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“Organisations are accountable for improving the opportunities for women”

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 and Communications 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. 

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Dr Somdutta Singh, Founder & CEO of Assiduus Global, is a successful serial entrepreneur, with Assiduus being her third venture. She has previously helmed ventures like Unspun Group, an AdTech company, and IRA - House of Designers, a crowdsourced fashion label on e-commerce and retail, which have been successfully acquired. 

A recipient of several awards and accolades, Dr Somdutta Singh has been listed as one of Fortune India’s 50 Most Powerful Women and is also a member of the coveted invitation-only Forbes Business Council. Dr Singh has served as the youngest and only woman Vice-Chairperson of the NASSCOM Product Council and has also been the first woman of Indian origin on the Board of Philip Kotler’s Kotler Impact. 

In conversation with Adgully, Founder & CEO of Assiduus Global, speaks about unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, the role and scope of women leaders in the current market ecosystem, her mantras for maintaining a successful work-life balance, gender sensitivity terms which are unspoken, and more. 

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the current market ecosystem?

The pandemic’s unprecedented challenges might have hindered our progress toward gender parity in leadership positions. But it also shifted focus on broader corporate responsibility, incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion components into their entire objectives, plans, and policies. 

  • Recruiting is not a passive activity or a technique for achieving greater gender diversity. A gender-balanced field of candidates should be a goal for leaders. They should seek to uncover and eliminate systematic prejudice in conventional hiring procedures at the organisational level.
  • Organisations are accountable for improving the opportunities and policies for women. However, in order to move forward and break free from the habits holding them back, women also require help.

When women hold leadership positions, they bring a unique set of abilities, creative viewpoints, and, most crucially, structural and cultural distinctions that motivate practical solutions. A new feeling of awareness will emerge as a result of bringing a creative viewpoint, helping to discover the subtler aspects that the unaided sight could miss. 

What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?

Every adversity comes with an opportunity. In 2020, when the world was, and still is, grappling under the pandemic, we were all presented with an intensifying set of challenges. I had two options: give into the crisis or rise like a phoenix from the ashes. If I had to survive, I knew I had to drive through. I became the first woman entrepreneur to launch a Make in India COVID 19 protection merchandise line that relentlessly catered to hundreds of hospitals, Government agencies, NGOs and frontline warriors pan India. 

What is your mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance in the new normal? According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?

The importance of striking the right balance between work and life goes beyond the immediate, individual achievement. If there is a suitably encouraging environment that enables us to productively channel energies from either side, individual efforts add up to holistic systemic impact. As demonstrated by successful examples from Ireland to Chile, the right workforces have the power of moving economies to new stages of development and helping societies become more participatory and all-encompassing and it all starts with a workforce that is contented, one that is gratified. 

Balance is subjective and variable. My balance will be different from yours. You are not trying to fit your life into mine and vice versa. Introspect – What is your precedence? Are you physically and mentally healthy in the situation you are in? Are you working too much? The answers you give yourself will alter every day, every moment. It will never be constant, thus find your own balance. 

What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?

  • You can learn something from everyone.
  • Leaders have diverse roles.
  • Awareness of oneself, in terms of mental and physical wellbeing is crucial.
  • Communicate.
  • Be present.

Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times? 

Propelling transformation to certify better representation of women is particularly important because women, yes, they are gradually taking upon the wheels of change and driving the global economy, sadly not spoken about enough. For us to see suitable change there is an immediate call for discovering, tackling and squashing prejudices that are preventing progression and then begin appraise work based on women’s intrinsic worth and not their sex, colour or race.

There is also the pressing need to devise policies and smash organizations that thwart the progression of women or merely just proffer encouragement and support to help each person to survive. Gender equality cannot exist if just white women march for a cause, if only black women fight for representation, if only Asian women stand up against sexual violence.

Diversity is important and gender equity and social justice go hand-in-hand - making sure everyone has a seat at the table. I am sure, believers of strong inclusive feminism progress will agree with me on this that calling attention to atrocities faced by just one superior, privileged group of women cannot be called fighting for a cause, a social movement. 

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