In this International Women’s Day special episode, MBM’s Mariyam Haider is in conversation with the team at LedBy Foundation - India's first leadership incubator that focuses on the professional development of Muslim women.
Deepanjali Lahiri is the Chief Operating Officer and Fatema Chiba is the Program Manager at LedBy, which has been running training, mentoring programmes and fellowships to support young Muslim women in India enter entrepreneurial and corporate workspaces.
Deepanjali and Fatema talk about their personal and professional experiences that have shaped their understanding of the challenges that Muslim women face.
Fatema highlights what growing up as the only Muslim student felt like and how working with an educational non-profit enabled a closer understanding of the way gender, caste and class barriers impact students’ aspirations and professional outlooks.
Deepanjali shares how she had not hired a single Muslim woman candidate in her years of working across IT, retail, and FMCG sectors and the differences between multinationals and Indian companies when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.
We also discuss the current state of Muslim women participation within India’s formal and informal sectors, the challenges that structural inequities impose on women and how diverse are the career needs and visions for Muslim women in urban versus rural parts.
This MBM episode also offers a glimpse of the long journey that Indian workplaces have to make towards religious diversity, inclusion and representation across all levels of management and leadership. Finally, we talk about Seattle becoming the first American city to add caste to its anti-discrimination laws and if there is hope for similar changes within Indian workspaces in the coming times.
Notes related to the conversation
The Hiring Bias Study conducted by LedBy Foundation assessed Muslim women employment in entry-level positions. Main findings as reported in the study:
‘The net discrimination rate was 47.1%, as the Hindu woman profile (Priyanka Sharma) received 208 positive responses, while the Muslim woman profile (Habiba Ali) received half of that (103). This was evident across industries.
Recruiters were more cordial to the Hindu candidate; 41.3% of the recruiters had connected with Priyanka over phone calls, while only 12.6% spoke with Habiba over a call.
North India had a lower discrimination rate (40%) compared to jobs located in West (59%) and South India (60%).’
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