The W-Suite | â€œNot enough support system for women to continue workingâ€
With a rapidly evolving business and economic landscape there is a dire requirement of fresh thinking, new skill sets, greater flexibility & adaptability, more collaboration as well as the ability to think on one’s feet.
Diversity in the workforce has become a necessity today, and more so in the leadership positions. It can’t be denied that women bring a high level of creativity and empathy while solving problems and handling crises. Women leaders bring to the table a different level of dexterity.
AdGully’s ‘The W-Suite’ series features interactions with influential women leaders in India, who share some deep insights on what being a woman leader means in India’s business landscape, the mantras to succeed, achieving work-life balance, pay parity and much more.
Swati Nathani, Chief Business Officer and Co-founder, Team Pumpkin, is the life and breath of the digital marketing agency. She is based in Mumbai and looks after Digital Marketing and PR wing of Team Pumpkin. She has a decade of experience in Retail Marketing, Branding, Operations, Research, Analytics and the Social Media.
Nathani truly understands the tremendous potential that digital world offers. Her aim is to make sure that Team Pumpkin utilises all the social media platforms in every possible way to leverage every opportunity for digital marketing.
Prior to her digital journey, she has witnessed emerging consumer class in India. She had been an active part of the core group at India’s largest retailer, Future Group’s Business Intelligence team and worked her way up to heading India Retail operations for global shoe brand Clarks. Nathani also garners the experience of working with the world’s leading consulting agency, McKinsey, for shaping Pantaloons’ strategy and implementation to enhance it as a profitable format.
Her work has been acknowledged and recognised by many in the industry. She was recognised as one of the 50 Most Talented Social Media professionals by CMO Asia. Due to her immense experience, she was also invited to be a panel member in COINS conference held in Singapore in 2016.
What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
A leader is a leader, let’s not be sexist (or feminist) here. A leader has to be capable of taking care and evolving the team. That’s how I define a leader.
Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
We as a society do not have enough support system for women to continue working, especially after having a baby. We obviously expect women to give birth to, and nurse a baby, but we do not necessarily have a corporate ecosystem that supports this process. This makes it a challenging task for women to raise children and giving their career an equal focus, and this is a reason we do not see many women at the top of the corporate ladders.
However, it’s wrong to say that we have a small number of women in top of their profession, because there are some professions where women majorly dominate the senior positions. Teaching, for example. We see most school principals and senior teachers to be women. So the point is, when the surroundings are conducive, women flourish in their professions.
Do you think women leaders are still scrutinized as much for style as for substance?
Personally, I have not faced any such discrimination, if you want to call it that way. I am sometimes complimented casually for my style sense, without anybody degrading my opinions and decisions.
Do you think leadership effectiveness of women is higher than of men? Why?
I personally don’t think that leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men, it may be better in certain scenarios, but at the same time it may be weaker in certain scenarios. When it comes to less of being a risk factor, I think, women are better decision makers and when it comes to aggressive, I find men to be better decision makers. And not being judgmental, I still believe that both are equally equipped to take decisions. And I don’t see any specific reason women have leadership effectiveness.
How do you maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? How frequently do you have to sacrifice one for the other?
Maintaining a balance is obviously not a choice, you have to maintain a balance whether you are man or woman. One has to fight a battle between career goals and family responsibilities. There is no denying the fact that I had to sacrifice a little bit of career goals because of my family and vice versa. And I think in today’s scenario it is given that you cannot have one without sacrificing the other.
Do you think pay parity exists in our corporates today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
Being the co-founder of a company, I truly believe that pay parity exists, at least in my Team Pumpkin, where people will not be paid based on their genders even at senior leadership levels. For that matter, I draw as much salary as my male counterpart. We ensure that this is maintained throughout.
What would be your advice to women aiming for the C-suite?
My only advice to women would be ‘Do Not Give Up!’ A lot of times we face certain situations which make you a little uncomfortable, we tend to give up a little easily in such situations. But ‘Do Not Give Up!’
This also reminds me of my favourite poem, ‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver. I would like to add few lines of her here:
One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began,
Though the voices around you
Their bad advice—
Though the whole house began to tremble
And you felt the old tug
At your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
Each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do.
These lines motivate and encourage me to keep going in life.
What, according to you, are the three important lessons new women leaders need to learn?
- To express yourself freely and do not be intimidated by the people around you who may not necessarily agree with whatever you say,
- Keep Going, Never Give Up – do not think you have an option of staying back at home.
- Stay Happy, that’s the most important thing. If you are not happy, you will not have a good family life, you will not have a good career. Therefore, staying happy is the most important thing.