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Goafest 2022: How to ensure equal participation of women in workforce

Facilitated by Rohit Ohri, Chairman & CEO of FCB India, the chat brought forth the take of industry leaders and experts on the question of providing equal and just opportunities for every gender

What are the various problems which women face when it comes to getting equal opportunities in the advertising sector and how can this change in the days ahead to ensure that gender of an individual doesn’t hinder his/her growth prospects? These were the leading questions discussed in the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion panel held on day three of Goafest 2022.

The panellists in the fireside chat were Suhela Khan, Country Program Manager, We Empower Asia, UN Women; Rohit Ohri, Chairman and CEO FCB India; Rathi Gangappa, CEO, Starcom India; and Dheeraj Sinha, CEO and Chief Strategy Officer - South Asia, Leo Burnett.

Ohri facilitated the chat and discussed various issues faced by the women gender when it comes to getting equal opportunities. The power-packed panel spoke about various ways in which Diversity, Equality and Inclusion can be imbibed in organisations across the board.

When asked about the Asia Pacific region, which has the most diverse and also major issues, Khan said that gender stereotypes and biases toward women make them steer away from the opportunities. She said, “Men are preferred over women. Women globally spend 3.5x more time on unpaid care work and in India it is 10x more. Image how this impacts their contribution to the workforce and in economic socio-political activities? Today the women labour force participation is only 19-20% and it is declining with time.”

Ohri then asked what changes companies need to make to encourage the three main topics of the chat, and the resulting impact companies see when women have leadership roles? Rathi answered, “Look at AAAI, after a gap of 35 years, they have Anupriya Acharya, the first woman on board. That is proof of how times are changing. For companies, it is first about wanting to make the change. It's just not about getting women but giving competent opportunities to women and giving them a fair chance.”

Sinha answered the question of how does the advertising industry push people toward diversity, equality and inclusion? He said, “We have to change the archetypes, the whole idea of ‘Mad Men’, that men can have their way in life. In our industry we ideate post working hours and that is a problem for many women, we lose great talent when they get started with their families, so how do we keep this talent? So, organisations have to make changes in their work culture.”

“With our storytelling and creativity, we can impact society. Recently we initiated a conversation again through the sanitary napkin brand, Whisper.”

Khan further stated that companies should adopt the “Women empowerment principle”, a set of 7 rules to change small things that promote a culture of comfort, enable women and promote inclusivity.

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