The topic of the day was women leaders and the role that they play in shaping the future of modern marketing.
On the occasion of Women’s Day 2022, a group of women came together to talk about a pertinent topic in today’s corporate world - leadership. A webinar was organised by MMA in association with Kantar to talk about women leadership. More specifically, the topic of the discussion was centered around women leaders and the role that they play in shaping the future of modern marketing.
The webinar began with a presentation from keynote speaker Sapna Chaddha, vice president - marketing India, Southeast Asia and South Asia, Google Asia Pacific and MMA board member. She started by giving an example of an unexpected sport that had become more popular in the last decade - archery. She went on to explain that the reason this sport became more popular is because 7/10 girls were inspired by The Hunger Games’ character Katniss and Disney movie’s Brave’s Merida; both of whom are portrayed as skilled archers.
To glean more insights like this Google analysed over 2.7 million YouTube videos from the past five years, using machine learning and analysed gender representation in advertising. They found that male characters had almost 1.5x more screen time than female characters.
It was also found that women tended to feature more in ads for consumer packaged goods and 80 per cent of consumer spending is still influenced by women - which is because of a combination of buying power plus influence.
Chadha adds that the most pertinent question when it comes to representation of women in media is - are we doing enough? Though sports is a largely male dominated industry, Chadha tells the audience that she was pleasantly surprised to see the interest around the ongoing Women’s World Cup. Google’s latest ad also focuses on this tournament.
The next session was helmed by Preeti Reddy - the chairwoman of the Insights Division for South Asia at Kantar (she is also a MMA board member). Reddy is one of the most influential women in the media and marketing space in India and she stepped forward to talk about leadership requirements in the context of the ‘Reykjavik Index’ for leadership.
This survey measures the perceptions of equality for men and women in leadership positions. The Index itself measures how women and men are viewed in terms of their suitability for these leadership positions. The survey is conducted across 10 countries and the ultimate goal is to have a measure of 100 - which proves that men and women are equally suited for leadership roles.
The index in India currently shows that men have a score of 68 whereas women have a score of 69 - this means that by and large, men and women are perceived similarly in leadership roles. The difference in these numbers is much higher in other countries.
Reddy’s presentation further showed that there was only a small change in how women overall were represented in advertising from 2019-2020. Fashion and beauty were still largely seen as a woman’s domain as was child and baby care.
When surveying the society as a whole, it was found that 44 per cent of the women were more comfortable having a woman in a leadership role, say as a CEO, as opposed to 37 per cent of men who felt comfortable seeing women in these positions. The gap grows wider when it comes to political leadership - men don't feel comfortable seeing women in roles of political power, however, women feel more comfortable seeing women in roles of political leadership.
Once the keynote speakers had made their points, the final leg of the session began - a roundtable discussion, moderated by none other than afaqs!’ executive editor Ashwini Gangal. The roundtable consisted of women with considerable experience in the world of marketing and media.
This included Moneka Khurana (country head, MMA India), Rubeena Singh (country manager - Josh), Geetanjali Bhattacharji (Executive Director, Africa, India & Middle East | Advisory Services, EY, Preeti Reddy (the chairwoman of the Insights Division for South Asia at Kantar), and Sapna Chadha (Senior Country Marketing Director, Google India and South East Asia).
The roundtable discussion began with a question - do people do a disservice to themselves by adding a gender prism to things?
“People are afraid to discuss biases and call things out. But to develop neutral products, we need to acknowledge the bias to build products that everyone can use,” says Chadha.
When the panel was asked if there are biases against male and female leadership traits - Chadha replied that this had roots in women being seen as emotional - “but empathetic is not the same as being emotional.”
Rubeena Singh added that to be a successful leader one has to be both empathetic and collaborative. “While working with young people, you have to learn how to take them along. There are some leadership traits which are thought of to be more feminine - being inclusive, being collaborative, etc. Men also have to develop those traits,” she emphasised.
EY’s Bhattarcharji stresses that it's important to follow and learn from mentors in order to understand how to ask for more without sounding greedy or over ambitious. “Sensitising males to be allies to women is also equally important. Males at the workplace need to be conscious of microaggressions etc so they can make the workplace more comfortable for women.”
MMA’s Khurana adds that initially, digital marketing was a male dominated era. “There was a silent desire among women to be a part of this world. They came forward when they saw more women take space in this career. We need to encourage and build on that.”
Watch the full discussion below.
(Hero image by Brooke Lark via Unsplash)