Standard Chartered Bank recently embarked on a novel nation-wide exercise to provide its middle managerial women employees a rare opportunity to access reputed women leaders across the country.

Co-ordinated and put together by AVTAR Career Creators and Standard Chartered's diversity and inclusion committee, the exercise saw Standard Chartered's women employees interact face-to-face with powerful women leaders across diverse verticals. These leaders, in unique Townhall Sessions, shared the details of their journey to the top. The bank, which is 152 years old in India and among the oldest multinational banks, organised this exercise as a part of its diversity and inclusion initiatives, aimed at increasing the number of women managers at senior positions in its workforce. Over 500 women professionals across middle and senior managerial levels at Standard Chartered Bank took part in this interesting initiative.

They put down their doubts and queries on career, work-life balance, the proverbial glass ceiling et al in writing. These were then posed to influential women leaders in the corporate world. These role models then met the women managers in unique Townhall-style interactive sessions and fielded their questions in person.

According to a study conducted by AVTAR Career Creators in 2009, women in the age group of 27and 33 often feel that the atmosphere “is very rarified” in the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy with few or no women role models whose success stories can be emulated. “Today, companies clearly wish to capitalise on the talent that women bring to leadership. But, if she doesn't see enough women around her, who are acclaimed successes and who have traversed the same path and met the same challenges — the woman employee begins to feel that there is probably something wrong either with the system or with herself,” says Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President of AVTAR, who is also a subject matter expert on gender diversity and flexi-careers.

“A healthy cross-section of our women professionals have now obtained the motivating experience of having all their queries answered in the most direct and outspoken manner by women leaders,” according to Rajashree Nambiar, General Manager (Distribution and the Diversity & Inclusion Champion), Standard Chartered India.

The Townhall-style meetings saw women professionals gather at Standard Chartered venues across Gurgaon, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai.

“Standard Chartered Bank is committed to fostering and reinforcing an organisational culture strong on diversity and inclusion in which individuals are enabled to rise to their fullest potential by leveraging their perspectives and styles of working,” says Ms. Rajashree.

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