Be authentic. You don’t have to act like a man to succeed: Rakhee Lalvani

As Vice President, PR & Corporate Communications, Diversity and Inclusion, at Indian Hotels Company Ltd, she is not only an inspiration but also in a position to bring about real change.

We catch her just as she readies to take on a new consulting role at IHCL — as Vice President PR & Corporate Communications, Diversity and Inclusion. This is a position that has been created to specifically address the company’s needs in this domain and foster a more enabling environment for the work force.

Rakhee lalvani, taj group, ihcl, international womens day,
IHCL now has an all-woman team at Taj Wellington Mews in Chennai, and the new Ginger hotel at Mumbai’s Santacruz was constructed solely by female engineers. Lalvani says there’s a lot more in the offing.

After three decades across various sectors in the hospitality space, and heading PR and Corporate Communications globally for IHCL for the last 12 years, this is a new and exciting phase of life for Lalvani. She believes that although things have changed a lot since she started studying hotel management in 1992, there still remains a lot more that can be done.

Read more on International Women’s Day.

Being sensitive and empathetic is not a bad thing at all, lalvani points out. | rakhee lalvani, taj group, ihcl, international womens day,
Being sensitive and empathetic is not a bad thing at all, Lalvani points out.

“There are only 12 per cent of women in the tourism sector in India and, if you go to the senior management level, it comes down to only two to three per cent. This has to change,” she asserts. And while the group already offer seven months maternity leave and creches for staff in every single hotel, she is keen to create a more encouraging environment for returning mothers, thus working on retention of female employees. “We want more women chefs, women general managers, women in every department. Women are just as capable,” she observes.

She shares her own experiences and admits that sometimes when you reach a position of influence or power it can be hard to get your voice heard. “At the same time, if you’re loud and outspoken, you are labelled aggressive. If you’re the shy and sensitive type, then you’re emotional. It’s annoying to be typecast as either,” she avers.

Nevertheless, Lalvani is vocal about not losing your femininity in the journey to the top. She believes that if you are authentic, you will be respected for it.

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