Celebrating the contributions of women this International Women’s Day, exchange4media is hosting a women’s day series highlighting the journey and accomplishments of women leaders. In the special edition today, Preetha Athrey, Head of Marketing, Twitter India, outlines the contribution of women leaders in building a sustainable future, challenges by them, the opportunities and experiences it brings and more.
Q1. What are your thoughts on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’? According to you, how can women leaders and workers in the formal space create a sustainable future?
Gender equality plays a pivotal role in building a sustainable, equal and just future. It’s not just a woman’s right; it impacts every single one of us. And the fact that we are talking about this even in 2022, clearly establishes that there is still a lot of work to be done. While it is a long road ahead, women are being championed and celebrated as founders, creators, and developers, creating lasting effects on equity in the workplace. ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ is a thought-provoking theme and is integral and inseparable towards building a stronger tomorrow. Empowering women and girls to have a voice and be equal players is essential for our progress and leaders across the board need to come together to bridge the biases.
We are seeing a growing sense of empowerment and strengthened allyship in the workplace today and culturally, we’re becoming more engaged and open to having discussions on this topic. We observed the same in the Twitter Trends India 2021 report, where we saw an 84% growth in many diverse conversations, ranging from finding what value for us, our identity, potential, and standing up for what we believe in.
Change is in our own hands and we need to be the catalysts. From gender discrimination to pay inequality, women are coming together to readdress socio-economic disadvantage in the domains of work, well-being and access to resources. We’ve also seen a surge of 48% in conversations about ‘women potential’ on Twitter in India, in the past year and a half.
With access to information and increased, more and more people are underscoring the role each one of us can play on a daily basis to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, and collectively create a world with more dignity and broader opportunities for all.
Q2. What is your idea of a gender-just workplace? Please draw from your own experiences to share how a supportive work environment helped you attain your goals?
Gender just does not only mean gender equality, it is a true celebration of every single individual where everyone has equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. We as humans are diverse and we need to encourage and promote this diversity as this will lead to a more inclusive and creative workplace.
When we bring together different individuals with different opinions and celebrate this individuality and diversity, it creates multiple opportunities for learning which leads to simple, impactful, remarkable solutions.
At Twitter, we believe representation matters and we have laid the groundwork to continue diversifying our supply chain, elevated historically-excluded communities that use Twitter, and launched an Inclusive Marketing program. This year, we have selected “Lift as we rise” as the theme for our 2021 Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Report because, throughout our journey, progress has required that we never lose sight of the people and communities for whom we do this work. We are focused on cultivating a truly inclusive environment across teams and regional geographies–– with our world-class Business Resource Groups at the centre. And while we’ve got a lot of work left to do, we’re proud of our progress in 2021.
As women, we go through a lot to get to where we are. We have to manage ambiguity, we need to multi-task – keeping in mind we might have additional family responsibilities. In a sense, it’s not entirely a level playing field. But these experiences and an empathetic and equal environment help us to be more compassionate, resilient and bring a certain level of self-awareness and emotional attunement to the table.
We need to be cognizant of the environment we operate in, which can at times be stressful. I try to remind myself that everyone cannot be perfect all the time and it is fine to embrace these challenges, which can make it all the more exciting and better.
Working moms have it tougher. Being fully committed to both work and family is a challenging task that working moms have to take on. It can be exhausting and right now given everyone’s working from home, things are even more blurry. Speaking from my experience, I think it’s important for women to look after their well-being, and actually schedule family time and time for themselves. I also try to share the housework and childcare with my husband and rely on my family for support. It is impossible for one person to do everything, so I try to be forgiving to myself and omit the instinct to be perfect. Clutter, chaos and noise come with the territory so embrace it!
Self-care is extremely important. We have to switch off from all devices and just do that one thing that makes us happy and brings us joy. Sometimes we forget about ourselves and keep focusing on everyone else, but we need to make time for ‘me’ time and not feel guilty about it. And this in return will give rise to better satisfaction at the workplace. People are more acknowledging this too as we’ve observed a rise of 88% in conversations on Twitter related to’self-care’ alone in the past year and a half.
Q3. Which women have been your strongest supporters and role models (both personally and professionally)?
I have had many positive influences in my life and career who have played a major role in my growth, and have inspired me to aim higher and never give up. Be it my parents, my grandmother or the fierce women leaders with whom I have the privilege to work with, each and every one of them has played a major role in shaping me into the person I am today. My team has a special place in my heart, I learn from them every day, they energize me, keep me motivated, fuel my mind and I am thankful for their support.
Q4. How are women in the marketing world reshaping the course of the industry?
The world has seen a seismic shift in the past two years and leaders have had to evolve and adapt their leadership styles to address this changing need. Empathy, open communication and being the pillar of support is now more important than ever. As a woman leader, I feel we are becoming empathetic and flexible in our approach and leading with purpose.
Life experiences have made us natural multi-taskers and great listeners. Today, more than ever women across the board are gaining more confidence to share their views, state opinions and take credit for their contributions. One of the most visible ways wherein women have taken a leading role and brought about change is through thought leadership. Women are fast becoming champions of other women in the workplace by offering encouragement and guidance to help other women rise.
Supporting true individuality and diverse thinking is critical and female leaders provide distinct perspectives that promote the idea of acceptance and in turn induce confidence.
While we have seen progress, women genuinely need to believe that businesses are committed to seeing them progress, provide them with the support they need to do so and reward them for putting themselves forward.
Q5. How do you see women’s representation in Indian advertising (both on and off screen)?
The primary job of advertising is to market products and services, but, along the way, it also creates important cultural messaging that influences society. Representation of women in advertising has shifted progress but while we have made steady we still have a long way to go. What is going to be crucial for the industry as we move forward, is to truly believe in and embrace this inclusivity not just of women but individuals as a whole. We need to be genuine, authentic and consistent in all aspects of business and communication with a more gender-equal outlook. I believe as an industry, we are in the process of shedding stereotypes and if we try hard enough, one day, we might bring about a change.
Q6. What is your advice to the young women who are either working in or planning to join your industry?
- Victories, no matter how small, should be celebrated. Grassroots heroes are often regular people doing extraordinary things — and we love them for it.
- Everyone’s experience is unique. It’s important to shed light on the broad spectrum of coexisting experiences, and not only share yours but listen to others too.
- We need to encourage women to come back from a break and make them feel welcomed. We also need to place our trust in women, support and help them grow. As a woman leader, that is the kind of leadership I believe in.
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