Dr Saundarya Rajesh first Indian to be conferred with the Prestigious “Winds of Change” Award


One of India’s key Diversity and Inclusion strategists and the catalyst for second careers for women, Dr Saundarya Rajesh of AVTAR receives a global recognition as the first International awardee to win “The Forum on Workplace Inclusion’s 2019 “Winds of Change” Award

Chennai, 18th January 2019: Dr Saundarya Rajesh, Social Entrepreneur, Founder – President of AVTAR Group, one of India’s leading Diversity & Inclusion expert in the country, has been conferred the prestigious “Winds of Change Award” in the individual category by The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.  In recognition of her extensive contribution towards shaping the Diversity and Inclusion agenda in the country, Dr Rajesh is the first International as well as the first non US-resident recipient of the Winds of Change award.

Commenting on the occasions, Dr. Saundarya Rajesh, Founder – President, AVTAR Group said “Being recognized by the highly respected and intentional global platform – “The Forum on Workplace Inclusion” is an absolute honor. After decades of work with different organizations and corporates, I can with confidence say that today more and more companies are positively embracing the fact that people are different and that a focus on Diversity & Inclusion is absolutely paramount for good business. The Winds of Change award is a great validation of the effort that my teammates and I have invested in changing India’s workplaces, one at a time”

For over three decades, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion set up by University of St. Thomas, has been in the forefront of diversity, equity and inclusion in the United States of America. Speaking about the Award, Mr. Steve Humerickhouse, Executive Director, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion stated that the Winds of Change Award goes to a recipient who has had significant impact within his/her area of influence. “These are people or organizations who have been doing the work over the course of many years and have been catalysts for making the changes they believe are needed”, he said.

According to Mr. Humerickhouse, The Forum’s awards committee had received many outstanding nominations over the years leading to difficult decision making. “The Awards committee unanimously chose Dr. Saundarya Rajesh for her work on empowering women and young girls in India, where the gender gap is still wide; for her influence on the entire country through her different initiatives and the humungous effort that she has put to increase women’s workforce participation across India that is a large and diverse nation”, he added.

The award will be presented to Dr. Saundarya Rajesh on 18th April at Minneapolis as part of the 31st Annual conference to be held between 16th and 18th April 2019.

About AVTAR Group: AVTAR set up in 2000, is India’s first diversity advocate & workplace inclusion expert. Renowned for its extensive work in the space of Diversity & Inclusion and more specifically, women’s workforce participation, it is the country’s largest provider of second career opportunities for women and is also the earliest to begin working on diversity audits and measurement. Lead by the visionary Dr. Saundarya Rajesh, AVTAR has ventured into areas of women’s empowerment and career creation, which are firsts to India, such as – 1) Creating a marketplace for second career women to meet potential employers, 2) Developing a comprehensive set of career enablers which companies can implement in their workspaces, 3) Spearheading original research that has provided cutting edge insights to organizations 4) Re-Skilling, Up-skilling and Counselling of women to pursue sustainable career paths and 5) Building career intentionality amongst under privileged girl children.

Over its 18 years of existence, AVTAR has helped charter Diversity & Inclusion plans for several organisations in the IT, FMCG and Financial sectors in the country.

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Article by:  Dr. Divya Kumar , Associate Manager – Research, AVTAR Group

It was a Saturday evening. The mall was gearing up with shopping enthusiasts who were eagerly awaiting for the Grand New Year Sale. I was running around to grab my best choices amidst completely charged kids who were playing hide and seek with their clan. A young mom unexpectedly was sprinting to catch hold of her kids. I was surprised and thrilled to see Nita – my career role model, when I started working for a MNC, eight years back. Currently, Nita has taken her career break for her maternity. Five years on, Nita has no clue on how to get back on aboard.

Read More » “Career Break – No Longer a Lean Phase!”

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Article by: Sarika Tainwala

Taking a break from work can be a liberating & daunting task for women.

Nearly 50 per cent of the female workforce in India stops working after three years, because of young children, ageing parents, or marriage. This roughly accounts to 10 million graduate and post-graduate women. In fact, a good number of women who want to resume work are unable to do so owing to strenuous, inflexible timings and competitive work culture.

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Article By Lakshmi Vijaykumar, Senior Research Consultant – AVTAR Group

Often women fear taking a break from their professional lives due to pressing personal reasons and consider those breaks as professional suicides. The fact is those breaks actually can be stepping stones to something new, something more.

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Career Break: A Privilege, Not a Problem

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Article by: Ms. Mamta Shanware, IT Professional turned Technical Content Developer. 

When it comes to career break, most women professionals have mixed feelings. On one end, career break seems liberating, while on the other hand, there is a fear of losing your identity and being left behind in the profession. Whatever may be the reasons for taking the career break, one thing that is of utmost importance is to accept your current situation. That is, if your situation demands a career break, you must go ahead and embrace it with open mind, without guilt or fear of future. I know it’s easier said than done, but once you accept your current situation, it helps to bring a mental shift where you take your decision as a privilege, not a problem. Once you reach that point, you get the power of converting your career break from a problem, to an opportunity. 
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Make small ‘New’ beginnings in 2019

Article By Lakshmi Vijaykumar, Senior Research Consultant – AVTAR Group

Welcome 2019. The New Year has begun and most of us are busy making mental notes of New Year resolutions – more exercise, less ice cream, more of me-time, less controversies or arguments, more book-reading, less negativity, more this, less that and so on. The fact is that all these promises get broken no longer than the second or the third week of the first month of the year. And the chances are that you did something similar in your previous years.

Read More » “Make small ‘New’ beginnings in 2019”