Multinational corporation Procter & Gamble have consistently played their part in promoting gender equality through popular ad campaigns like Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad and the Gillette #ShavingStereotypes. On February 17th, the company took another concrete step towards making a change. At the #WeSeeEqual summit, CEO Madhusudan Gopal said they would “further accelerate” their progress through “a series of new actions, commitments and partnerships.”
The most significant announcement at the summit was P&G’s pledge towards equal representation of women directors in their ad films. Over the next three years, P&G aims to have an equal number of male and female directors for ad films across all their brands. This is a giant move given that filmmaking has forever been perceived as a male profession. Only now do we see more women behind the camera but it’s by no means a level playing field. This is a much-needed step in the right direction. Sharat Verma, Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President, Fabric Care, said, “We believe that having more women behind the camera will help the industry achieve a more accurate and unbiased portrayal of women in advertising.”
The theme of the summit was #Unsaid and #Undone and was attended by journalist Faye D’souza, filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, actors Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh, activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, tennis star Sania Mirza, UNESCO’s Huma Masood, and others. They spoke about how stereotypes associated with one’s gender play into all our lives in ways big and small. Film Companion editor and founder Anupama Chopra, who moderated the session, asked transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi about the portrayal of trans characters in Hindi films. Tripathi replied that members of her community have been stereotyped as dancers or prostitutes, or thrust in for comic relief. Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari added that the key now was to demand respect, rather than hope for it, and that would make “the difference between dreaming and doing”.
Sania Mirza too spoke out on biases against women in sport that continue to this today – like less prize money. She added that women are discouraged from voicing opinions, and that those who do are branded bossy or unfriendly.
The summit served as a launchpad for various new campaigns by the company. P&G’s work in raising awareness about menstrual hygiene has already impacted 4 crore girls and they aim to educate 2.5 crore more in the next three years. In the same period, P&G will spend Rs 300 crore to invest in and work with women-led businesses across the country, and also take numerous steps to increase opportunities for women in STEM. These include making use of the government’s NEEM mission at P&G plants to provide opportunities for girls from communities around the plants and partnering with over 150 colleges that offer STEM courses to ensure more female students take these subjects. In addition, a new policy will provide 8 weeks’ fully paid parental leave to all parents (biological/adoptive, partnered couples, same-sex couples) in addition to the existing 26 weeks’ leave for biological mothers and primary caregivers. With these crucial steps, the company is leading the way forward for any modern organisation.