Creating Economic Opportunity for Women with Headscarves

As an HR Development Manager at DB Services [the national rail service] in Germany, Leysan Keller has witnessed firsthand the struggle of Muslim women to navigate employment opportunities while wearing headscarves. To address this, she co-founded the initiative Karriere mit Kopftuch (Career with a Headscarf) which strives to create greater economic opportunities for these women.

By attending the Harvard Kennedy School executive programs Mastering Negotiation and Leadership for the 21st Century, Keller gained the courage and skills to scale this initiative and spread it throughout Europe. These executive programs provided her with the valuable insights she needed to start building a network across Muslim and Jewish communities in Germany and gave her the tools to develop connections with the Office of Labor Issues in federal government and the major political parties.

Keller, who was born a part of the Muslim minority of Tatar in central Russia, came to Harvard Kennedy School committed to implementing change across Europe. She says her courses, and the influential professors and peers she studied with, helped her to address the topic of workplace discrimination. Her involvement in the programs initiated a significant personal transformation, empowering her to “be the change” she wanted to see.