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Our Women #ChooseToChallenge

The Mahindra Group challenged conventions and brought diversity to the forefront, long before the word became a part of corporate parlance

At Mahindra, diversity is about valuing and celebrating the uniqueness of every individual by creating an environment of inclusion and empowerment. It is enabling them to Rise. The Group instituted policies and targets for gender parity — hiring women at leaderships levels, enabling policies for working mothers that gave them flexibility and work life balance and launching the Women Leaders Programme to nurture talent. These are some of the initiatives that have helped us make our workforce more gender diverse. Over the years, the number of women working at Mahindra Group has increased to 22.7% of total workforce in FY20. It is a number that is poised to grow, given the range of initiatives in place to encourage women to join its ranks.

Women who #ChooseToChallenge the norm

This year, on International Women’s Day, the ask is to #ChooseToChallenge biases and misconceptions towards creating a more inclusive world. We take this opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary women among us who chose to challenge inequalities and overcame roadblocks to realise their potential and Rise above their circumstances.
These are some inspiring stories of women at Mahindra.

Anushka Patil Auto & Farm sector

M&M’s shop floor celebrates this trail blazing engineer
Anushka has many firsts to her name. This 37-year-old MIT, Aurangabad alumni started her career as the only woman on the Mahindra Bolero body shop floor. She joined Industrial Engineering as the first woman in the department and received the Lady Engineer award from Nasik Engineering Cluster. Currently a manager at M&M’s Nashik plant, Anushka has been part of the industrial engineering team in the Thar project. Women engineers like Anusha challenge stereotypes and pave the way for others to follow their dreams in science and technology.

Sulabha Lad, Bharati Vitmal, Rutuja Palaskar and Shubhangi Gaikwad, Mahindra Logistics

The women fork-lift operators of Mahindra Logistics take pride in challenging the norm
Driving a car, let alone a forklift, wasn’t even on their bucket list. But today, these four extraordinary women move around heavy objects with robotic precision. Mahindra Logistics shaped their careers as among the few women forklift drivers in the country and supported them in achieving a steady source of income with benefits. It built their confidence to shatter stereotypical definitions of women roles but more importantly, it transformed their perception about their own limitations and capabilities!

K. Suguna, Mahindra World

A 38-year-old visually challenged dreamer fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher
Selling candies at the railway station was a way of life for visually challenged K. Suguna and her husband. They would barely earn INR 200 per day. But there was more to Suguna than a disability – she was a graduate with a BA in Tamil and a BEd degree to boot. Life took a turn for better when Matram Foundation introduced her to Nirmala Krishnan, Principal of Mahindra World School. Bowled over by Suguna’s confidence, Nirmala recruited her as a Tamil teacher for the junior school. Today, Suguna has a fulfilling career that promises a better future for her and her two children. Now, if self-confidence isn’t the key to break shackles, what is?

Tejaswi Podapati, Tech Mahindra

Cleaning up her city took 3 years and a lot of work, but it worked wonders
When 26-year-old Tech Mahindraite Tejaswi realised that her city Ongole was the third most backward city in (undivided) Andhra Pradesh, she decided that the tag of dirty and filthy city was unacceptable. In 2015, she started Bhoomi Foundation with 10 volunteers to propagate the Swachh Bharat mission. For three years, the band of volunteers cleaned and beautified 120 unclean spots in the city. Today, Ongole is a poster-free zone and ranked 4th in zonal category under the prestigious Swachh Survekshan Awards. Bhoomi Foundation now has 3,000 volunteers, has won three Swatcha Andhra Awards and Tejaswi’s efforts have been recognised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself!

Mahindra’s diversity vision is not limited to employees, but we enable our communities to Rise, through various programs and initiatives. Here are some of the moving stories from the extended Mahindra Universe.

Namrata Govilkar, Mahindra Finance Skilling Initiative

This 25-year-old mechanic from Kolhapur is shattering patriarchy, one vehicle at a time
When life gives you a wrench, you repair a car. And that’s exactly what Namrata Govilkar chose as a career. Widowed at a young age, the responsibility of making ends meet suddenly fell on her shoulders. An NGO worker introduced her to skilling initiatives promoted by the Mahindra Group and Namrata jumped at the opportunity. In 2019, she enrolled in the 2nd batch of Mahindra Finance-supported training for Auto Mechanics. She started as a trainee technician at Shivganga Suzuki, Pune, earning INR 6,000. Today, Namrata has a steady source of income and her children have access to education and a better lifestyle. What’s next on her list? Owning and running her garage in Kolhapur!

Swati Gamanagatti, Mahindra Pride School

Acquiring the right skills at the right time helped her change her life prospects
After dropping out of college at 17 to provide for her family, Swati Gamanagatti had given up on career dreams. That’s when she heard about Mahindra Pride Schools, an initiative by K. C. Mahindra Education Trust that provides livelihood training to the less privileged. Swati enrolled in a 90-day course to learn skills for the hospitality sector. Her dedication paid off and she bagged a job at McDonald’s in Pune, going on to earn a record five promotions in a seven-year span. Today, Swati works at Huber & Holly, a premium ice-cream store, as an Assistant Store Manager with a monthly salary of INR 36,000 – a proud moment for her and her family!

Premlata Poonia, KC Mahindra Scholarship

From Likhmewada, Rajasthan to Indiana, USA, she pursued her dream of a global career
Premlata’s heart’s desire was to study in the best schools. But financial constraints and a language barrier proved to be major hurdles. That didn’t stop her at all. Schooled in Hindi, she learnt English on her own, aced the entrance exam for B-school IMT Ghaziabad, and funded her own studies through an education loan. Her next dream was an MBA (Social Entrepreneurship) at Michigan's prestigious Ross School of Business. This time the K. C. Mahindra Scholarship for Post Graduate Studies Abroad came to her aid. Today, Premlata is employed at Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Indiana, USA, as General Manager of the bus business. Her story is a true inspiration for youngsters dreaming of a global career.

Bonda Gangamma, Nanhi Kali Foundation

A journey of triumph over adversity
Hailing from Hukumpeta, in the predominantly tribal region of Araku Bonda Gangamma had to break a lot of barriers to attend a diploma in physical education. Enrolled from her schooling days in the Nanhi Kali Academic Support Centre she fought all odds to complete her education. Her life is a shining example of how perseverance backed by proper education can turn a life around.
Today, Gangamma is a physical education teacher in Pedagaruvu, in the Araku region of Andhra Pradesh. She has a vital role to play in the school – monitoring the diet and physical activity of her students and guiding them towards good health. Through her work she is encouraging young girls.

These are a few stories of extraordinary women among us who chose to challenge the norm to Rise above their circumstances. If you have an inspirational story to tell, share it with us at [email protected]