The W-Suite | There’s equality for both sexes in advertising:Dhunji Wadia

With a rapidly evolving business and economic landscape there is a dire requirement of fresh thinking, new skill sets, greater flexibility & adaptability, more collaboration as well as the ability to think on one’s feet. 

Gone are the days when the thinking was more on the lines of get a man to do this job. 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. 

There are way too many trend-setters and convention-breakers today. And we don’t have to look far, as there are several inspiring women leaders in the Indian advertising and media industry, who have achieved much and paved the way for many to follow. 

AdGully proudly presents ‘The W-Suite’ (taken from the C-Suite), our feature series, wherein we are featuring 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. 

While in the last few weeks we have been featuring women leaders sharing their views, what do the male leaders in the industry think about women taking the lead? How do corporate support and encourage women to take up leadership roles? 

Dhunji S Wadia, President, Rediffusion Y&R, does not see any difference between male and female leaders, stressing that it depends on their individual abilities and the capability to translate vision into reality. “The best leaders would empower their team,” he maintains. 

Wadia is also President, Everest Brand Solutions. With over a quarter century of experience in the business, he has been associated with major national and international brands (Parle, TATA, Unilever, Nike, Levi Strauss, Diamond Trading Co, Kellogg, Aditya Birla Group, Sony Entertainment Television – MAX and SAB, and Kotak, to name just a few). 

Armed with a wealth of strategic knowledge and business acumen, Wadia’s current focus is on championing the kind of creative thinking that breaks myths, pushes envelopes, propels brands and drives business. Under his leadership, Rediffusion Y&R has grown at a fast pace and has built a formidable reputation on its professional capabilities across a diverse spectrum of marketing communication services. 

What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
The right question would be ‘What defines a leader’? A leader would have the capability to translate vision into reality. And the best leaders would empower their team. 

The leader could be male or female, depending on their individual abilities – I do not see any difference. 

Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
I am very proud to say that 3 of our 6 operations are headed by women. For Rediffusion Y&R, we have Suman Verma heading the Northern Operations and Suparna Mucadam heading East. Aradhana Rai Bhushan heads Everest Brand Solutions in Mumbai. Half the leaders in my group are women and they are doing a fabulous job every day. 

Do you think women leaders are still scrutinised as much for style as for substance?
This would not be true for advertising, as there is an equality and mutual esteem for both sexes. However, there may be differences across organisations. The real point should be what the individual brings to the table as a professional, not how stylish he or she is. Having said that, I also believe ‘What you say’ and ‘How you say’ are both important – that’s my interpretation of style and substance. 

Do you think pay parity exists in our corporates today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
I can confidently say that at Rediffusion Y&R Group (of which Everest is a part), there is no discrimination whatsoever on compensation. It stems from the ability and merit of each individual. We have a robust appraisal mechanism which emphasises on building our individuals and teams. 

What are the organisational factors that can impact the leadership effectiveness of women?
There should be a culture of equality and zero discrimination. Without that, the effectiveness can be hampered. 

What perplexes professional men about the women they work with?
Nothing should. 

Do you think companies with more women in leadership posts offer a better work environment and perform better?
At the cost of repeating, once again, this should be a merit-based conversation.


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