“Gender sensitivity is not about celebrating Women’s Day or Pride Month”
We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising & Marketing, PR & Communication industry. In the refurbished series, we seek to find out how women leaders have been managing their teams and work as well as how they have been navigating through the toughest and most challenging times brought about by the global pandemic.
Aparna Acharekar is Co-founder, Eve World. She has OTT content experience for a global audience, proven successful track record, innovator in OTT content programming with broad cross-functional operational management expertise. She has over 20 years of expertise in consumer insights, audience growth strategies and OTT content creation. In conversation with Adgully, Aparna Acharekar, Co-Founder, Eve World, speaks about how women have donned several roles during the pandemic period, women’s strength in multi-tasking, lessons that she learnt as a woman leader and more.
How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the post-pandemic world?
The pre-pandemic corporate world had set expectations of their leaders – being present in office, dedication of set time to the role, and such. However, the pandemic and the ensuing work-from-home norms gave management teams, world over, the understanding that leadership is not bound by such limitations.
As a result, this opened up avenues for women to step forward and take on roles irrespective of their personal commitments. The change in work patterns has also made companies acknowledge the importance of multi-tasking skills in teams, an inherent strength in most women.
Events of the past two years have, thus, accelerated the acceptance of women in leadership roles across companies and sectors. Our ability to draw out results in exacting situations, collaborate as a team, devise win-win solutions, empathise with colleagues and so on have found acknowledgement.
The post-pandemic world holds much promise for women in the corporate space.
The rapid transition to digital, an uncertain economic landscape, charting unknown waters, working from home – how have you been navigating during the COVID-19 times? How are you maintaining work-life balance in the new normal?
Thankfully for me, being part of the digital landscape was not an unknown territory. I got an opportunity to step into digital back in 2006 and hence, using technology in day to day work life was given. The shift to becoming an entrepreneur after 20+ years of corporate life was definitely different. I have to unlearn everyday to learn new things.
My work-life balance comes from focussing on one thing at a time and not trying to become a superwoman or a supermom. I believe in working to solve things that fall in my circle of influence than worry about things that fall in my circle of concern.
Multiple studies have shown how women leaders performed better during the COVID-19 crisis. According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?
There are several inherent abilities in women that render us better placed in crisis situations. Women leaders are more empathetic and connect better with fellow colleagues and team member.
Resilience in the face of tough situations, ability to hold the team together, working around challenges to arrive at solutions, channeling the team’s energies appropriately, are some of the abilities that have held women in good stead. And in the pandemic, when individuals have had to deal with crisis on their personal and professional lives, this style of leadership has been the panacea for many.
Harvard Business Review, in fact, conducted a survey of more than 500 leaders with similar results, and women were rated as more effective leaders than men.
What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?
The five lessons that I have learnt are:
- Never let anyone decide on your behalf
- Believe in your capabilities and be authentic
- Never stop learning and always upskill
- Be empathetic, but not vulnerable
- See the best in others and magic happens
Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?
I have often seen assumptions being made on behalf of women employees and decisions that involve their careers taken without consulting them. I think simply starting with giving all genders an equal space in our conversations is a good start.
I hate tokenism and while many big organisations only talk about gender sensitivity and inclusion, it is often less practiced. Gender sensitivity is not about celebrating ‘Women’s Day’ or Pride Month in the organisation. It is about walking the talk and putting it in action. Why can we simply not recognise talent, potential and attitude and go away from judging basis gender?