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FCB Jakarta’s Sony Nichani on women supporting each other in leadership roles

Sony Nichani, managing director of FCB Jakarta is known to be hands on in every thing she does. Always one to enjoy being in the trenches with the team during the planning and development process, she is also very aware of when it is time for her to take a backseat and let her team’s magic take over.

This international women’s month, we sit down with Nichani to understand what her struggles are and where Indonesia’s ad land stands when it comes to the gender discourse.

Nichani tells us that in this industry, given women leaders are a minority, really need to watch out for each other more and go out of the way to encourage and support each other.

“It should be like sisterhood, a place where there are no judgments, and only the ability to honestly share your own experiences and challenges and help each other find their way. Behind every successful woman is really a tribe – find your own and support each other,” she said. Nichani added that irrespective of gender, empathy is very important all leaders need to have and says, once in a while “it’s okay to be emotional”.

“We are in the business of addressing emotions and work with people with different aspirations and ambitions, it’s really important to be yourself and lead with empathy rather than project something you are not,” she says. Read the rest of her story below:

Marketing Interactive: How progressive is Indonesia in gender diversity and equality?

From my observation, I see a healthy representation of women in key positions in both advertising and marketing roles in Indonesia. Also from what I hear, since the advertising practice evolved in this market, there has been a strong presence of women in key roles which helped shape the advertising, research and media industry in Indonesia.

But some statistics from BPS Indonesia, I read recently, indicated that women workforce participation is only around 52% versus men at 82%. So a lot of work needs to do correct this in various other industries to ensure diversity across.  Are we doing enough to make this a priority? That’s something as an industry we need to get together and solve for.

Marketing Interactive: Last year, the #MeToo movement took the world by storm. Did it have any impact in the local Indonesia adland?

In the local adland there was not much discussion around the topic which does not mean it does not exist. Our senior teams did sit down and discuss what other markets were experiencing and what we should do about it. We all are responsible for creating an environment where everyone in the office is protected.

Marketing Interactive: Are there any initiatives to empower women within/from your agency?

Recently FCB’s planning head, Imperia, participated in an interesting panel to discuss around empowering women in the creative economy”. The heartening point was there consensus on that real change would only be possible with increasing the number of women in roles of policy makers. Talk regarding infrastructure for breastfeeding working moms and flexible hours are top of everyone’s mind, but an implementation plan is not being seen through.

We also believe the work we put out there needs to challenge stereotypes and embrace today’s women and acknowledge her challenges. We actively work with clients in sending out work which is a true representation of women today and that is something as an industry we should take very seriously.

Another key initiative is from FCB globally, which has a great mentorship programme as a part of its “Leadership Initiative”, where you are paired with someone who has been through a similar journey in another market. It’s an organised process starting with a very deliberate mapping of mentor and mentee. This is really helpful for women where an exchange like this with senior women in the network can help you immensely and actively shape your career.

Marketing InteractiveWhat are some of the biggest challenges that female bosses face?

I feel independent of gender today. We do have a work-life balance challenge which our industry is facing. I believe women do feel a lot guiltier (when it comes to family, kid and life balance), but I see this impacting men equally.  It’s unfortunate but it is a reality in our business – which we need to fix. Attracting and retaining talent is another constant challenge that keeps me awake at night.

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