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CNBC-TV18 launches Season 2 of Future. Female. Forward

Future. Female. Forward – The Women’s Collective is presented by HSBC India, with HCLTech, ITC and FedEx also supporting the initiative as partners

CNBC-TV18, an English business news channel, announced the launch of “HSBC presents CNBC-TV18’s Future. Female. Forward – The Women’s Collective Season 2,” an initiative aimed at fostering gender parity and inclusivity within the workforce and beyond.

Future. Female. Forward – The Women’s Collective is presented by HSBC India, with HCLTech, ITC and FedEx also supporting the initiative as partners.

The inaugural event, held on February 10, 2024, at The Imperial Lawns in New Delhi delivered meaningful insights and highlighted the importance of gender equality and equity in driving innovation and sustainable growth.

The evening started with a musical performance by The Delhi Police’s All-Women Band, featuring 85 female officers. Setting the tone for the evening in her welcome address, Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18 said, “Our campaign aims to spark genuine discussions on women's economic empowerment and their role in the economy. We've successfully brought this conversation nationwide through 'Future. Female. Forward – The Women’s Collective' and globally at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2023 and 2024. We also aimed to promote gender balance in organisations by compiling best practices and actionable solutions from diverse leaders over the past year.”

Emphasising on the topic ‘Interaction on Championing Gender Inclusion’, Hitendra Dave, CEO of HSBC India said, “We are honoured to have partnered with CNBC-TV18 on a cause that has ignited conversations, both within HSBC and on broader platforms. Our commitment to fostering equality of opportunity, including gender parity, is paramount. Through transparent practices such as disclosing pay by gender and implementing fair recruitment, promotion, and evaluation processes, we are fostering open dialogue and tangible change. We recognize the importance of diversity not only as a social imperative but also as a strategic advantage, enabling us to better serve our diverse customer base”. He added, “Achieving 100% equality of opportunity is our ultimate goal, ensuring that biases are eliminated and all individuals are given fair consideration in every aspect of our operations”. Followed by the same, the evening witnessed the unveiling of the unique Future. Female. Forward Sustainable-First Logo.

A special discussion on the topic of ‘India's Alliance for Global Good’ featuring Smriti Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, in conversation with Bhan, said, “Today women stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men in every field. Currently, 30 crores of Mudra loans are availed exclusively by women. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 80% of the workforce producing PPE suits comprised women, showcasing their resilience and dedication. Additionally, 6 million frontline workers, predominantly women, tirelessly provided door-to-door medical services. This paradigm shift reflects India's commitment to its promises. As a nation, we serve as a unifying force and can bridge divides in a fragmented world. India also spearheaded discussions on gender parity within the G20, leading to the establishment of a dedicated working group. We are optimistic that India's commitment to global welfare will translate into meaningful action”.

In a fireside chat with Bhan, Jenny Johnson, CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments, said, “I was reminded of something that my daughter once said. I asked a question to my 5 kids, whether they want to join me in this business or not and one of my daughters refused and said, no mom I would rather do something that helps people. It was an enlightening moment for me because I realised we need to describe this business in a different way. Though we help people with important goals in their life all the time, we didn't describe it that way. Once we start communicating in a way that resonates with women, then we will attract more women to it.”

The evening unfolded by facilitating and celebrating some women achievers. Actor Gul Panag, Captain Shivani Kulkarni, Pilot, Harshini Kanhekar, India’s first female Firefighter, and Shaheen Malik, Founder and Director of Brave Souls, were felicitated as the unstoppable icons of Future. Female. Forward – The Women’s Collective.

Col. Bindu Nair of the Indian Army, Ravneet Kaur, Chairperson of the Competition Commission of India, Lieutenant Commander Prerana Deosthalee, of Indian Navy, Suman Nalva, DSP, PRO, Delhi Police and Ajaita Shah, Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets were felicitated as inspiring women achievers.

Furthermore, Annapurni Subramaniam, Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Upasna Taku, Co-Founder and COO of MobiKwik, Neha Kirpal, Social Entrepreneur, Arati Devi, India's youngest elected sarpanch from Dhunkapada Gram Panchayat in Ganjam district, Odisha and Nigar Shaji Indian Aerospace Engineer, ISRO were recognized as women pioneers.

Deosthalee, from the Indian Navy, said, “I am thankful to the Navy for entrusting me with the command of a Naval warship. It reflects their belief in my capabilities, and I am grateful for that. This achievement reaffirms the importance of believing in oneself, and I am pleased that my perseverance through life's ups and downs has paid off. I am genuinely happy and proud."

Kanhekar, India's first female firefighter, expressed, “Unfortunately, my attempts to join the Indian Air Force and subsequently the Indian Army were unsuccessful. Despite these setbacks, I remained resilient and pursued other avenues. A friend suggested I explore the National Fire Service College to fulfill my desire to wear a uniform. Unaware that the college had no female students, I applied, nonetheless. Upon visiting the college with my father, an individual remarked that ‘this college is not made for you, please go somewhere else’. However, determined to prove them wrong, I successfully passed the entrance exam and enrolled as the sole female student among a cohort of 2000 men.”

The evening featured a fireside chat with Johnson moderated by Bhan, where she discussed her career, journey, and her transition to becoming a CEO. Following that, Ravneet Kaur, Chairperson of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), delivered a TED-style talk.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCLTech, said, "I believe that as we strive for inclusivity across genders, especially by enhancing female representation in the future, it's vital to evaluate how our initiatives actively contribute to a cultural transformation within our organisation and institution. This shift is pivotal in preparing us to embrace diversity more effectively, which positively impacts every aspect of our endeavours."

Additionally, Amitabh Kant, Former CEO of NITI Aayog, said, “I find it remarkable that women in India have increasingly taken active roles in various government initiatives, including housing, Mudra loans, and the digital movement. India's prioritisation of women's development as a key agenda at the G20 summit represents a significant milestone for the nation.”

This was followed by the third and final session with the leaders on “Bridging the Gender Gap: Strategies for Equality and Inclusion”. The panellists for the same were Ravi Kumar, CEO of Cognizant; Anil Chadha, Divisional Chief Executive of ITC Hotels; Hitendra Dave, CEO of HSBC India; Kami Viswanathan, Senior Vice President - Middle East Indian Subcontinent and Africa Operations FedEx; Herve Delphin, EU Ambassador of India.

Talking about Gender Parity at work, Viswanathan said, “It is essential to offer mentorship and sponsorship to facilitate women's progression into senior leadership positions. Both male and female leaders need to actively support and invest in the potential of women. Our initiatives prioritise mentorship and hands-on experiences to elevate the representation of women in senior management roles. Moreover, featuring senior female leaders as role models illustrates to our teams that such accomplishments are achievable. These efforts reflect our continuous commitment to advancing gender diversity and equality.”

Adding to that Chadha said, “At ITC, diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount priorities, underscored by robust policies implemented across all divisions, each dedicated to significant efforts in advancing these areas.”

Moving forward, Ghazal Alagh, Co-Founder, Honasa Consumer; Hepzibha Pathak, Global Brand Director at Ogilvy and Mather, Anju Srivastava, Founder of Wingreens, and Harmilan Bains, Athlete were also felicitated at the event for their inspiring contributions.

The evening wrapped up with a closing performance by Vanika Sangtani, Storyteller and Poet.

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