The W Suite | 90% of sexual harassment cases are never reported: Chanda Singh

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. 

Geometry Encompass Managing Partner Chanda Singh’s strengths are driven by creating large format brand experiences that constantly push the envelope of experiential marketing. She is a perfectionist and for her, no detail is too small, and managing complex experiential projects are her forte. Her no nonsense approach and a sharp eye on deadlines ensure timely execution on all event deliverables. 

Singh started her professional journey after completing her Masters in Communication Management from International School of Business & Media, Pune. She joined Geometry Encompass 15 years back and has been leading the Mumbai branch, Business Management, Business Development, General Management & Client Servicing. Her designations range from an Internee to Managing Partner. Geometry Encompass is a global brand experience agency operating across 56 countries. 

Some of the notable sectors and brands that Singh has worked with fall under the Financial, Automotive, FMCG, Pharma, Aviation and Technology sector with brands like Asian Paints, HSBC, Audi, Nissan, ICICI Group, P&G, Colgate and GVK. Singh’s work at Geometry Encompass has won her clients awards and campaigns like PMMA, EEMAX and WOW for brands like P&G, Asian Paints, HSBC and Audi. 

How would you define today’s woman leader?
Sharp and focused. ‘Women in leadership positions’ is still a new culture for many, and thus come with an extra responsibility to carry forward this culture and build gender neutrality in the workspace. The inherent traits such as to nurture and evolve, to multi-task and drive, comes naturally to a woman.  

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
Women in leadership roles must be able to define their own unique characteristics, and hone on their individual skill sets. The edge that drives them empowers them, and the hunger to succeed is something that will set them apart. 

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?
The seed lies in the perception. People see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe. A woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister – some feel she needs to be protected and some feel she doesn’t have what it takes to run a boardroom. Very often women themselves fall for this perception often created by societal and male peers and pressure. I see this changing around me, and that gives me hope that very soon we shall see gender neutrality across offices, all the way to the boardroom. 

What more do Indian corporates need to do to encourage and groom women leaders?
We need to create an ecosystem where everyone feels like an equal. Not just across age and religion, but even gender. When young talent is treated as an equal – he or she will be able to nourish the empowerment and could do wonders. Creating an open, healthy environment, where everyone’s voice is heard, easily approachable mentors to talk to, good training programmes – all of this leads to a comfortable and encouraging work environment that can hone and build any talent into a leader – man or woman!  

According to you, what are the Do’s and Don’ts for today’s women to break through the glass ceiling?
Success is not final, and failure is not fatal. It takes courage to break boundaries and shatter glass ceilings. Women are brave and courageous beings, we just need to be true to ourselves. Women need to believe, and this belief will transcend into a new world.  

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?
The gender pay gap exists, but this cannot be a made a blanket statement as I see a major change across industries and offices. There is still a long way to go, where your pay is decided by your own talent and skills and not your gender. This precedence is also set by individual organisations, and therefore as women leaders, it is our job to set this precedence correctly where pay is decided by you and you alone.  

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
If we strive for gender neutrality and equality, then we cannot say women are better than men. Men and women have different attributes, and a balanced workplace and environment can only be created with an equal involvement from both genders. The idea is to bring the best of both onto the same platform and compliment each other, and in a case of leadership – to choose the best person for the job. 

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

  • To lead with complete fairness.
  • To instill confidence amongst my teams.
  • To empower and motivate the right talent.
  • To create a work environment that brings alive a good sense of culture, values, and beliefs.
  • And lastly, to create a legacy that drives and inspires other women to get up and live their dreams. 

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?
Time management is crucial and very often difficult when it comes to balancing career and family. There will always be days when one has to take precedence over the other. But I ensure that I maintain a good balance, and prioritise when necessary. I also believe that having a good support system is the key to this balance, and I have an extremely supportive partner who helps me create this balance and live up to my responsibilities both at home and at work.  

How proactive have our corporates been when it comes to addressing a serious issue like sexual harassment in the workplace?
Ninety per cent of sexual harassment cases are never reported. We need to work together to build a safe and comfortable environment at work for everyone. Companies need to hear, react, adhere and execute the policies set out on paper. There should be a zero tolerance policy for any kind of harassment. Giving people a voice will lower the chance of any and all kinds of harassment. 

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