Williams Lea Tag joins the International Women’s Day #pressforprogress movement

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th March, Williams Lea Tag organised a series of Panel discussions globally to provide a platform to senior female leaders from across our business and our clients and partners to discuss their thoughts and experiences on diversity in the workplace.

Williams Lea Tag International Women's Day 2018 Panel Discussion
Moderator and Panelists from left to right: Martin Scrouther, Nicola Oldfield, Michelle Saddington, Hina Kotecha, Samantha Fan and Liz Hodson

Martin Scrouther, Managing Director Asia for Williams Lea Tag moderated the Hong Kong panel and posed questions to our esteemed panel of female leaders including:

Samantha Fan, General Manager – Head of Marketing and eBusiness HKTW, P&G
Michelle Saddington, Marketing and Communications Leader, EY
Nicola Oldfield, Group Managing Director, GHC Asia
Liz Hodson, Global Head of Commercial, Williams Lea Tag
Hina Wainwright, APAC Marketing Director & Global Head of Marketing, Williams Lea Tag

The panel was a candid and lively discussion of both experiences and advice that reflected the diverse industries, organisations and careers each of the panellists have had. A number of commonalities and differences in experience between the panellists created an interesting dialogue that focused both on regional diversity nuances in Asia and globally. Five overarching themes were valuable takeaways for everybody in attendance.

1. Diversity is strength

The definition of diversity varies from organisation to organisation, but what is so important is that businesses recognise that diversity in its many forms whether this is gender, race, ethnicity, or skillsets is a form of strength. Diversity broadens the pool of experience, and the inclusiveness of diverse viewpoints, perspectives and experiences in business creates stronger conclusions.

2. “Locker room” incidents still rife

Despite a large amount of progress being made in terms of equality and representation of female leaders, boards are still predominately male led and equality is seen more at the management level. A number of senior female leaders feel that they are unintentionally left out of the conversation when business decisions are being made at the pub or on the golf course. Human nature sees men and women habitually gravitate towards one another, with both “boys clubs” and “girls clubs” forming and conversation naturally taking place around these social scenarios. Businesses need to ensure the right conversations, with the right participants take place in the right forums. Business decisions should always be made in a business environment. When on the topic of advice for how to tackle “locker room” decision making, both genders need to speak up and call out occasions when they are excluded from the conversation and raise awareness of fair decision-making practices to avoid conscious or unconscious gender bias. 

3. Educating future male and female leaders

The issue of diversity should not just be reserved for discussion on International Women’s Day; it is an issue that needs to be consistently addressed throughout the year. It is the responsibility of today’s leaders to educate the leaders of tomorrow to ensure that we continue to press for progress and change the paradigm. Those in leadership feel a level of responsibility to those they represent to ensure that they support them and the diversity agenda at the board level. Progress will only be made when we are more supportive of one another across genders and only when we are united will we see systemic change.

4. Labels: emotion is not a bad thing

The panel discussed how often women are labelled differently to their male counterparts when it comes to certain characteristics. Women aren’t determined, they are pushy, women aren’t ambitious, they are competitive, women aren’t assertive, they are aggressive – these labels all have negative connotations that devalue women’s roles within the workplace and undermine confidence. Being emotional is often highlighted as a female characteristic in a negative manner, but there is actually strength in emotion. Being compassionate, understanding and having a passion are positive attributes for any team. Often vulnerability is perceived as a negative characteristic, but research suggests that the strongest leaders display this and it inspires trust and loyalty from those they lead.

5. Dealing with “imposter syndrome”

Self-doubt is an affliction a number of our panellists could relate. So called “imposter syndrome’ is the belief that you will get found out that you are not good enough for the job and this constant worry can last a lifetime. Women are more prone to self-doubt compared to their male counterparts. Women need to believe more in themselves and their abilities. Courage and determination were flagged as key characteristics to embody to help women be successful in business. Having the courage to speak up and use your authentic voice were cited as driving factors in all of the panellist’s career success.

The panel discussion was a fantastic forum to learn how successful female leaders of today have overcome diversity challenges and listen to advice they have on how we can continue to press for progress in the future. International Women’s Day is an important milestone each year that needs to be recognised and celebrated so businesses and individuals can continue to promote greater equality. As a company Williams Lea Tag was proud to be part of the conversation and will continue to support equality initiatives globally now and in the future.