Barclays HeForShe Ambassador Srishti Warman on Promoting Gender Equality in India
On International Women’s Day, we talk to Barclays Business Analyst Srishti Warman about her work promoting gender equality in India – and how her commitment to “making a difference” began as a child.
“It’s something I’ve always been used to, because that’s how my parents brought me up and that’s how the culture is in our family. Throughout my childhood and college years, my parents and I would step out and donate blankets to people living on the streets in the winter. We always felt that we should give to society, and having such people around gave an emphasis that I should never stop doing it even though I left my home town, and I should take every opportunity I can to make a difference, no matter how small or big it is.”
Srishti Warman has carried her philosophy of citizenship across India, from her hometown of Chandigarh to her job as a Business Analyst for Barclays in Pune. By day, she works on Barclays’ Big Data product, SmartBusiness Insights, helping small and medium businesses in the UK to make better decisions by comparing metrics and performance against their competitors. But alongside this job, Srishti is a Community Ambassador for Barclays and a Gender Equality Champion with the United Nations’ HeForShe campaign.
“I started working on gender equality with the WiN gender network in Barclays,” says Srishti, “and I had some ideas of my own of how we could make a difference at work. I was then chosen to be the HeForShe lead for Pune, working with others to make sure we promote gender equality at work.”
Barclays was the first bank in the world to sign up for the HeForShe agenda, committing to increasing the representation of women in senior leadership, reaching women around the world with financial inclusion programmes, and to “embed gender equality in the culture, processes and policies of Barclays”.
Warman says: “Our WiN gender network is all about ‘Attract, Develop, Retain’. We look to attract the right female talent, develop them, and retain them. I also work with Emerge, which is another network more focused on honing the graduates we bring on board every year, where we’ve developed a reverse mentoring programme linking senior managers up with millennials.”
This programme is amplifying some of the changes in gender equality that are taking place throughout India, as the older generation hear from their colleagues who “don’t have any inhibitions and have a different lens for looking at things”. Srishti says: “When I look around at my parents’ generation, there really were only male bosses and CEOs. People are also asking why don’t we see women in equal numbers around us at work as we do in schools? But the gap is being reduced.”
In the community, Srishti has a particular interest in schemes that give opportunities for disadvantaged young women to be sponsored through education. As a Barclays Community Ambassador, she has worked with the Lila Poonawalla Foundation to develop computer literacy skills in young women from underprivileged backgrounds. In 2017, Srishti also organised a fundraising trek through the Himalayas, to the glacier source of the River Ganges, in support of another programme that “educates the women of Pune and thereby makes them self-reliant”. A team of 50 people from India and the UK participated in the trek, which in Srishti’s words “took a lot of organising – but the cause was very powerful. We raised the equivalent of over £20,000, and we’re getting requests to do something on an even grander scale this year.”
Srishti joined Barclays as a graduate in the Future Leaders Development Programme. She says she “started her citizenship journey with Barclays with simple fundraising – either through contributing or participating in events such as sponsored runs. I moved to organising events, and the first event I organised was for destitute children – supporting low-cost fostering and education for abandoned kids under six.
“Then, in 2016, there was a terrible drought in our state – Maharashtra – and every day you would see news of farmers committing suicide because there were no rains and their crops were destroyed. I created a fundraiser to create a solution that could prevent the effects of the drought next time and give free access to water.”
“My colleagues have supported me throughout all the events I’ve been involved with,” says Srishti. “Barclays has inspired them all to devote some time to social responsibility and citizenship.” If some of the problems encountered in India seem intractable, Srishti shows that the next generation are endeavouring, through work and volunteering, to make a positive difference. She says simply: “My pride stems from helping India develop its human potential.”