PR industry is blessed to have more women in the system: Shivani Gupta

Gupta, Managing Director at Strategic Partners Group explains how a company’s balanced culture can help build strong women leaders and vice versa

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Apr 6, 2020 3:55 PM
Shivani Gupta

In the past, studies have shown that male-focused organisational culture has been a barrier to women's career advancement, but that is barely the case now. Organisations have become more supportive of its female workforce these days, focusing more on gender neutrality. In today’s edition of Women Achievers series, we speak to Shivani Gupta, Managing Director at Strategic Partners Group on how the culture of a company can help build strong women leaders and vice versa.

Edited Excerpts:-

How is the PR industry unique with its largely female workforce?

Women have an in-built attitude to build a strong ecosystem, resilience being the key for it. They are very well accustomed to the 4Cs -- Competence - recognising their own and team’s competence; Control– having a control on the situation when required; Coping- with timelines /deadlines; and Confidence. They are multi-skilled individuals with an added touch of empathy and love. 

In my view, the PR industry is blessed to have more women in the system. Women have a "Go with the flow" attitude coupled with a critical planning outlook, which are added feathers in their talent caps.

What does an agency have to build its culture and work ethos to promote gender neutrality?

The success of any team or campaign is based on many ethos, including clear thinking, proper planning, generosity, wisdom and kindness. I think that the organisations need to have the right policies, platforms, right ecosystem and emotional support for its employees to build a healthy working periphery. Policies need to be balanced for both genders. I believe that a balanced culture can be supportive of both men and women and hence makes and creates a clean and mature environment. Hence it is important to have people on board with a positive and collaborative work attitude.

At Strategic Partners Group, we organise sessions on listening and conversations. We have tried creating a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up. This has not only created an optimistic environment but also aroused a sense of equality among employees.

How crucial is the role of men in an organization to promote gender equality?

Men have come a long way in terms of working with women. They no longer feel insecure. In fact, I see men supportive of their female colleagues at work or spouses at home. It’s nice to see how the team bond is built irrespective of the number of men or women in a team. Everyone realises today that working together as a team is the key to success.

We all have different approaches to handling something. There could be a difference of opinion as well. But as long as we pause and acknowledge each other’s strengths and not so much on the weaknesses, it gets easier to work as a team.

Why is the ratio of men and women not proportionate as we move to senior leadership level?

Yes, I agree that the ratio is disturbed as we move up the ladder. There are fewer women CEOs and CMOs in the senior leadership levels as there are in the mid leadership level. There could be various reasons behind it like marriage, maternity, lack of support, children and others. We need to decrease the gap as we move ahead in times and see more women CEOs joining the spectrum.

The focus has definitely shifted more towards talent, knowledge and the zeal to work rather than on gender. Balanced work culture across all levels is the key to the normal functioning of any firm.

Is there a pay gap in the PR industry?

The PR industry is primarily a talent-driven industry. Passion and attitude of the person and not gender is seen as parameters. PR professionals are paid according to their work and experience in the industry and not gender. At SPAG, it has never been a parameter for us.

What is your message to other women in the industry?

I feel it is really not about men and women so much anymore. It is about how both genders are supportive of each other to create a conducive working environment.

My message to my fellow PR professionals is to recognise and reward each other’s efforts. Have the skills to manage even at the times of conflict and treat each other with respect and esteem.

Another important suggestion for professionals joining the industry is to have the desire and hunger to work with full commitment towards anything that they feel for. Being in the field of healthcare communications, I have come across many people who joined us with the desire to give back to society. I could see the passion and the involvement with which they work and immerse themselves into anything they do. This will definitely take them to newer heights.

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