Shalini Mahtani: Changing Perceptions

By EmployDiversity

Shalini Mahtani calls herself “a brown woman” who was consistently excluded from roles, projects and even activities at the international banks and consultancies at which she worked. She was born and raised in an Indian family in Hong Kong.


Mahtani became Founder and Board Director of Community Business out of frustration with the abysmal and uneven treatment of diverse professionals at multinationals. Community Business works at the board level of multinational corporations to advise them on the business case for diversity. She is based in Hong Kong.


After obtaining her degree from the London School of Economics and working in the European and Hong Kong offices of companies, she found Asia sorely lacking in the diversity and consideration of other genders and ethnicities. She explains in a BBC Business Matters podcast that she became so enraged by the inconsistencies across regional business units that she quit her job in banking to start Community Business.


She is also the Founder of The Zubin Foundation. According to the website, she set up the Foundation to honor the life of her son Zubin, who died suddenly at the age of 3. The focus of The Zubin Foundation is on critical issues that receive little attention in Hong Kong. The Foundation works on reform of private hospitals, racial integration and empowerment of ethnic minority women and girls.


I was struck by her commitment and determination to make a difference on such an important issue on global and local scales, as well as her honesty. She talked during the BBC interview about the devastation she suffered when her son passed away, and how the loss made her want to take away the pain of others.


Sometimes we in the United States believe the fight to break up race-based monopolies on power and wealth is restricted to our country. Mahtani’s story shows that it is a global fight — and that one person can indeed make a difference in the world.