India’s advertising industry needs more female ‘wolf packs’ to address internal challenges around harassment and inequality, an industry figure maintains, a development that could also produce better marketing communications.

Something of this sort already exists in the form of a group called The Collective, formed last year with the intention of making the work environment safer and better for women.

Tista Sen, regional creative director at Wunderman Thompson, South Asia, elaborated on this during a panel discussion at the recent Zee Melt conference in Mumbai.

“Twelve women from design and advertising came together to form it, we belong to different ad agencies and are therefore agency-agnostic,” she said. “We meet often and discuss issues we have read about and seen that women, even men, within ad agencies, digital agencies and design houses are beginning to feel uncomfortable.”

The Collective aims to collaborate with ad agencies and various industry bodies to raise awareness about sexual harassment at workplace and other issues that currently get swept under the carpet.

This move to form a support network for women in the industry echoes what Gayatri Sriram, digital creative head at the ad agency FCB Ulka, believes is the best solution to address issues of inequality: collaboration.

Sriram pointed to the concept of a ‘wolf pack’ as a powerful tool that women have at their disposal to combat key hurdles such as implicit bias, silence in the workplace and the ‘motherhood penalty’.

“What it does is to give you immediate access to intelligent and smart women, women who go through the same problems as you do and who have been there and done that,” she explained. (For more read, WARC’s report: A wolf pack for India’s women in advertising.)

“It can have a life-changing impact if you can open yourself, become honest and transparent, and allow yourself to connect with other women,” she added.

Addressing the internal workings of the industry is only the first stage in what is possible. Sen believes the endeavour can go beyond harassment to talk about how communication can be tailored to women, what one can and cannot do and basic hygiene issues about what is permissible and what is not.

Sourced from WARC