Women Led Organisations a Fitting Case for Soft Power Impact

The virtual space was lit by power of exchange of ideas and thoughtful passionate deliberations on challenges faced by women in leadership roles, held as part of a panel discussion programme, in the backdrop of the release of the ‘I-Lead’ Survey findings nationally on Tuesday. The Survey was conducted by the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode and Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Public Relations and Digital Marketing Council and made startling revelations about the gender divide in the Media, Communications and Public Relations Sector.

The ‘I Lead’ survey conducted in early 2021, received an overwhelming response from communication professionals across genres of Journalism, Advertising, Public Relations, Digital Communications, Content Writing, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Communications and revealed that 42% women believe that the universally championed ‘equal pay for equal work’ is not followed in true spirit. The other major findings were that two third (68%) respondents stated that their organisation does not have a formal mentoring program for aspiring women leaders. More than half (53%) respondents also added that organisations don’t have a clear career growth path for women joining post maternity leave or critical care breaks.

Prof. Debashis Chatterjee, Director IIM Kozhikode delivered the key note address at the panel discussion which had three eminent women leaders Deepali Naair (CMO IBM India & South Asia), Babibta Baruah (Managing Partner, GTB India) and Savita Mathai (Group Chief Talent Officer at FCB India and IPG Mediabrands). The session was moderated by Tarunjeet Rattan, (Managing Partner – Nucleus PR). The panel deliberated on and responded to how a change in ‘mindset’ is the most crucial evolution that organisations and workforce need to undergo to be accepting of a gender agnostic approach for future leaders.

Delivering his address, Prof. Chatterjee congratulated the Project Coordinators of WICCI and IIMK for conducting the survey and recounted how it was a mission worthy of its mission. Adding how this survey successfully uncovered the key gaps associated with women traversing the leadership ladder, unspoken biases lurking in the various policies and processes, and steps that the communication industry needs to discover and introduce for the ‘women of future’, he said, “Women ambitious for leadership role face formidable obstacles. Industries, organisations must step forward and recognise shortcoming in their design principles and assumption brought forth by this Survey and provide an equal platform. It will then be only a matter of time that women leaders take the corporate boardrooms by storm owing to their enhanced capabilities and the provision of equal opportunities.” He added that IIM Kozhikode is a testimony to women led soft power creating significant impact by virtue of the various affirmative gender diversity initiatives introduced by the top B-School in the past decade, which the other IIMs are also now accepting and adapting to their own framework.

Prof. Deepa Sethi, the IIMK project coordinator for I-Lead added, “The I-Lead survey is a glimpse into the psyche of the workspace where there is a dire need of equality in terms of every aspect of human resource in general and women employee progression on the leadership ladder in particular. Women need to be trusted with key roles and not be stereotyped.” She added that the ‘I Lead’ survey recommends a transformative framework known as OTS in view of three gaps identified at policy, skillset, and mindset level, clearly indicating the need to restructure and together introduce a change mechanism for the industry. Prof. Debashis Chatterjee and Prof. Deepa Sethi will also be co-authoring a White paper on the Survey.


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