From the August 2009 WICT Wire

WICT PAR at Work: An Interview with Parthavi Das

 As the summer comes to a close, many WICT members are focusing on fall priorities.   WICT  is looking forward to fall changes- in the form of emerging trends and new opportunities for advancement resulting from analyzing this year’s PAR Initiative. 

WICT Interim President, Parthavi Das, sat down with us to talk about how WICT shapes the PAR analysis; and more importantly, how WICT uses the PAR analysis to shape future programs and refine current efforts to benefits our members.

A Continuing Conversation

PAR may appear to be a 6 month process, starting with the survey data collection in June and ending with the executive report release in November, but as Das explains, the PAR Initiative is more than just an annual survey. “The PAR Initiative is really WICT’s advocacy program. So it’s a year-round effort.”  The emerging trends and findings uncovered in the PAR process fuel powerful dialogue for WICT, WICT members and industry partners.

These conversations are focused on the issues WICT would like to further study. Das and the team at WICT work with Joanne Cleaver, PAR Initiative Manager, throughout PAR’s analysis phase to ensure, “that when she goes into the interviews, she will direct those questions according to what WICT wants to find out more about.”  Doing so ensures Cleaver is addressing the issues most important to WICT members and industry partners. 

At the same time, Cleaver also explores the questions the participating companies want answered.  This dialogue between WICT and each participating company carries on well past the release of the executive report. Such conversations include information on new company programs, a look at the success of past company initiatives, and actions that the company might take to recruit and retain top talent in the cable industry. “Since PAR measures policies and programs in the area of pay equity, advancement opportunities, and resources for work/life support, [companies] find out what they are doing well,” and in turn as Das points out “WICT suggests best practices from other companies that might work well for others.” 

PAR and Beyond

Das sees the best practices information that PAR provides for companies as being important to the industry because, as she so simply puts it, “women are important.”

“When you look at the numbers, women are the driving consumer in the U.S. economy. Women are making the household purchasing decisions,” she explains.  “They are the people choosing the service the family might be using …so it's really important to be sure you are considering your consumers.”

In fact, women are responsible for an estimated 80% of all spending decisions driving $12-$40 trillion through 2019, making them essential to the growth of cable products and services (Claire Behar, Senior Partner and Director, New Business Development, Fleishman-Hillard New York).  Participating PAR companies leverage their PAR data alongside industry best practices to design a roadmap that seizes top female talent and directs female customer loyalty to their organization.

PAR has never been more important, now that the country itself has a renewed focus on pay equity issues, according to Das. “We do have a new administration in place and we are seeing movement on different pieces of legislation [specific to pay equity],” Das explains.  “For a lot of our companies that have been participating in the PAR initiative, they have a lot of the required [pay equity] pieces already in place. So once this legislation passes they are already set.” 

The ongoing research conducted through the PAR Initiative has afforded WICT and its members great opportunities to collaborate with other leading organizations toward an equitable and resourceful workplace. WICT has worked with the likes of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the office of Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, and other notable associates.
 
Shaping the Future

WICT uses the information gained from the analysis process to not only guide the companies participating in the PAR Initiative, but to also align WICT’s programs to maximize the benefit to its members. As Das puts it, “If WICT is looking into launching a new initiative or a different product, the analysis phase allows WICT to communicate with companies to see if those products or initiatives will work for the membership as they move forward. Every year we take the research and see what we can grow and what we can feed back into our own programs.”

PAR also helps WICT develop its Call to Action for companies. “When we talk about the call to action,” Das states, “It's really about having companies look at where their female employees are, where they want to be, and how to approach two promotions ahead for that employee, what is the type of experience that they need to get to that next level. So they make sure they are getting rotation in management positions, the leadership training, and the financial experience, whatever the pieces are that company needs to have for that employee to continue to grow and advance in her career.”