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#ProgressiveWomen: It is about the brain muscle and the idea, always

This Women’s Day, conversations are moving beyond just equality for women. As reflected in the theme for International Women’s Day 2019 – #BalanceForBetter – the focus is on providing for a society where there are equal opportunities and all round development.

Adgully has some amazing women professionals from the field of advertising and marketing this Women’s Day as part of our Twitter Panels on #ProgressiveWomen. You can catch the Twitter Panel today between 3-4 P.M by following us @adgully.

Day 1 of the discussions today include:

  • Moderator: Anindita Sarkar, Head of Communications, Dentsu Aegis Network India
  • Neeti Nayak, Director of Communications, Publicis Groupe India
  • Pritha Mitra Dasgupta, Director - Integrated Communications, IPG Mediabrands
  • Priyanka Mehra, Director - Marketing and Communications, Havas Group India
  • Arushi G Phillips, Sr Manager - Corporate Communications, FCB Ulka

For our panelists, the scope of Women’s Day has expanded beyond just women empowerment and equality to include gender diversity. As expressed by Anindita Sarkar, Head of Communications, Dentsu Aegis Network India, “Whether it is a man, a woman or an LGBTQI, a child, a teenager or an elderly – as long as all of us are treated as equals and respected for who we are, each day is a celebration in itself. And maybe, that’s why I love my industry so much. Because here, it is not about the gender. Here, it is about the brain muscle, it is about the ‘idea’. Always!”

Looking back at the inception of this momentous day, Neeti Nayak, Director - Communications, Publicis Communications, India, pointed out how Women’s Day was born over a century ago. “It is said that the day was born because of an incident that happened in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through NY City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. That was in 1908. Let’s fast-forward to 110 years, we have solved one issue – voting rights, shorter hours. This is something that everyone wants and something that the world will move towards automatically, owing to the conversations around AI and 4-day work weeks.”

Nayak also lamented the fact that there was one issue that hadn’t been solved yet – providing better pay. “110 years on and we are still talking about better/ equal pay,” she said.

For Nayak, Women’s Day acted as a great reminder of all the disparities that we witness, be it in society or at work. “It’s time to stop talking and start acting towards solutions,” she emphatically stated.

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta, Director - Integrated Communications, IPG Mediabrands, noted here that there indeed has been a huge shift in corporate India over the last decade to enable women to join and stay in the workforce. Most leading companies today realise that gender balance and women empowerment directly impact economic growth that plays a crucial role in nation building. Most companies are focused on creating inclusive, female forward environment as they realise that inclusion of women is like tapping into a huge untapped talent pool.

She further said, “Gender diversity has become a priority for every leading company. Over the year, companies have taken several constructive steps towards attracting, retaining and empowering women to leadership position.”

Agreeing with Dasgupta, Priyanka Mehra, Director - Marketing and Communications, Havas Group India, said, “There seems to be an earnest attempt or the beginning of propagating greater diversity within the industry, which is also a direct result of the diversity movement globally. Given that women professionals bring in a different perspective and a collaborative style of working on the whole, over the last decade there has been a change in the overall mindset and an active realisation of the gap in the number of women leaders between mid-level and top leadership positions, and corporate organisations (more common in MNC’s in India at this point in time) across the board are implementing policies, which make it more conducive to women to take on senior leadership and management positions.”

Dasgupta, too, emphasised on how organisations are also focused on providing training and honing skills to encourage women to be better leaders. Needless to say, every corporate has become focused on creating a safe environment for its employees, especially for women, where employees feel confident to report sexual discrimination or harassment without any fear. “We can definitely say that all this has led to the rise in number of women joining and staying in the workforce. IPG Mediabrands, which was formed only in 2012, is India’s only advertising network which has 50 per cent women in its top management, with two strong women leaders leading two of its main brands – Lodestar UM and Initiative. And this is just the beginning,” Dasgupta affirmed.

According to Nayak, the marketing communications industry is ahead in terms of gender parity as compared to other industries. She said, “We are seeing more women in leadership roles today, and many agencies have a good gender balance ratio.” At the same time, she also felt that it was not enough. “I’m thankful that conversations around discrimination, bias, equality and equity, etc., are coming to the forefront today, these conversations were not there 10 years ago. And it is because we are having these conversations that we are more aware and conscious of our decisions. We need to understand what is the cause of this problem, why are there so few women in leadership positions, and try and solve those issues by acting on it, and setting an example for the rest of the industry to follow.”

Nayak concluded with an important thought, “In the near future, it would be great to move from dedicating Women’s Day to building awareness around parity to celebrating organisations that have put equality at its core, and ensured that men and women have progressed equally.”

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