'Every leader must work towards removing gender imbalance to grow together as an industry'
Nandita Lakshmanan, Founder & CEO at The Practice, says society must move towards encouraging men to embrace parenthood and become equal partners when it comes to managing the home front
As the Chairperson & CEO, Nandita Lakshmanan provides the vision and direction for The PRactice. Her views on public relations are based on her experience gathered over 27 years of being in the industry. These experiences have not only shaped her personal vision but have also influenced the direction of the Firm to stay relevant in today’s market realities.
In today’s edition of our Women Achievers Series, we speak to Nandita Lakshmanan on her experience as a woman in the Public Relations industry - her journey, views of gender neutrality and the role that the organisational structure plays in promoting gender equality.
Reminiscing about her journey in the Public Relations industry, Nandita shares that it has been a journey of give-and-take - one that has been extremely fulfilling and has shaped her personality to a large extent. Giving full credit to the Public Relations fraternity in giving wings to her talent and shaping her thoughts, she is proud to be a part of an industry that has seen several women lead from the front and even today is dominated by women.
As a woman in a leadership position, Nandita has had the chance to work very closely with C- Suite executives. At this level, it is one’s ability to counsel and deliver that matters.
When asked why there is a lack of women representation at a senior leadership level, Lakshmanan explains that many women drop out as they move ahead in their career. Multiple reasons could be owing to the various phases of a woman’s life journey including marriage, maternity, motherhood, menopause and others. “We must stop looking at pregnancy as an ailment or a disease,” she says. She points out that for careers for women, in our society, is still seen as an option and not an imperative in her life journey.
Nandita has successfully spearheaded several brand campaigns and operations. She has been instrumental in developing strategies for leading companies like Infosys, Microsoft, Intel, IBM Software Group, 3M during the course of her career. In her stint at Genesis PR, she was instrumental in launching the Indian operations of Volvo, Symantec, and Varity Perkins. “Any professional organisation should focus on competence; gender is inconsequential,”she says. She also added that it is for every professional in the client servicing business to engage with clients effectively and earn their trust.
Over the years, Nandita has amassed invaluable experience in the areas of crisis management, media relations, brand building, product launches, etc. Having seldom encountered gender bias, Lakshmanan says that it exists. “Gender balance in any industry is very important. The Public Relations industry is no different”. In her words, “Every leader must work consciously to remove gender imbalance”. She urges the Public Relations industry to be the first to rectify the prevailing gender bias and make the workplace equitable.
According to Lakshmanan, the organizational structure plays a crucial role in promoting gender equality. Both men and women have an equal share of responsibilities and opportunities. She adds that to help senior-level employees at The PRactice, they undergo a mentoring program called ‘Leading with Impact’. The program supports these employees as they navigate their new roles and its impact on the organisation.
Lakshmanan points out that society must change its mindset in order to make the workplace more equitable. If men become equal partners at home, contributing to becoming caregivers the way women are, we will see more women opting for careers rather than staying at home. Things are changing - slowly. "We must look beyond our own organisations and take a broader view of what this will mean for enabling more women to return to work. Organisations must encourage male colleagues to enjoy parenthood too and be equal partners in supporting their spouses in the home front. Focusing only at the workplace may not yield the kind of results one wants to see" she adds.
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