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The W Suite | “We can easily have women leaders at top chairs of any organisation”

Diversity in the workforce has become a necessity today, and more so in the leadership positions. It can’t be denied that women bring a high level of creativity and empathy while solving problems and handling crises. Women leaders bring to the table a different level of dexterity.  

AdGully’s The W-Suite series features interactions with influential women leaders in India, who share some deep insights on what being a woman leader means in India’s business landscape, the mantras to succeed, achieving work-life balance, pay parity and much more.  

Neha Kulwal, CEO, Admitad India, is a well-known women entrepreneur. As one of the key founder members in setting up Admitad India from the date of incorporation, Kulwal has played a major role in taking the organisation to greater heights – be it in business deals for the organisation or representing the company at larger platforms. Her moves in strategic planning and decision making are well reflected in the client base and the revenues generated in India. Admitad India has a client base that includes the likes of Urban Ladder, Jack & Jones, Jockey India, House Joy, KidZania, Religare Securities, Daily Objects, Decathlon, and Cashify India, to name a few. 

Kulwal believes that businesses must be built upon team spirit and sustainability; therefore, she keeps organising in-house contests and friendly games and pushes the bond among team members to the higher level. As CEO, she also has the view of the human inside her which takes her to organise professional training to all level of employees and focus to make a talented and all rounded team to work together at Admitad. 

How would you define today’s woman leader?
In today’s era, women are career-oriented, focussed, passionate, determined and versatile in both personal and professional life. There are many advantages of having a woman in leadership role. Women can easily adapt to the constant changing environment of a workplace and can lead successful projects, motivate her employees and create positive impact in the work environment. Women are also considered good decision makers in the corporate world. 

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
Ambition, vision, diligent courage and self-confidence are some of the important qualities that women leaders in today’s corporate world should possess. The competition is tough and challenges are many. Hence, in order to keep oneself paced with this competitive environment, one should be brave and confident enough to face any kind of situation. These are some of the important traits which will help a woman to motivate, to keep going and have a successful career ahead. As an entrepreneur, one needs to go shoulder to shoulder with her team, and support and help them. 

Despite the qualifications, aptitude, and experience, why do you think we don’t see the expected number of women business leaders, especially when it comes to boardroom decision-making?
I think a major constraint is the existing social norms. Women often tend to follow their biological clock and at a certain period of time she gives up on her career for her family and kids. This is a common scenario in our country. A woman should never let go of her identity and individuality. She should pursue her profession and follow her passion. Also, all women should respect each other as it will help in the holistic growth of women as leaders and as professionals. 

Also read: The W Suite | Lack of ambition holding back women leaders: Kranti Gada

What more do Indian corporates need to do to encourage and groom women leaders?
Identifying talented women employees at an early age and nurturing them as future leaders are some of the important efforts organisations can take to create future leaders. This can be done by involving women in key strategic projects which will give them greater insights and equip them with the capability to lead the organisation. It is also important to give them greater industry exposure. At Admitad, we always consider talent and skills above all else, we never hire on a gender basis. Admitad also allows flexible timing to our women staff when it’s required. 

According to you, what are the Do’s and Don’ts for today’s women to break through the glass ceiling?
Do’s:

  • Be focused on work at a point in time
  • Maintain a healthy balance between personal and professional life. If you are happy at home, you must be happy at work
  • You should always wear a smile with your business attire
  • Work on persistency/ determination
  • Foremost is to take care of your health and be active 
  • Be a good listener and open for feedback
  • Be interactive with your colleagues
  • Stay Optimistic

Don’ts:

  • Don’t strive for everything
  • Don’t forget to relax (sometimes it gives you time to re-think about decisions taken)
  • Don’t be scared to take risks
  • Don’t look out for short cuts, success comes with time
  • Don’t underestimate yourself as a woman, show your strengths that will make you shine
  • Don’t bound, trust your team and let them perform
  • Don’t spread a negative vibe in your work environment
  • Don’t spoil your work ethics and etiquettes for accomplishing a target

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?
Pay gaps are biased when it comes to India. There are huge differences in the take-home of men and women. This unhealthy habit creates an unjustified mind-set in women, which hampers the work process. India is a progressive country where every gender has equal rights. In such a country, where men and women are treated on an equal scale, the remuneration decision should also be measured on the same graph of equality. Pay scale should be based on criterion like ability, smartness, skills and output and not on the basis of gender. Proper measures should be taken by the employers to minimise this gap. 

Also Read: The W Suite | Network18’s Sonia Kapoor on why being intuitive is good for business

What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?

  • Fearlessly handle your work and personal life, and find a perfect balance
  • Choose your priority – be it at work and personal, don’t act guilty
  • Keep your passion live
  • Bring the change as women leader
  • Mutual respect is the key to success
  • If you believe, you can achieve

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
Yes, especially at top levels, women are higher in leadership than men. Women take the initiative and give their all to achieve the goals as women work harder than men to prove themselves. They feel a constant pressure to never make a mistake and prove their value in the organisation. Recently, we witnessed so many women topping the charge. We can easily have women leaders at top chairs of any organisation. 

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?
It is a cakewalk to strike a proper and healthy balance in your personal and professional life when you have an understanding husband and family who keeps on uplifting you for your passion and profession. In my opinion, one should know how to delegate things in both the parts of your life. You cannot handle and do everything on your own. One should not strive for everything in life, but rather should be focused and be a master in your field. One should be concerned about his/her time as it is the most precious thing that we can give to someone. Relaxing at times is good as it helps to rethink on the taken decisions. Proper and transparent communication is the foremost thing to build any kind of relationship, be it personal or professional. 

How proactive have our corporates been when it comes to addressing a serious issue like sexual harassment at a workplace?
Globally, Admitad always takes care of its women employees, we have such policies in our India office as well to take care and control serious issues like sexual harassment at the workplace. Luckily, we have never encountered any negative or serious issues.

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