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There’s an unconscious bias towards giving women responsibility: Nisha Pokhriyal

We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. Last year, we launched our unique and distinct program, called WOMEN DISRUPTORS, which drew a lot of attention and was highly appreciated by the industry. W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising & Marketing, PR & Communication industry. In the refurbished series, we will find out how women leaders have been managing their teams and work as well as how they have been navigating through the toughest and most challenging times brought about by the global pandemic.

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Nisha Pokhriyal comes with over a decade of experience working across various sectors as a marketer. She has been instrumental in strengthening the marketing strategy for Mitron TV. Under her leadership as Vice President – Marketing, she has driven some incredibly refreshing campaigns, including #VirusToVaccine, #SayNoToDrugs, #Netaji125 to name a few. Prior to joining Mitron TV, she was associated with VMate, the short video app from Alibaba Mobile Business Group. In the past, Pokhriyal has held senior roles at Dentsu Webchutney and IPAN. 

In conversation with Adgully, Nisha Pokhriyal, VP - Marketing, Mitron TV, speaks about how women have been creating a gender-sensitive workplace by providing equal opportunities for advancement. She also laments the fact that while women are ambitious, they just don’t get the opportunity. 

How would you define today’s woman leader?

The definition has not changed, but there are more faces in leadership roles across sectors.

Women frequently have to make extra efforts to be recognised and respected by their peers. They are here as a result of their talent, previous hard work, and an opportunity provided by someone who believed in their talents without regard for gender. As a result, today women have been creating a gender-sensitive workplace by providing equal opportunities for advancement.

Women leaders are redefining the future by fostering a collaborative environment that encourages and embraces future female leaders. Today, many people have defied expectations by making daring moves that have resulted in inspiring results in a variety of fields. The progress has been phenomenal, but there is still a long way to go for gender equality around the world. 

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?

We are all aware of how fiercely competitive the business world can be; every brand and organisation strive to be the best. Perhaps, regardless of gender, business leaders should have these characteristics.

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Empathy - Women are inherently empathic. This enables them to connect, collaborate, and commit to those around them. People want to be heard, and this allows for two-way communication, resulting in a more collaborative and open environment.

Strength - Have the courage to take risks, learn from experience, and never give up fighting for what you believe in. People already want you to fail, so defy the norms and write your own story.

Innovation - Bring in new ideas, take initiatives and inspire others to think about how to turn challenges into opportunities.

While following all the other attributes, one should not forget to take a step back and pat themselves on even the smallest of accomplishments. 

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 perception is that women should be taking care of the family and household. Women are ambitious, they just don’t get the opportunity. There is an unconscious bias towards giving them responsibility. However, things are changing at a slower pace, where women have started with their entrepreneurship journey with a small scale business from home. To make the change at a larger scale, we need to break the perception, prove them wrong and lead by examples.

For instance, in the past one year, there has been a rise in women entrepreneurs who have started with small businesses/ boutiques with the help of social media platforms and are supporting their family in these tough times. 

What more do Indian corporates need to do to encourage and groom women leaders?

It is critical for corporations to conduct regular training and workshops in order to break down gender stereotypes. Encourage the development of skill sets for women in the workforce so that they can discover their true calling as personal and professional growth should go hand in hand. 

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

There are no hard and fast rules. Every step forward is a step into uncharted territory. It’s an ongoing process. There are no do’s or don’ts; simply do what you can. Women leaders have yet to develop their winning formula, so making rules is premature. Explore, take risks, go wild, and leave your imprints. 

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?

To understand the pay gap, let’s look at some numbers first. The gender gap in India has widened to 62.5% as per Global gender gap index 2021. India ranked 140th among 156 nations participating in the rankings. This indicates that the issue is not just with the pay, but with economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment – the four parameters measured in the report. Secondly, we need a progressive society with a non-judgmental mindset that evaluates the talent based on their skills and potential and not by gender. 

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

  • Embrace change
  • Ask for help
  • Practice gratitude and be kind
  • Be the fool and take that leap of faith
  • Dream big, stay positive, work hard and enjoy the journey 

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?

There is no perfect balance; it is determined by the needs of the hour. Each role necessitates time and effort, the extent of which is determined by where you are in your life or career. The important thing to remember is that one cannot function alone; professional and personal assistance is required. Whether it’s my family or my team members, their help is essential for smooth operation on both fronts. It is teamwork at both the places. I never compromise with either of them; I make certain not to mix them and to give my personal and professional lives the time and attention they require. 

How prevalent are the instances of Sexual Harassment in workplaces in India? What should the industry collectively do to tackle such a serious issue?

When I began my career, I do not remember having any regulated bodies to address any sexual abuse-related concerns. However, the #MeToo movement in 2018 gave this topic the much-needed attention in India and around the world. It is critical for organisations to be affiliated with regulated committees and to hold workshops at regular intervals. While the company’s sexual harassment policies are included in agreements, POSH training should be made mandatory as part of the onboarding process.

Second, there have been reports of sexual harassment directed at people of the opposite gender and members of the LGBTQ community. Even this needs to be seriously considered and workshops should be held to address it. A healthy work environment is one in which each gender is respected.

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