Celebrating the Women of Compass: Ritu Dewan
This October, Ritu Dewan will celebrate a true milestone. It will mark her 10-year anniversary with Compass Group. Ritu loves music, Bollywood being her favorite, and says her absolute pleasure is decorating/redecorating her home because it’s fun and therapeutic. She shares her thoughts on women and diversity in the workplace for International Women’s Day. Read her story below.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is great to celebrate the success and progression of women, but it should not be a one and done simply for optics. I believe women bring balance and unique styles of thinking to the workplace and make the business stronger. In the spirit of gender equality, we need to do our part to bridge the gap and give women equal opportunities that allow them to flourish and bring their best to the workplace.
Who are some women who have inspired you?
My mom – 100%. There’s no question about it. My mom’s 85-plus now and continues to inspire me while being my best friend. I totally get my strength from her and she also taught me about the importance of culture, community and giving back. Professionally, I admire Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. She has been a great source of inspiration and courage.
What has influenced your commitment to diversity as a leader?
I believe it started with my upbringing. I was born in New Delhi, India, and part of a progressive family in an otherwise conservative culture. If you know anything about the Indian social fabric, it’s that we are very family-oriented people. Extended family and friends, neighborhood and the community are all very important to us, and that allowed me to embrace others beyond my core family.
From a very young age, I started travelling and have seen a fair amount of the world. I was always fascinated by local cultures, cuisines and connected with people from all over. I think all that played hugely in shaping my views and I naturally became open to all kinds of backgrounds and differences. There is no doubt that all that exposure has enriched me as an individual.
The theme of International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge.” How do you choose to challenge women to be their best selves?
I am very committed when it comes to building and nurturing my teams; but in order to grow, we need to challenge each other. I want people to feel like they can have open and honest conversations. It’s perfectly fine to be vulnerable; real interaction allows us to learn each other’s point of view.
I was fortunate enough to be able to rise through the ranks in the industry, so now I want to bring other people up along with me. Not too many women are in senior roles in our industry, although that is starting to change, and I want to do my part to elevate as many woman and celebrate their achievements. I challenge my peers to do the same.
What do you want your legacy at Compass to be?
I really want to build a community of leaders and make a difference in professional lives. I want people to move to next levels in their development. I am constantly asking myself, ‘How do I expose my teams to do more? How can I stretch them? How can I give them a bigger opportunity with clients and strategic projects?’ Compass provides me the platform to create a wider impact and everyone could use an advocate or a mentor along the way to unleash their potential and challenge them to new heights. The organization has been great to me and I want to do my part to help everyone I can in the workplace achieve their next level of opportunity, growth and development.