As the Director of Strategic Initiatives at FINCA International, I see firsthand how my colleagues are building lasting solutions for minority communities around the world. My name is Zeenia Irani, and my last name Irani literally means, “of Iran,” as my people were, but they fled persecution hundreds of years ago as refugees and settled in India, where we became known as the Parsis. There are about 150,000 Parsis in the world today. By that very statistic, we are a rare people, who offer a perspective that refugees can help shape a nation for the better, as demonstrated by the various contributions of Parsis to society.
As a minority woman working at FINCA International, I understand the value of having diverse perspectives to solve problems. As an organization that has dedicated its existence to fight for equality, we at FINCA have made a commitment to create a formalized Diversity, Equity and Inclusive (DEI) strategy. It is known that “a diverse workforce measurably improves decision making, problem-solving, creativity, innovation, and flexibility” (Lisa Burell, Harvard Business Review). As we advocate for meaningful change domestically as well as internationally, DEI is essential for us to advance our mission—to alleviate poverty through lasting solutions that help people build assets, create jobs and raise their standard of living.
My family has encouraged me to embrace my American heritage, while also holding true to my Parsi background of embracing key values, including standing up for those in need. That is why I have made a commitment to first and foremost listen to my colleagues at FINCA and work with the communities we serve to spearhead our DEI efforts. These efforts include combatting unconscious bias in the workplace, improving our recruitment and hiring of people of color, and implementing the professional development practices to retain top talent with diverse perspectives.
At FINCA, we are turning possibility into reality—helping save lives today and building stronger more resilient communities for tomorrow. The dedication, incredible commitment and deep understanding of social good makes me proud to be a part of FINCA. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach me directly at [email protected]