Senior role models help women grow within a company & industry: Archana Jain, PR Pundit
Archana Jain, Founder & Managing Director, PR Pundit, says companies must have a gender-neutral outlook to ensure that there is a balanced blend of opinions
Among the first line of female entrepreneurs in the PR fraternity, Archana Jain has given recognition to consumer PR in the country. Today, her firm- PR Pundit, is regarded as the frontrunner in luxury and lifestyle PR acing the art since 1998.
Jain has always been a pioneer in bringing fresh ideas and perspective on the table. She has always been an advocate of quality of work and has the reputation of bringing several successful brand campaigns to reality. With a team of 80% women workforce, Archana proudly boasts of completing almost two decades in the PR industry as an independent and successful entrepreneur.
Envisaging on a journey of almost three decades in the communications industry, Archana Jain, Founder and Managing Director, PR Pundit talks her heart to e4m on her journey as a women entrepreneur in the PR industry, gender biases present in the industry, work culture to promote gender equality and more.
You are amongst the first line of women entrepreneurs in the PR industry. How were your initial days as an entrepreneur?
I started my small venture in the summer of 1998. It took me three long years of perseverance to convince clients of my company’s mettle. Despite my sound professional knowledge and experience, it was a very slow start. It was frustrating to be told by prospects that all things being equal they needed scale of operations and hence chose to work with other firms. But I must add that I never felt discriminated on account of gender.
How challenging was the journey and what are your key learnings along the process?
We embarked on the journey of consumer PR and that was a tad bit ahead of its times. What seemed then like we were going nowhere, has given us a unique positioning today.
The other learning was networking! Something that I realized was grossly missing in my DNA. A career without a web of contacts isn’t much of a career at all. Simply stated, networking puts you on the fast track, creating shortcuts and saving you invaluable time. The more people you know and trust, the faster you can find answers to questions, and solutions to problems.
How unique is the PR industry with its largely female workforce?
I think PR is all about collaboration, participation, and being pro-social, this does come more naturally to women. Also, PR people are expected to demonstrate sensitivity which is an innate asset among women. PR industry demonstrates a unique ability to multi-task as we always have our hands in many different pots at any given time. This appeals more so to a woman's personality.
What does an agency have to do to build its culture and work ethos to promote gender neutrality?
Every company must have a gender-neutral outlook to ensure that there is a balanced blend of opinions. A diverse team brings together varied skills, personalities and therefore perspectives. This helps infuse fresh ideas, aid smarter problem-solving and lead to better decision making.
PR Pundit is a women-dominated firm, with an 85% women workforce and a 100% women leadership team. This has been possible as our outlook has always been to help women balance their personal and professional commitments. We had introduced work-from-home for mothers’ way back in 2004. More recently we introduced an option of working one day a month from home across talent. Also with a predominantly female workforce, we practice flexible working hours to allow team members to beat the rush-hour traffic and/or manage essential chores in the working week.
We follow government regulations with respect to maternity and paternity policies. We have been known to encourage women who have taken a long break from corporate life to get back to work.
We follow a gender-diverse approach towards recruitment and offer equal pay for equal work to talent. We only evaluate candidates based on their capabilities and strengths, and not on their gender.
Have you ever experienced any instances of gender bias? If yes, Could you share it with us?
Some sectors like public sector companies and Government departments that have predominantly male leadership tend to be uncomfortable working with a team of largely women advisors. There is a need across a fair section of corporate India to learn and accept views and insights from women consultants or colleagues.
Why is the ratio of men and women not proportionate as we move to senior leadership level?
Women tend to drop out at a point of time in their careers to nurture a family. Sadly very few organisations encourage them to come back into the workforce by according them the necessary flexibility in job roles, timings, etc.
What steps need to be taken to ensure a gender-agnostic Communication industry?
Having senior role models helps women grow within a company and industry. Other steps include: having the right processes in place to recognise, develop and reward female talent; a mentor who can help boost confidence, open up networks and give strategic insights to other women trying to progress at the workplace.
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