Mindsets & organisational culture big challenges to women's leadership: Tarunjeet Rattan
In our Women’s Achiever’s series, Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner at Nucleus PR, shares her views on women leadership, pay gaps in the industry and methods to keep women motivated at the workplace
Being among the first line of women entrepreneurs, Tarunjeet Rattan leads the way for women of her generation and the younger generation to follow. She is currently Managing Partner of Nucleus PR and also the co-founder of ARtickles. With over 18 years of experience in the communication industry, Rattan excels in driving brand campaigns, strategizing and delivering relevant media counsels.
In today’s edition of our Women’s Achiever’s series, we speak to Tarunjeet Rattan on her view on women leadership in the PR industry, gender disparity of the industry, pay gaps, methods to keep women motivated at the workplace and more.
“I thrive on new challenges that help me grow”, said Tarunjeet in a candid chat with exchange4media.
What is your view on women leadership in the male-dominated industries across domains? How is the PR industry different in this regard?
We have come a long way but a lot more still needs to be done. When I meet new clients I ask them about their boardroom diversity, gender equality and the number of women in leadership positions in their companies. All of them are surprised at these questions and wonder why it is important for a PR person to be questioning them on it.
I have made it my personal mission to sensitise them towards the importance of balancing this scale. A lot of them don’t really realise that this was missing and since this is how things used to run earlier, they don’t bother rocking the boat. But am happy to see them take these questions positively and they genuinely make an effort to be more inclusive when they understand the need for it. My mission becomes slightly easier when they realise that media gives it due importance and they understand how it will reflect on their overall image.
When it comes to PR, while it is a very female-dominated profession, we have only a handful of women CEO’s heading agencies and being appointed as Corp Comm heads. Interestingly though this seems to be changing at a faster pace at the corporate communication level and more women are starting their own agencies to challenge the gender status quo that exists currently. And am cheering them all the way!
What are the prerequisites for a woman entrepreneur to become successful?
Mindset is the biggest prerequisite, irrespective of gender. Women tend to push themselves harder and hold themselves to higher standards on any given day. This is ingrained in us from the start. The belief that you have to do more, be better because you have to constantly prove to your male peers that you can do the job as well or better than them, is an archaic one. Let it go. Be yourself and work at your own pace and chart your own definition of success.
The moment you change your mindset from one of a disgruntled challenger to a winner comfortable with her success, you are more than halfway there.
What is the outlook of the PR industry in terms of the gender gap at organisations?
This is one industry that is still dominated by women and I think more men need to be hired to balance the scales. However, as you move towards the top, you meet fewer and fewer women heading the ranks. I think, it can still be improved upon and I see a lot of agencies consciously trying to do that. Having said that, women also need to do their part. Keep up, speak up and don’t shy away from showcasing your work when it matters.
Have there been instances of you facing any kind of bias in the past?
Yes. I was always a rebel growing up and consciously used to challenge the ‘good girl’ set of rules, much to the annoyance of my family (they learnt over time that they have no choice but to accept it). I had it easy because the family loves you no matter what.
When I initially joined the industry, I was very surprised at the gender bias. It was always subtle. Nothing over the top. I saw a lot of men (sometimes only men) work on women's brands and when I was working on male-oriented brands I didn’t think much of it. That is until I had a particular agency working with me on a male-oriented brand take it upon themselves to challenge me, try and embarrass me with lewd conversations and sexist ideas and try and break my confidence. It got to them that a girl was working on the brand who not only had her own opinion but was not afraid of expressing it and was also good at her job. I was given the option of moving out of the brand by concerned seniors as they thought a man would be better suited to the 'all-boys club'. But I refused to back down and stuck it out and paved my own way through.
Is there a pay gap in the industry? If yes, why is it so?
Yes, there is still a pay gap in the industry. A woman heading an agency negotiation more often than not ends up with a lower retainer as compared to the men. This has got to do with our own self-worth along with an overall societal perception on gender capability. While you can work on your self-worth, the perception issue is much more difficult to seed out. I have been lucky to find some great mentors who helped me figure out self-worth early on. The other aspect I am still working on but am hopeful that the industry and our society, in general, will get there. The clients who measure you by the work, intelligence and experience you bring to the table, irrespective of the gender, are always more loved and respected overall as compared to the others who believe that your gender limits you.
What are the ways to motivate women employees at work?
Have their back. Whether it is with a client, journalist or in general. While we all like to believe that there is a certain way we would want all women and men to work alike, it is a fact that women in our country and industry face a far greater amount of challenges as compared to their male peers. Be their problem solver. Work with them to help them work these issues out so that they can be the best version of themselves.
What are the major challenges to woman leadership?
In my view, mindsets, organisational culture and egos are the major prevailing challenges to woman leadership in today’s times.
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