To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, our Gender, Parenting and Carers focus group of the Inclusion Committee prepared a series of video and written interviews with high-profile, inspirational women from business, law and higher education. Each talked about their career, the challenges they have faced and what they still want to achieve.
In an interview with Asha Vekaria, a senior clinical case manager at NHS Resolution, and a social media co-ordinator at Association of Asian Women Lawyers, she asks us to challenge ourselves and to speak up.
Is your career success the result of meticulous planning or a series of fortunate adventures?
This is a tough question. I would like to say it was meticulous planning because I love planning and lists but looking back, I’d say it was a mixture of planning, hard work, and luck – both good and bad. From having to go through clearing with AAD in my A’ levels (serves me right for choosing German), to ending up on a 4 year degree which included 2 work placements and securing a Training Contract with the firm I did the 2nd placement with.
What has been your personal career highlight, so far?
This would have to be being promoted after having my first child. When I first started, I was told (by a male Partner) you should achieve promotion before having a child because it’s impossible afterwards!
Why does diversity matter?
Diversity goes hand in hand with inclusion and representation. People, and especially children, need to see themselves reflected in positions of power, in the jobs they want, in the careers that they want to succeed in. They need to see it with their own eyes to believe it is possible.
Have you seen attitudes change towards women in the profession in the span of your career? In what way?
Yes….but I’m not sure it’s enough. Unconscious bias exists and people need to be aware it exists in order to challenge it. Many organisations say they have achieved diversity and they parade examples of women who have achieved success in those terms, but they are usually from the same backgrounds, of the same race etc. Diversity is not just men and women.
What would you still like to achieve?
I’d like my work with AAWL to have a real impact. The statistics show equality for women from ethnic backgrounds is still a very long way off. AAWL seeks to bring these issues to the fore and allow Asian Women especially, to challenge the decision-makers and situations.
What would you advise your 18 year old self to choose to challenge?
Challenge yourself. Speak up. Your opinion matters. You bring yourself and your experiences to every situation and that’s why what you have to say is important. What you bring to a conversation/situation is unique.
Is there one key thing that needs to be challenged to achieve inclusion/equity/gender parity in the profession?
Representation matters. As I say, this isn’t just a conversation about men and women. Our profession is so much more than this. We need all people at all levels to bring their experiences and therefore their understanding and empathy to each situation.
What songs do you have on rotation?
My playlist spans the 70, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s and 20s. I like to have it on shuffle. You may see me standing on the tube tapping my toes, nodding my head or lip syncing along.
What are you reading right now?
Sarah Pinborough, “Dead to Her”. I can’t wait to get back on the tube just to have my reading time back. Working full time, home schooling, and a global pandemic have resulted in me losing my reading time!
Who would you invite to the cookout?
My parents. They taught me I can be whatever I want to be. They pushed and supported me in equal measure. I owe them my career. They taught me that an Indian girl from Wembley can achieve whatever she sets her mind to.
Diversity and inclusion at Stewarts
The principles of inclusion, equal opportunity and diversity are important to us. We aim to create an inclusive culture that respects people’s differences and gives everyone a chance to excel at what they do. We believe that this is enhanced by embracing our staff’s different backgrounds and personalities, and creating a positive working environment.
You can find further information regarding diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities at Stewarts here.