On the occasion of Women’s Day, Medianews4u reached out to some successful women leaders from the world of advertising, broadcast, digital, brands and the universe; to understand how they overcame stereotypes at workplace.
Manika Juneja, VP Operations – West & South, WATConsult
There’s a saying, “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” As women, passion, determination & commitment, help us overcome stereotypes and deliver. Women are known as creators, and there’s nothing stopping us from creating opportunities for ourselves. We also have the onus to guide others and this is what fuels my personal passion. To break stereotypes, you need to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. With the support of family, friends, and peers, breaking the glass ceiling is a feat many can accomplish.
Poonam Prahlad, Founder & CEO of CafePopShop and Media Moments
The term stereotype is nothing but an impasse that holds us back from taking decisions. Women today are strong and have an individualistic approach to life. With time; education and exposure women have been able to set up and stand next to their male counterparts. The ability possessed by every woman is distinctive in nature which secures them a valuable position in their respective fields. Inspirational stories of other fellow women also motivate us to push beyond the boundaries and surpass all barriers to excel in our genres.
Khushboo Solanki Sharma, Founder of Zero Gravity Communications
The first rule to negate the stereotype is not to allow the existence of the same. “You are not from the agency”, “how can regional agency execute national mandate”, “agencies only from the metro are good” etc. In a creative field when there are no rules that apply to who can give great ideas, we encounter such stereotypes a lot. The best way to encounter them is by not allowing the existence or entertaining them. As an outsider, I looked advertising for brands with the business first point of view, not an award-winning campaign. Breaking a gender stereotype or industry stereotype I have personally dealt with by just doing better work one client at a time.
Rachana Lokhande, Co-CEO at Kinetic India
While the media industry is male-dominated, India does have a few women in leadership positions. However, we need a lot more, and to get there we need to address certain challenges, of which the first and most important is the gender pay gap. We as an agency have strictly ensured that employees are paid according to the role, irrespective of gender.
Second is the retention of female talent. The ratio starts falling in middle management, not just because women have family responsibilities, but also due to the demands of the work culture. The late hours become a reason for people to side-line women with family responsibilities. It’s essential to change this attitude and culture. Mentoring men to understand that family responsibility has to be shared equally, as well as empowering women to make their own decisions from a young age, is absolutely imperative. And this sensitization becomes the responsibility of parents early on in their child’s development. Such mentoring will ensure less fallout and help women achieve their deliverables and career goals without stress or guilt.
Personally, the shared responsibility and support from my better half have enabled me to grow professionally, and we are actively passing on the same values to our son.
Unmisha Bhatt, Chief Strategy Officer & Director – India & MENA region, Tonic Worldwide
I firmly believe that, in 2020, an environment that has disparity shouldn’t exist and if it exists, you shouldn’t exist in that environment and move out…This is my mantra for every gender in every industry and not just advertising….Stereotype basically means that women are being seen in certain roles and responsibilities and not considered for others. Or even worst, objectified. Advertising has always been a catalyst for any positive cultural change.. A lot of agencies like ours have ensured diversity and inclusiveness in every possible way across genders, why just women?
The stereotype is a mindset and it is what we make of it…I go about doing my thing and performing…Digital advertising and Advertising as an industry has been a platform that has seen performance over genders. The world is about business results and not about who is delivering it . Even when you meet clients, the first question is “What is this going to deliver for my business and brand” ?.. If you are able to do work that delivers, gender doesn’t really matter.
Smita Murarka, Vice President, Marketing India, Duroflex Mattresses
Gender stereotyping is the most prevalent form of stereotyping that occurs in the industry. I believe a mentally strong woman with firm focus on set goals will definitely achieve success. There is no substitute for hard work and determination when it comes to climbing the ladder of progress. A nuanced re-examination of our education, attitude, and sociocultural factors will immensely help in breaking these barriers.
Shardah Uniyal – Vice President – Branding & Communication, Pulp & Fibre Business, Aditya Birla Group
Women face a lot of challenges in the corporate world which is known to be ‘male-dominated’. Various stereotypes like ‘women are backed by men’, ‘female leaders must act like men’, ‘women can’t balance work and family life’, prevail in society. However, working women of today are breaking these stereotypes by excelling in various fields across the board. Finding the leadership style that works best for you and sticking to it makes a lot of difference. Also communicating personal goals and priorities to your company helps in defining boundaries. We are individuals first in our accomplished spaces and then the role of gender comes into play. As far as we do not stereotype ourselves, we are fine. It’s important to at times ignore those who are deterrent to our growth because of their incapability to overcome their narrow-mindedness.
Tarunjeet Rattan – Managing Partner, Nucleus PR
By not being one of them, You have to work at it every single day. When you are in the PR industry and sometimes the only woman in the room during brand meetings, you have to constantly challenge pre-conceived notions. And each one of us has a responsibility to make sure the change takes place in our lives on an individual level so that collectively at some juncture we can achieve the tipping point. This also means that you are on top of your game and constantly upskilling to ensure that you are not only aware of the new developments in the field but also how it impacts and fits into the whole brand cycle. Make the change – one meeting at a time.
Leena Lele Dutta, Business Head of Sony YAY!
While I have been fortunate enough to not witness any prejudice in my tenure at various organizations that I have worked with, unfortunately, at certain places female workforce may not have that privilege. I think, the mantra to battle this out is self-belief. No amount of stereotyping can break down one’s self-belief system and an individual needs to invest in acing his/her work instead of paying heed to unwanted elements.
Prashanti Malisetti, Founder and CEO, Pixel Pictures
Stereotyping in the entertainment industry has received critical attention over several decades. The industry expects you to function in a certain manner as a woman. There are lots of rules and perceptions of a woman in this industry. Rather than fighting back I believed I should show them my worth through my work. I wanted my work to speak for itself. And I worked harder and harder each day never letting others pity me for being a woman.
I also encourage other women colleagues on set to learn and do all types of work on set. I dress, talk and work like any other common man on set because I believe showing my talent is more important than showing my possessions. There is no doubt that today, women producers, directors, actresses and others associated with the industry are redefining and changing the landscape. There is no limit to what we can accomplish by being a woman”
Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – MEISEA, South African Tourism
Globally and in India, women across industries have been increasingly raising the bar and setting aspirational standards of innovation, performance & achievements. The travel industry is one that has nurtured its women leaders over the years, empowering and encouraging them to spread their wings. The industry has been defined by some of the most commendable and inspirational female personalities who have gone against the tide of challenges through sheer dedication & determination. As with any role in life, women will continue forging the future of travel with their quiet strength and impeccable work ethic. I couldn’t be prouder of what we as a community of women leaders have achieved and it heartens me to see the camaraderie shared across the industry with women becoming strong support and motivation systems for each other.