Adfactors PR strives for diversity and inclusion at the workplace: Arwa Husain
Arwa Husain, Director at Adfactors PR, says women always seem to flourish in the PR and Communication industry
Heading the largest financial service vertical, Arwa Husain is one of the most important faces in the senior management team of Adfactors PR. Husain, who joined the firm in 2006, is known for making rich contributions to the firm’s business growth in the financial services space. She aces the skill of providing the best strategic board-level counsel to her clients, as well as building and managing key media relations.
Husain has been the key driving force for clients across the board and has been instrumental in helping clients in some out-of-the-box campaigns. As part of our ‘Women Achievers Series’, we spoke to Arwa Husain- Director at Adfactors PR on her journey, her role in maintaining an equitable landscape in her organization, the challenges she personally encountered in women leadership and more.
How has your journey been in the PR industry? What are your key learnings?
I started my career 24 years ago as a Finance journalist, after completing my Master’s degree in Economics from Mumbai University. I worked for a good 4 years as a journalist and then switched to an analyst role in ShareKhan. Soon after, the dot-com crash, I was without a job and then decided to move to PR. I had decided that I would do PR at a later age and spend my time as an analyst. Alas, I could be an analyst only for a year. Looking back, I realize that although this was not the industry I started with, this will definitely be the industry I will end with. The journey has been quite eventful, full of experiences, memories and achievements that I will cherish for life.
The learning curve has been phenomenal, and I can say that in spite of my years of experience, I am always learning something new. Adfactors PR has been an empowering platform, by providing us with extensive knowledge on a wide spectrum of topics. The company considers one of its personal goals to continuously upscale its skills to remain relevant in this competitive age and to lead change from the forefront, undeterred by the ever-changing and dynamic landscape. They provided me with opportunities which I could never have dreamt of, such as international learnings from reputed universities and meetings with dignitaries across the world and thereby further increase my knowledge.
How unique is the PR industry with a largely female workforce?
In my view, communication has always been a more women-oriented industry. No matter what, in this industry women always seem to flourish. Attributes like multitasking, empathy and negotiating capabilities are essential in this industry. Hence women have an edge and are prominent in this landscape
More leaders are women in the mid- leadership level but the attrition starts happening as we move up the ladder. There are various personal, socio-cultural reasons pertaining to it. As leaders, it is imperative that we support our fellow colleagues based on merit, and fight against bias.
How is the culture of an organization instrumental in promoting equality? What are the measures taken by Adfactors PR to promote gender neutrality?
The culture of an organization is mainly formed by the people comprising it. An organization should aspire to bring the best out of their people, by providing a nurturing environment, psychological and social support. All this pertains to leadership and who is leading the firm
Adfactors PR is a gender agnostic firm where talent and experience have always been given, paramount importance. I have spent almost 14 years in this organization and have found that equal opportunities are given based on merit and not on gender. The ratio between men and women is 9:11 and we are constantly striving to make it more equitable. In this agency, we consider diversity and inclusion to be one of our most important pillar and core value. We encourage various practices to allow working mothers to work efficiently without constraints.
What is the role of men in providing an equitable landscape at the workplace and in one's personal life?
Both genders play an important role in maintaining an equitable landscape in the workplace and personal life. Sharing the work, maintaining a healthy ambience for promoting growth and understanding each other, are the pre-requisites.
Also, I personally feel that men in the communication industry understand the pivotal role a women plays, far better. Both my bosses have been men and I can say that they have been a pillar of strength. I have grown in this profession, only because they gave me the freedom to excel. At Adfactors PR there is less focus on politics and more on inclusion and excellence.
Have you faced gender biases during your journey? If yes, what could have been the possible reason behind it?
I have experienced very little bias, but I have always ensured that my work has been top-notch. My work spoke for me and conveyed the kind of person I am. The current scenario is far different from the one, prevalent when I joined the workforce. Overcoming bias is happening gradually. However, Adfactors PR has been a fostering environment for growth and I have been blessed with a very supportive workplace. Also, I have always had a helping hand in the form of my husband and my family, who have always made sure to stand by my side, come what may.
What are the major challenges for woman leadership?
Mindset is the biggest challenge for a leader. The desire to aspire and reach for the sky needs to come from within. Until and unless we don’t stand up for ourselves and strive to work regardless of social constraints, things will not change. Women have to be their own heroes and be the face of change in order to bring about a larger impact on society as a whole.
What is your message to fellow PR professionals in the industry?
As already stated, I have always believed in continuous learning in order to upscale my skills to remain relevant in this ever-changing landscape. Always be client-oriented and lead from the front. Never hesitate in making a bold opinion.
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