Entrepreneur and Mosaic mentor, Saira Majid, has called on women from all backgrounds to play their part in breaking down the cultural barriers in business.
Speaking at a Department of Communities and Local Government event hosted at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on International Women’s Day, Saira called on over 100 women from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds to volunteer as mentors to help young women realise their potential. Her call was echoed by senior female figures from across society, including Baroness Warsi, who also attended.
Co-organised by Mitzvah Day, the event celebrated inter-faith collaboration and networking, and provided a valuable opportunity to recruit more women into mentoring roles.
Saira is a busy Mum of three, and runs her own business as a Chartered Accountant. She has mentored in 5 schools over the last 3 years, and recently received the Mosaic Princess Badiya Mentor of the Year award. She said:
“As an accountant and a savvy business women I know my stuff, but being a Muslim woman in business is a challenge in itself. Last week I had to walk into a boardroom full of middle-aged men and, even though they didn’t say it, I know they are thinking who is this little Pakistani lady, and what can she possibly teach us?”
While Saira walked away with their business, she acknowledges it’s not always that easy to cross cultural barriers:
“I want women from different cultural and social backgrounds to help the next generation of professionals and entrepreneurs to reach their full potential – whatever their backgrounds.
“My life changed when 4 years ago I became a Mosaic Mentor – I am helping others at the same time as helping myself – getting out of my comfort zone, and growing in self confidence all the time. Mosaic’s programmes offer a fantastic platform for everyone to get involved.”
A group of students mentored through one of Mosaic’s programmes also spoke at the event about how they benefited from exposure to positive role models. They included secondary school student, Kate:
“My mentor showed me that women can and will achieve in life as long as they strive to. Working with her was a great boost to my confidence and a really good experience.”
A number of women have already signed up as Mosaic mentors as a result of the event, who will now go on to deliver meaningful benefits to young women through Mosaic’s primary and secondary school mentoring programmes.
Speaking at the event, Baroness Warsi said:
“Inspiring Change is this year’s theme for International Women’s day with a call to challenge the status quo for women’s equality.
“Events like tonight will go a long way to kick-start a new wave of mentoring across all our communities and inspire women from all backgrounds to see the real benefits of becoming a role model.”