Representation of women is only at the entry-level: Kavita Lakhani

"There are many bright women around us who have smashed the proverbial glass ceiling to create an identity for themselves. Their hard work, perseverance, and ability to stay afloat despite unfavourable circumstances has made all the difference. However, the fight continues," says Kavita Lakhani, Executive Director at GolinOpinion and President of Women's Indian Chamber Of Commerce And Industry's (WICCI) PR & Digital Marketing Council. Kavita Lakhani. In this podcast with Mrighashira, she discusses with Radha Radhakrishnan about WICCI's new Council's charter and the challenges women face in the PR and Digital marketing sector. Listen to the podcast here.

Q: What prompted you to think of a PR & Digital Marketing Council under WICCI?

WICCI is a unique body. It is for the women and by the woman. It is the only body which focuses on women empowerment and women enablement. There are 150 sectors represented today in WICCI. Communications industry was not represented, and the nature of the communications industry, the importance and the way it is growing today, it made logical sense for this sector to have a representation. I thought that was important. We all know that our industry has a broad representation of women. However, that representation of women is only at the entry-level. As on goes up the ranks, women in leadership becomes minuscule. It drops from around 35% to 3% in boardrooms. It prompted me to think about what is it that we can do to give back to our industry, given the context that, the communications industry is playing such an essential role in the economy today?

We are also an industry with a significant percentage of the younger population. Many are under 35 years of age. These are people who come with a lot of enthusiasm, energy, drive, and ideas. They can experiment, think outside the box and experiment outside the box. How do we get them to contribute to the objective of encouraging more women to move to leadership positions? How do we make this whole effort into an inclusive one? WICCI PR & Digital Marketing Council intends to ensure we encourage, mentor aspiring leaders. Show them the path, and also upskill them for them to participate and become leaders. 

Q: So, what are some of the themes and activities you are likely to take up?

There are four main activities or mandates for the Council. One is ensuring that we have a good number of networking events where women can participate. In most cases, networking events are paid events. Second, most women in our sector don't have easy access to mentorship, and they need this. So, having mentoring programs is essential. The third area is upskilling. We are actively going in that direction to equip and enable women, particularly those who are returning after a break. The fourth area is client roundtables, to talk about best practices within this industry and how women can reach the top and how they can progress in their career. 

Q: There are several programs, initiatives for women including in our sector, for example. How is WICCI differentiating itself?

The kind of leaders that you get on a specific platform to run a mentoring program, or do a networking event for instance, which has certain stature of leaders, and the quality of content is what differentiates one from another. Also, how are you making these programmes accessible is very important. I feel there is space for all the bodies to do whatever is their charter. There is much talent over there that's looking for guidance, looking for direction and looking to move up. And the very fact that all these bodies have existed and yet the number of women progressing to leadership positions are dismal indicates that there is room for doing a lot more. 



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