When we talk about women who’ve made it to the top ranks in the corporate world — those who’ve managed to break that proverbial glass ceiling — we often look at them as these lone rangers, the exceptions, the oddball cases of success. But what sets FM radio station, Radio City’s CEO, Apurva Purohit, apart, is that she’s also holding out a hand to all those other women who aspire to climb the corporate ladder.
She’s not giving them an extra edge, a soft squishy corner in her heart, though. The tough CEO, in her book Lady You’re Not a Man! The Adventures of a Woman at Work, talks of how she has “equal expectations out of women”. “While organisations are doing enough (to help women employees), it is equally important for women to step up and share responsibility of growing their own careers,” says Apurva. In her own organisation, she says three of the six HODs are women. “Since the middle level is quite robust, it naturally helped us create a pipeline for senior women leaders to emerge.”
In Radio City, as in much of the media industry, there’s a high entry rate of women — around 40 per cent. “However, unlike other organisations and industries, where the dropout rate at the middle level is very high with the proportion of women falling to 15 per cent, when marriage and family take precedence, at Radio City we have a significant proportion of women at the middle-manager level (around 34 per cent).”
This high retention she attributes to various women-friendly policies, including flexi-timing, mentoring of women going through a difficult period of balancing young babies and work, and showcasing of internal role models who have managed the work-life balance brilliantly.
Apurva stresses that it’s important to create an environment and culture where women feel safe and empowered. “It’s not only about policies, it is also about how you make your women employees feel; that they are as good as the males around them.” For that to happen, Apurva believes you should treat women on par and have the highest levels of expectations from them. “So while we will support women during those few years when they are starting a family etc, beyond that, we expect women to put in as much effort as their male colleagues, and therefore get evaluated on exactly the same parameters as their male counterparts, with no latitude given.”
One of the biggest challenges women face, and which they believe is an impediment to growth, is a lack of time to network. Apoorva set up Women@Work (www.womenatwork.co.in), an online mechanism for women to get in touch with each other and connect while at their desks.
She likes to bust the myth that successful women have had special privileges. “I strongly believe that everyone has the same circumstances and deals with the same issues; successful women have just worked harder, didn’t give up, and decided they want both – a successful career and a fulfilling home life. They refused to accept it is as an either/or situation. We are all products of the choices we make — whether we want to be the victim or heroine of our story