Tough job demands are gender neutral in PR says PR Guru’s expert panel

This week marks ‘International Women’s Day’ and women have certainly made their mark in PR. PR professionals share their views on gender and work with the PR Guru expert panel.

Our panel includes...
Kunal Kishore Sinha, founder director, Value 360 Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Gayatri Rath, director, corporate communications and citizenship, Microsoft India
Deepa Thomas, general manager, group communications, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Paroma Roy Chowdhury, vice president, public affairs –SoftBank
Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies
Sonia Dhawan, DGM-marketing and PR, Paytm
Shravani Dang, vice president & global group head of corporate communications at the Avantha Group
Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, co-founder & director, Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited.


Is the rule book/ success mantras different for men and women? At the the cost of generalization mostly women have demanding roles to play back at home too, as mothers, wives, essentially home makers and hence the balancing act is so much more difficult and grueling when managing a high stress job like PR, how does one handle that.
Garima Sharma, PR consultant

Expert Advice...

Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies

 “I would personally disagree on the notion of a rule book that is different for men and women.  I feel and many of my female colleagues would agree that it would be condescending for a woman to be offered a rule book or conditions that are different from her male colleagues. In current times, the corporate world is progressively moving towards an era of gender equality, which is so amazing.  Leading large teams with significant number of women in it, I have realized that women colleagues are as equipped as their male counterparts to deliver under ambiguous or stretched situations.

Having said that, I do agree that women have a challenging role to play when it comes to managing a home and career. However, that in current times can apply to a male colleague as well. Why only PR, for any professional, there are challenges beyond work life and one has to make choices in terms of prioritizing what’s important for self. As one grows into more senior positions, with it comes added responsibilities. Imagine a scenario of cross border functions. It could demand very difficult hours whether for men or women. I strongly believe there are requirements of a role that are gender neutral. One should choose careers and profiles knowing what the future of that role demands and what priorities one has set for himself or herself.

I think a lot of organizations have tried and successfully alleviated some of these problems by introducing policies around flexi hours, work from home and many more that can be easily availed. Gender sensitivity workshops for creating empathy across genders and setting up of employee groups have also helped create internal support systems. Going forward these are going to be the differentiators for organizations seeking the right talent to fuel their growth.”

Kunal Kishore Sinha, founder director, Value 360 Communications

“Yes, it is true that women may have to balance a lot more in terms of priorities juggling multiple roles at home and the workplace. However, this is not stopping them from sticking to their ambition. Flexihours, work from home, virtual workspaces and offices with crèche facilities have today become a viable reality in order to accommodate women professionals.

The success mantra as well as ratio differs between men and women mostly because of the socially accepted parameters that are used to judge this success. So a man is thought to be successful if he is at an enviable position at the workplace with a fat pay cheque and steady promotion while a woman is deemed to be successful only when she is able to master the art of balancing a healthy and well-functional home and family aligned with her career. It will take a lot of time to change this mindset as it is rooted in the traditional idea or perception of the woman as the ideal caregiver. These days, women themselves are breaking this stereotypical mindset by often choosing to remain single in order to give their careers a boost. My personal opinion is that it is wiser to leave it to one’s personal choice to excel in what he/she feels passionately about irrespective of gender.”

I feel that women have already broken the ceiling in PR in India. The bigger challenge is how to get PR a place in the boardroom. Your views?
Priya Badshah, head of corporate communications, UBM India

Expert Advice...

Sonia Dhawan, DGM: marketing & PR at Paytm

“Great Brands and great business leaders understand what the real strength of Public Relations is. Take Steve Jobs for example. PR played a critical role inside the board room and Apple is worth billions of dollars. With the expertise and thorough know how of the industry, the market and the media, PR helps in making well-crafted strategic boardroom decisions which are elementary in creation of a personal connect between the brand and the end consumer.

So far, for leadership in majority of the organisations, PR is considered a mere complimentary tool for announcements and crisis control. Also, this is where the parameters of performance get limited to AVEs. Of course, the horizon of communication is skewed and not many dare to cross the boundaries and go beyond the conventional.

PR has long been a minuscule vertical within marketing however, I took this challenge as an opportunity and utilized it strategically to build the brand. Building a successful brand from scratch, establishing its core identity and positioning it the right way needs well concerted efforts across multiple fronts. It is this foundation itself, upon which our communication strategy has been built.”

Kunal Kishore Sinha, founder director, Value 360 Communications

 “PR is a domain that has always found an even if not greater representation when it comes to women. I know and have worked with several women who are now in leading positions in this field as both head honchos of PR firms as well as in C-suite roles. A few years ago, there was this debate about how even though a majority of the employees in a PR firm tended to be women, the leadership positions had little room for them. However, with the significant rise in women being able to hold onto their professional careers for a longer duration, successfully balancing their personal lives and attaining vital years of experience in this field, there’s no stopping them from occupying senior positions across the corporate sphere. Having seen their ability to multi-task, communicate with empathy and social skills even in the face of crisis, I can vouch for this trend being a positive one.”

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