Study after study shows that women are underrepresented at every level of the workforce and women returning to the workforce face systemic barriers. The WBW program offers a structured approach that enables women to return to the workforce after a hiatus.
Akraya’s Co-founder Sonu Ratra knows what it’s like to return from a career break. 17 years ago, she left a lucrative job to spend time raising her young daughter. But when she wanted to return to work, she was met with closed doors. Sonu believes that companies overlooked her because of the employment gap on her resume. However, persevering in her job search, she managed to find a role that allowed her to build a career for herself and be a role model for her daughter. This experience made Sonu realize there needed to be a better way.
It wasn’t until mid-2015, when Sonu and her friend Suparna Vashisht were discussing the possibility of creating a structured approach for companies to help women returnees, that the idea for Women Back to Work began to come together. Sonu had been helping women return to work through the staffing firm she helped found, Akraya, and Suparna had been mentoring women and leveraging her network to help women returnees. With Sonu and Suparna’s collective vision and passion, and Akraya’s talent acquisition experience, the Women Back to Work program was formally launched.
Powered by leading Staffing firm Akraya, the Women Back to work program empowers women returnees by introducing them to WBW partner employers who understand the value of this unique pool of talent.
Suparna is a marketing and strategy executive who worked for many years in Fortune 500 companies. She then switched to non-profit organizations consistent with her personal passion for conservation, sustainability, and social justice. A “Woman of Influence” award winner, Suparna has regularly mentored women and used her networks to help them get back on track in terms of their careers. She personally experienced many challenges 20 years ago when trying to make a fresh start in the US after a successful career in the UK and India.
A past winner of the Women of Influence Award, Enterprising Woman of the Year Award, and Northwood University’s 2015 Outstanding Business Leaders Award, Sonu is considered a highly motivated and focused thought leader in the staffing industry. She helped found leading staffing firm, Akraya, and spearheads Akraya’s social responsibility efforts. She also advocates for the empowerment of women, promoting girls in STEM industries, and driving diversity. Sonu is proud to serve on the National Board of Directors at the Institute of Economic Empowerment of Women and participates in their Peace through Business Program. She also serves on the Foundation Board of Directors at the Silicon Valley Leadership group.
As a woman who returned to the workforce herself, Deepika understands the systemic challenges around this issue and the importance of finding ways to combat them. In her role as Program Director, she is responsible for evangelizing Women Back to Work (WBW) to companies seeking an untapped, diverse talent pool as well as candidates looking to returning to the workforce.
Prior to WBW, Deepika spent 8 years with StudyLink where she helped build the organization into a leader in helping students make smart financial decisions related to financing their education. Prior to that she was Deputy Manager at media company Bennett Coleman and Company where she was in charge of brand activations for the world’s second largest business daily, The Economic Times.
Deepika has an MBA in Advertising and Communications from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management and lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two sons.