The W-Suite | Gender pay gap is a huge issue in India: Tara Kapur

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. 

Long distance runner, travel enthusiast, tea addict, book & film lover, strategist – Tara Kapur dons several hats. Kapur is also Chief Marketing Officer at digital content studio Supari Studios and a founding member of Vitamin Stree. Working at a start-up like Supari Studios, she has had the opportunity to oversee various roles at the organisation. In a nutshell, her role has been to help the company grow through various channels – through business partnerships, media interactions and community building. On the branded content side, she has developed strategies for brands such as Google, Dolby, Red Bull, YouTube, Twitter and others. 

Kapur has been a part of the founding team that set up Vitamin Stree, the company’s first proprietary content property and currently heads this initiative for the company. Besides this, she oversees the communication department, and works on deepening the company’s media relationships and external messaging. 

Also Read: The W-Suite | Leadership is an attitude, there’s no formula for it: Leena Duwadi

Prior to Supari Studios, she had worked as a television journalist for 6 years with some of the country’s leading business channels - ET Now and Bloomberg UTV. Her role entailed indepth analysis, reporting, conceptualising shows, interviewing thought leaders and covering industry trends. 

How would you define today’s woman leader?
I think in today’s day and age, terms like “woman leader” and “girl boss” are problematic. It is already difficult for a woman to break the glass ceiling and fill leadership positions, and once they make it, they should just be called ‘leaders’ and ‘bosses’. There is no reason to define them as ‘women leaders’. 

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
I think leaders of today, especially in the media industry, have become a lot more agile and flexible; they need to constantly think of new ideas and innovative approaches for their business to grow. They need to be effective communicators in all areas – this includes various teams within an organisation, clients and business partners, as well as on email and social media. The third attribute would be ownership and accountability, not only of themselves but of the team that they manage as well. And finally, being goal-driven and target-oriented is extremely important; leaders of today need to have short term goals and long term vision for the future of their companies. 

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?
There are many obstacles faced by women in the workplace – gender bias, unequal pay, sexual harassment, but the biggest of them all is the economic participation gap. At ‘Vitamin Stree’, the content platform that I run for Supari Studios, we covered this topic in great detail in a video called Women In The Workplace. Women comprise 42 per cent of the total graduates in India, yet most of them don’t even join the workforce. We are ranked 139th in the world when it comes to the economic participation of women, out of 145 countries! Societal pressures and gender conditioning in India are among the main reasons that we have so many women in this country who are educated and able to work, yet do not. 

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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 is a huge issue in India, across all industries. According to an article that came out in the Economic Times in March, women in India earn 20 per cent less than men! Why should there be a differentiation? It doesn’t make sense to me. At Supari Studios, we are an equal pay organisation, all our employees are paid based on merit and experience, regardless of gender. As a result, 4 members of our core team (of 8 members) are women, and many of them have been around since the inception of the company. Organisations across sectors need to make a conscious effort to make sure they do not discriminate on gender.

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
Companies that have a higher percentage of women in leadership positions have reaped the benefits. It is not about oneupmanship between men and women, but it is about improving diversity of thought in organisations. There are countless reports that highlight how women leaders are often more collaborative, are great multi-taskers, and most importantly, are fantastic mentors for younger employees. Increasing the number female role models isn’t just about closing the gender gap, but about uplifting society as a whole. The more women we can empower, the faster we will see a positive change in our organisations, communities and countries. 

Also Read: The W-Suite | A wide gender pay gap does exist in India: Sherina Kapany

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

The five most effective lessons I have learnt being a leader:

  • Delegate: You are only as good as the team you train, and delegate to, the effectiveness and the skills of your team to execute reflects on you.
  • Patience: Cracking the whip and playing ‘bad cop’ might help get the work done, but instilling fear in employees leads to higher attrition rates as well. Being patient and taking the ‘school teacher’ approach helps cultivate a more pleasant work environment.
  • Communication: You have to learn to communicate to a wide spectrum of people, not everyone understands things the same way you do, so it’s important to figure out various ways of communicating with the team you manage.   
  • To-Do Lists: Creating to-do lists helps you prioritize and have better time management. Saying “I forgot” is unacceptable, and to-do lists make sure that doesn’t happen.
  • Efficiency: Setting internal deadlines, figuring out what should be an email instead of a meeting, shorter breaks, maintaining a schedule, are all simple ways of making sure your work day is more efficient and ensures you leave office on time.

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?
Maintaining a balance in my life is something I work really hard at, and it isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it is possible! I love to run in the morning and hence, start my day very early, which means I need to leave office by around 7 pm. I don’t believe anyone needs to work long hours as long as they are productive and efficient at office. 

How proactive have our corporates been when it comes to addressing a serious issue like sexual harassment at workplace?
I think especially after #MeToo, organisations have become extremely mindful about implementing Sexual Harassment Policies within their organisations, and women have become a lot more vocal in terms of speaking up about sexual harassment that they face at the workplace, even if it is against senior management. I think gender sensitisation at workplaces is very important and employees need to be educated on what is acceptable behaviour. 

At Supari, we have implemented our Policy on Sexual Harassment, and conducted a workshop led by our legal team for all our employees to get a better understanding of what classifies as harassment. We will be conducting another workshop with She Says, an NGO that is engaged in educating, rehabilitating and empowering women to speak up and take direct action against sexual abuse. She Says conducts workshops aimed at helping attendees understand the nuances of sexual harassment at work. Aspects such as how does one report an instance, how does a superior officer handle such a complaint, what are the rights of the complainant and what is a bystander’s role in such cases are taken up in these sessions.

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