to be part of or create a diverse and inclusive ecosystem.

    Uma Ratnam Krishnan
    Co-CEO, Barclays Global Service Centres, and Head of Finance, India, Barclays
    Global Service Centres
  • Our embracing of D&I principles truly determines how we live and work meaningfully—in this delightful collection of stories, anecdotes and life situations. Dr Rajesh drives this message home emphatically.

    Anil Chaudhry
    Zone President and Managing Director
    International Operations, Schneider Electric
  • Organizations with diverse and inclusive leadership at the top create a better world where individuals and organization not only grow, but they also thrive, get more out of their talent and therefore deliver better performance. Dr Saundarya Rajesh’s passion for creating inclusive cultures and helping women with potential achieve their career goals is unshakable.

    Mr Ramesh Iyer
    CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Limited
  • Diversity and inclusion are driving Intel’s transformation and growth as a company. Diversity invites different perspectives, experiences and ideas to our company and to the many innovative solutions we deliver to markets around the world. We believe that diverse teams, thinking and leadership styles create more opportunities for innovation, creativity and strategic thinking.

    Nivruti Rai
    Country Head, Intel India, VP,
    Data Center Group
  • By engaging the reader in a combination of riveting storytelling, roleplays, quizzes and practical tools, Dr Rajesh invites us into a CEO’s world and his/her journey to becoming an advocate for diversity and inclusion. The 99 Day Diversity Challenge is filled with real-life, practical examples of strategies and techniques that can be used to shift mindsets and drive meaningful change.

    Rohini Anand
    Senior VP Corporate Responsibility and Global Chief Diversity Officer,
    Sodexo

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