It has been more than a 100 years since the first 'Women's Day' was celebrated in 1913. United Nations (UN) recognised it for the first time in 1975.
Although brands and individuals go into an overdrive on 'Women's Day' across media and social media not much seems to have changed. Typically working 'multiple shifts’ in countries across the world, women continue to juggle various roles and are expected to be good at all. Workplaces form a microcosm of the society, presenting the same set of challenges women encounter in other facets of life. Wage gap and gender inequality remain issues to be handled.
Connected to India (CtoI) spoke to Natasha Mudhar, CEO and MD of a UK based communications consultancy, Sterling Media to discuss issues women face at workplace.
A strong campaigner and regular commentator on women empowerment, Natasha is based in London. She is also the India Director of Project Everyone supported by the United Nations and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched to popularise the Global Goals for sustainable development to end poverty by 2030. India director for Jamie Oliver food foundation to liaison with corporates, governments, media and celebrities to spotlight double nutrition burdens.
Natasha is breaking the internet with the explosive release of the remake of the Spice Girls Wannabe video for the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development campaign or lobbying governments to end world hunger.
One of the disabilities women have to deal with is the existence of a ‘glass ceiling’ – or a level from where they find it difficult to rise to higher positions. CtoI spoke to Natasha about the challenges and opportunities for women in the corporate world.
CtoI: What are the challenges female entrepreneurs/business leaders face?
Natasha Mudhar: Even though London is a multi-cultural and cosmopolitan city, when I started my career it was not very common to see highly successful Indian females in the communications sector. Also, the media sector was and still is quite male-dominated. So I guess it was a case of double discrimination.
These factors may seem intimidating for a starter but they were also my drivers. The same went for my mother – she always converted challenges into opportunities.
As for my Indian heritage, ironically I faced the most amount of discrimination from Indian peers and clients who, because of my Indian heritage, had the perception that I only worked with clients of Indian origin or that my work only extended to the Indian Diaspora!
But again, I have used this as an opportunity. As an Indian at heart, born and brought up in London, I have experienced and communicated India’s success story through both an international and national lens.
CtoI: Please tell us about the Global Goals campaign - the challenges and the opportunities; the power that brands bring to encourage social change.
Natasha Mudhar: I believe in the power of communications to uplift a brand. Being a brand power expert myself, I believe that brand visibility has reached a phenomenal level in an increasingly globalised world. As macrocosmic implications continue to connect brands to the world, it is more imperative than ever to ensure a brand’s messaging. Campaigns require being more globally aware and confining oneself to regional boundaries is a liability. While this ethos is great for a brand’s equity value, it also means that campaigns and marketing strategies need to speak to an ever-wider potential audience and connect with them in their respective socio-cultural and linguistic codes.
Hence my vision is to bring the brands I work with closer to their purpose. My passion is to work with brands globally, and I especially enjoy promoting those brands which need that extra lift. I believe in cause-related marketing and strives for the interests of the ethnic minority communities in the UK as well as globally.
My future plans are committed to championing global issues pertaining to poverty, good health, gender equality and quality education specifically, and convening our rolodex of contacts and areas of expertise across media, celebrity, government and corporate sectors to create impact. I recently took on the role of India Director for an initiative conceived by renowned filmmaker and charity activist Richard Curtis, The Global Goals campaign for Sustainable Development. The campaign, conceived in collaboration with the United Nations, aims to promote The Global Goals for Sustainable Development to the seven billion citizens of planet Earth. And it is my mission to make these goals reach out to 1.27 billion Indians.
CtoI: What’s your take on the changing perceptions and mindset for young businesswomen internationally/equality in the workplace?
Natasha Mudhar: When I started my career, it was not very common to see highly successful Indian females in the communications sector. Also, the media sector was and still is quite male-dominated. These factors may seem intimidating for a starter but they were also my drivers.
In terms of gender equality in the workplace, strides have been made but even in the Western world, inequalities still exist in terms of there being a limited number of women holding top tier positions within companies right through to the ongoing issue of gender pay gaps.
Gender equality can only be achieved when everyone, irrespective of being a woman or a man have access and enjoy the same rewards, opportunities and resources. It’s not about special rights but having equal rights. The aim of gender equality should be to achieve the same outcomes for both genders for the same level of work. We need to redefine leadership qualities so that these qualities don’t look gendered anymore. And hopefully, this will ensure we have a more diverse pool of talents across all levels of work.
CtoI: What message you would give to young female entrepreneurs?
Natasha Mudhar: My advice would be to create value in what you do to avoid feeling your career is meaningless.
Work hard. Know your strengths and always surround yourself with a team that brings out the best in you. Never underestimate the power of initiative and innovation. Embrace fully the role of change agents, focus more on the ‘can’ and the ‘why not’ – a positive outlook goes a long way.
Make sure you set yourself goals towards what you want to accomplish in your career so that you don’t lose focus and can see where you’re making progress.
Above all never forget that you can be a change maker!