“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back!” Lean In DFW – Mid Cities and the neighboring communities are always ready to support and help each other grow personally and professionally. There have been meetings, gatherings, and events from time to time where females from different backgrounds come together to share their stories and discuss solutions to mutual concerns.
Manu Nanda Shahi is one of the flagbearers in the town who has helped many women discover their strength and feel empowered.
“If you look at history, women have always been very powerful; they’ve been extremely successful on many fronts while multi-tasking. It’s time to pull back the power,” she says. “This generation of ours is being watched very closely by the younger generation. The new generation is not gender-biased; so we have to set good examples for them.”
Manu is an educator by profession. She’s the founder and managing director of Homework In a Cafe, a platform that guides students with academic enrichment & study skills in collaboration with local schools. Besides balancing up the responsibilities at home and business efficiently, she spends a lot of time as a regional leader for Lean In DFW – Mid Cities. Lean In works in the areas of leadership, advancement, & inclusion for women in the workplace.
“When a woman decides to go to work, she has to fulfill many roles even before reaching work. I am not underestimating the roles of males, but women have lots on their plate,” she mentioned. “The road for women to go to work is still under construction.”
The current setup for women in the workplace also has different challenges. Gender bias, color bias, payscale bias, etc., are the issues women still have to deal with. Lean In DFW – Mid Cities aims to provide community women with enough tools to support their journey of empowerment. ReTurnship is one of the remarkable initiatives Lean In DFW has taken. In 2019, Manu realized a lot of women reached out in regards to starting a business, going back to work, decision making on those lines, etc. She then conceptualized the idea of ReTurnship and organized the first event the same year.
“Many women lost their jobs due to the pandemic. They decided to stay at home with their families due to daycare and other expenses. When we are trying to come back to normal, it is the right time to motivate women to take charge,” she spoke of the second ReTurnship event that recently happened. “Also, our neighborhoods have a lot of empty nesters, so it’s good for women to resume work to keep themselves physically, mentally, and financially healthy.”
At ReTurnship 2022, local as well as women from different cities came together to spend quality time learning about networking and partnerships, starting a business, re-enrolling into school, using LinkedIn effectively, nailing any job interview, etc.
“I am amazed to be a part of this terrific conference. I learned – If you get a seat at a table, pull up a chair for another woman,” a participant shared.
“The stories of success and failures shared by speakers and participants strengthened the emotional bonding within the network,” Manu remarked. “I plan to continue ReTurnship as an annual professional development training workshop.”
The CEO of Lean In, Rachel Thomas sent a special message to the participants: “The pandemic has taken a real toll on women. 42% of women last year said they felt burned out of work. If you look at the job losses, women are disproportionally impacted. We make up 50% of the workforce, but we are accounted for almost 70% of lost jobs. For many women, it’s tough to job search or change careers in the face of so much uncertainty. That’s why events like ReTurnship are so important.”
Entering the workforce should be all about the potential. It’s not about being a woman or man; it’s about having the right potential. We should not be looking at the gender, but we should be looking at the human being and what they are bringing to the table, and what they’re contributing to a better world,” Manu added.