The W Suite | Women are equally capable of leading large Organisations: Valerie Pinto

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.  

As the Head of Weber Shandwick India, Valerie Pinto works closely with clients across the country to change traditional models of communication towards more integrated offerings with a focus on campaigns, creativity, and content. Under her leadership, the firm continues to be one of the most awarded firms in the country. 

How would you define today’s woman leader?
Today’s woman leader would have qualities that any great leader is required to have. A vision and a clear path on how to achieve it, the ability to inspire her colleagues, be able to multitask, and come up with unique creative solutions. 

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
To be able to navigate successfully through today’s business ecosystem, a woman leader should be assertive and have faith in her ability. A curious mind and knowledge about what’s happening in the world, definitely helps! 

Read More: The W Suite | Strategy without execution is hallucination: Anita Kotwani

Despite the qualifications, aptitude and experience, why do you think we don’t see the expected number of women business leaders, especially when it comes to boardroom decision-making?
Women are gifted decision makers and are now taking over the world. In the past, due to economic and cultural reasons they might not have been in the forefront, in certain countries, but I’d like to believe that this is all changing now. 

What more do Indian corporates need to do to encourage and groom women leaders?
Women are equally capable, if not more, to lead large organisations. Recruiting more women in leadership roles is a start. 

Also, creating employee friendly policies –such as flexible working hours – can help women balance their personal and professional lives effortlessly. 

According to you, what are the Do’s and Don’ts for today’s women to break through the glass ceiling?

  • Trust your intuition
  • Work hard
  • Continue challenging the status quo
  • Do not let self-doubt and opinions bring you down

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?
It would be a lie to say that no gender pay gap exists today; we all have to come together to create a more equal playing field. 

There are so many great examples to seek inspiration from. In Iceland, It has been illegal for decades, for jobs that are worth the same, to pay people differently because of gender. The world is moving to a new reality, and India shouldn’t be behind. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
I don’t think it’s fair to stereotype a particular gender, but I can say that I have plenty of friends – men and women – who make fantastic leaders. It depends on the individual, their experience and leadership style. 

What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?

  • Believe in yourself
  • Choose to see the positive in every situation
  • Never underestimate the power of creativity
  • Stay curious
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?
For me, all aspects of my life are equally important – whether professional or personal. I have been lucky to have gotten plenty of support from my friends and family, which has helped me achieve more in my career. 

We have 24 hours in a day, and with effective time management, everything is possible! 

How prevalent are the instances of sexual harassment in work places in India? What should the industry collectively do to tackle such a serious issue?
Like two sides of a coin, while sexual harassment is a reality in India, there are also a lot of people who are coming together to fight against it. 

At Weber Shandwick, we have a zero tolerance policy towards any discrimination or harassment. As an industry, we can start by talking about it more, get rid of the taboo associated with harassment, create more awareness, put stringent policies in place, and make the reporting process (of cases) easy and accessible to all.


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