1. How is the #MeToo movement impacting the brands and the future of advertising?
At the core of it, the #MeToo movement is all about empowerment and creating a high decibel platform for the otherwise unheard & marginalized voices of women, enabling them to reach out to a larger audience without feeling victimized. For brands and organizations alike, it’s important to ensure that their communication, both internal and external, resonates a balanced and fair view, and are not discriminatory or sexually prejudiced in any which way, which might significantly hamper their image and equity in the long-run. In the wake of #MeToo movement, the communication whether it’s ATL, BTL or TTL needs to stay clear of any underlying message that goes against the grain and creates negative, stereotypical biases among the audience. A single error of judgment could prove fatal for the brand in this highly connected digital world, where brands are created and tarnished overnight.
2. Has the #MeToo movement in any way changed how you view things at your workplace or any changes in policies or workshops on awareness?
The #MeToo movement has brought about a lot of awareness around an individual’s ‘rights and responsibilities’ within an organization, both in India and globally, not just for us. This issue can no longer be sidelined, as it has gripped the corporate world at-large, and made organizations take a hard look at their policies around sexual discrimination & harassment. More and more organizations are adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards the issue, considering the irreparable damage it could cause to the brand. The HR leaders within organizations have been further empowered to drive the message across all levels within the organization, and have in many cases setup Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and are conducting workshops on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. While this is not entirely a new phenomenon, and has been mostly relegated to the periphery in the past, it’s gained sufficient impetus after the #MeToo movement.
My personal view on this, is that we cannot generalize that this issue is prevalent and rampant in all organizations. However, the renewed awareness and focus around it would make the workplace a much safer environment for women to work in, and would encourage more women to step-in to the corporate world. At the core of it organizations would need to help instill a culture of respect and trust among employees.
3. Has there been any other social cause or movement or maybe even a protest that created waves in your field?
4. What advice would you give to young women who have just started their careers?
My advice to young women joining the workforce would be to first and foremost get an understanding around the ‘rules and policies’ governing the organization which they wish to join. They need to get a purview to the company’s ‘corporate governance’ standards, which spells out their practices around ethical conduct towards all their stakeholders, which includes their employees. Also, they need to understand the company’s culture towards aspects such as ‘diversity & inclusion’, which will help the individual gain perspective on the organizations stand towards sensitive issues – like, is there a discrimination on the basis of factors such as religion, age, gender, ethnicity, race, physical and mental ability.
Most importantly they will need to validate and examine for themselves, if the organization practices Gender Diversity in its true spirit, which could be ascertained through conversation with alumni, past employees or through online platforms like Glassdoor etc. to understand the company’s work culture. Finally, my advice to young women is that they should be bold and confident enough to stand for their own rights, and to never hesitate to seek professional counsel and guidance when deemed necessary.
5. What is your personal opinion about #MeToo?
#MeToo movement has encouraged many women to come forward and share their experiences who otherwise would never have felt comfortable enough to open up publicly. The veil of stigma attached around this issue has now been lowered. The tide is turning favorably towards the numerous, voiceless women. However, we cannot comfortably sit back and expect social media to go to trial, and much more needs to be done. The larger question is – how do we keep the momentum going, much after the outcry around this issue fizzles down?
It’s heartening to see that with more and more organizations adopting zero-tolerance towards this issue, we will see safer work environments, free from discrimination on any ground and from harassment at work.