By: Arati Marya, Partner, Audit & Assurance, Deloitte Middle East

As per statistical data, only 20 countries have women leaders at the highest position of executive power and only 5% of fortune 500 CEO’s are women.  I believe, by paying lip service to statistical data we have overlooked a fundamental element in women’s empowerment. The true power of the matter lies in the mentoring of women, harnessing the great potential abilities they possess to achieve higher corporate aspirations.

This is what I believe I have experienced at Deloitte Middle East. I joined Deloitte Middle East in 2007 as a Manager and prior to this I worked at a public accounting firm in Washington DC. This move marked a new milestone in my life as I was getting married the same year.

As a manager at Deloitte, I recall being mentored by both male and female leaders. There are many articles on women empowerment that speak about how “Women need to sponsor women and women need to invest in women”, which I believe is true but it is also important that gender diversity and equality is a part of this mentoring process. At Deloitte, each leader I worked with had a significant role to play in my life.  A few aspired me to ensure I created a work-life balance and made it possible for me to take advantage of flex time and work from home policies, others empowered me to pursue my MBA part-time at London Business School with the study leave policy available.

When I look back I believe that the transition from a Manager to Partner at Deloitte is a true example of how exceptional mentorship allows women to achieve their goals and thereafter support the global belief of women empowerment. My path has included many professional milestones, from taking on key roles in the firm to heading countries and practices. I have always been driven professionally but in parallel, I was now a mother of two young kids.

Most women get insecure about their family responsibilities as they climb the corporate ladder. However, as I progressed in my career with the mentoring I had received, it made me more confident as a wife and as a mother. My mentors made me realize that at Deloitte, our personal and professional aspirations are meshed together, they move in parallel with the support of all the policies implemented to empower women (flex or part- working arrangement for all levels of staff, extended maternity leave for first time mothers, child’s education that includes kindergarten and most importantly the co-operation from our partners to work from home, when any exceptional situation occurs at home).

Being a leader at Deloitte was a journey of true mentorship and that is what all women need. Mentorship needs to move hand in hand with women empowerment at the workplace. I believe that Deloitte allows and supports women to not only accomplish their professional aspirations but also encourages and teaches them to be leaders in all aspects of life.

Today, as I see myself in a position to implement change within the workplace. I do feel a sense of responsibility towards this ongoing cause and deep sense to give back. The journey doesn’t end with women achieving their goals but gaining from the established system and becoming the beacon themselves, touching the lives of future aspiring incumbents who will look up to your achievements and become the future of this movement.

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