Diversity & Inclusion
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Riya Mukherjee

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

Riya Mukherjee
Riya has lived in three countries, has a love for all furry creatures, and is a proud dog mum, she fell in love with books and learning when her mother took her to the bookshop, she worked in each school holiday.
“Dialogues around what is keeping women from entering these industries, identifying what can be done, and creating solutions to support and encourage change.” — Riya Mukherjee

Tell us a little about yourself?

I have lived in three countries, have a love for all furry creatures, and I am a proud dog mum to my Swiss Shepard Odin. I fell in love with books and learning when my mother took me to the bookshop she worked in every school holiday. I would entertain myself by browsing each of the shelves and spend hours in the staff room devouring all the reading copies that were on offer. I even remember being allowed to stay home from school because I had to finish reading the latest Harry Potter books.

Growing up I had always wanted to understand and help people; this led me to study medical radiations and then psychology. Through my academic journey, I took an interest in Organisational Psychology because I recognised how impactful the relationship between an individual’s professional and personal lives are. I started my professional career as a recruitment consultant and have now become an executive assistant to the wonderful CEO Ms Kris Grant at the ASPL Group.

Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?

Hands down the most prominent woman would be my mother, who has had a life that Hollywood would love a script from. Her strength and courage inspire me to no end, she is constantly open to learning and strives to nurture the people around her effortlessly. There is so much gratitude I feel for her because we both grow, learn, and support each other every day.

The other woman that comes to mind is Esther Perel, who is a therapist, author, speaker, and podcaster. She is an expert on human relationships and listening to her talks and interviews speaks to my passion for psychology and drive to understand myself deeply as well as the people around me. To quote Esther: “The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. I believe that human connection has transformative power in all aspects of our lives.” – E.P.

Helena Morrissey the author and A Good Time to Be a Girl: A Guide to Thriving at Work & Living Well, this book helped me articulate thoughts and exposed me to so many great ideas. Helena draws on her experience as a City CEO, mother of nine, and founder of the influential 30% Club which campaigns for gender-balanced UK company boards, her manifesto for new ways of working, living, loving, and raising families is for everyone, not just women.

And finally (but not the last by any means) on my list, Whitney Cummings a stand-up comedian, actress, producer, writer, director, and podcaster. She is the most authentic person when it comes to the act of women empowering women. Listening to her podcast (Good for you), I realised how female relationships can sometimes be emotionally combative and competitive. She shared the idea of aspirational competition which resonated with me. The idea that competition shouldn’t be at the expense of others, it can come from a place of abundance. That you can be the best and know there is space for others at the top, to support, encourage and grow together.

Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough women on the supreme court? And I say, ‘When there are nine.’ People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

This is why I think it is important to have women in leadership roles, women have been underrepresented in areas of leadership. It’s important to continue to invite and provide opportunities for women to step into these roles as it brings valuable insights and ideas to the table.

What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?

I am a strong believer in creating dialogue and opportunities. Dialogues around what is keeping women from entering these industries, identifying what can be done, and creating solutions to support and encourage lasting change.

What further steps can be implemented to encourage women supporting women?

The things that I strive to do myself is to come to this space with authenticity, collaboration, and action. What I mean is that I authentically want to see people achieve their goals and celebrate their successes, there is no need or feeling of competition or jealousy. To empower comes from a place of abundance and support. I would love to see more women collaborate and become mentors to share their knowledge and build up people around them. There are unique challenges that women face in the world; sharing knowledge and guidance can be so transformational. Finally, to put these ideas and thoughts into action, creating tangible and lasting change.

How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?

Personally, being born in India, growing up in New Zealand, and then moving once more to Australia I can safely say that more needs to be done when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

There are still attitudes, ideas, and behaviours that occur which are deeply questionable and overall harmful. I have seen people feel less than because of cultural differences and have had to overcome prejudice myself.

I do acknowledge that there are spaces that have done amazing work to promote and actively participate in increasing diversity and inclusion. I would like to see more of an emphasis on empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin.

When organisations and people in positions of power participate in educating themselves and implementing practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted, welcomed, and equally treated, it can encourage many others to take part and I would personally like to see happen more.

Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?

This is a great initiative, and I would like more people to continue to contribute and share their thoughts.


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