Answering the Right Questions at the Godrej Leadership Forum
Sharing my learnings and journey of running Main Bhi Muslim
Hello dear MBM listeners,
Hope you all have been well and finding ways to keep yourself nourished and joyous. I’m writing to share an exciting opportunity that brought MBM to a diverse group of audiences and hopefully led to more meaningful conversations.
In April this year, I was invited as a speaker to the annual Godrej Leadership Forum (GLF) and address the company’s senior leaders and management. One of India’s oldest companies (founded in 1897), Godrej is a leading multi-national conglomerate and the forum brings all its senior leaders and executives under one roof at Godrej One, the company’s iconic centre in Mumbai, India.
My presentation was about Main Bhi Muslim, its journey over the years and the conversations that help expand the definition of being an Indian Muslim.
GLF is an annual event that focuses on creating meaningful dialogue and interactions between the company’s leadership and a diverse set of speakers. This year, its theme was ‘Asking the Right Questions’, which formed the kernel of my presentation.
The presentation helped me return to the roots of MBM’s beginnings, with questions such as:
What kind of stereotypes are still prevalent around Muslim women in India?
Whose voices, stories and experiences are missing from the existing DEI initiatives in corporate workspaces?
What can companies like Godrej do to become more inclusive and encompassing of diverse voices, especially of those from marginalised backgrounds?
As I pondered over these questions, answers emerged through some of MBM’s conversations and stories. My presentation was a sum of these stories and learnings from them. In a 20 minute slot, I shared facets of Nazni Rizvi, Dr Ghazala Jamil and Dr Aqsa Shaikh’s lives - three exemplary women, with very different experiences, interests and belongings to their identity as Indian Muslims. These women have in their own ways investigated what does it mean to be an Indian, a Muslim and everything in between.
By asking the right questions as a journalist, scholar or community builder, they have expanded the definitions of this identity and also enabled larger conversations in their circles. It was a privilege to share MBM’s work and bring to light stories that enable people to pause, reflect and think about their roles in making our society more integrated and compassionate.
However, my proudest moments were the affirmations and stories that several Godrej leaders shared with me of their understanding of the Indian Muslim woman’s identity. Their questions helped me ponder deeper about the kind of questions I want to ask to my potential guests, the kind of stories that are yet to be told and the journeys yet to be made. (All of this and more in the upcoming MBM episodes!)
This presentation was possible thanks to a truly amazing ally and friend, Parmesh Shahani and Godrej’s team who offered their support and made GLF happen. Above all, I am indebted to MBM’s guests who have graciously and courageously offered their time and shared their stories.
More episodes lined up for this year and I’m truly excited to bring them all to you. Until then, please do check out the previous episodes and share them within your circles and communities.
With warmth and gratitude,
Producer and Host, Main Bhi Muslim
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