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International Women's Day: PR agency heads on how they inspire inclusion at work

International Women's Day: PR agency heads on how they inspire inclusion at work

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International Women's Day (IWD) is coming up on 8 March and this year, the campaign theme is 'inspire inclusion'. 

"When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world," it said. "And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment."

In McKinsey's 2023 'Women in the Workplace' report, it found that since 2015, the number of women in the C-suite has increased from 17 to 28 per cent, and the representation of women at the vice president and senior vice president levels has also improved significantly. Additionally, women represent roughly one in four C-suite leaders.

It also found that women are becoming more ambitious with nine in ten women under the age of 30 want to be promoted to the next level, and three in four aspiring to become senior leaders. Roughly 80 percent of women want to be promoted to the next level, compared with 70 percent in 2019.

Don't miss: International Women's Day: Media agency heads on how they inspire inclusion at work 

In honor of IWD, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE decided to sit down with some of our female leaders that head up the biggest public relations (PR) agencies in Singapore to find out more about how they lead and how they inspire inclusion in their workplace.

Lina Marican, regional managing director, Mutant Communications

Profile photo of Lina Marican

1. What is your biggest insecurity about yourself in the industry?

Imposter syndrome was a huge one for me. I remember questioning myself when I initially got approached to speak on panels or at events. I even turned down a promotion at Mutant when Joseph Barratt, our CEO, first floated the idea of stepping up to lead the company at a regional level. Fortunately, the job was still there when I felt more confident to take it on.

Now, I’m quick to recognise it in myself and other female colleagues and encourage them to believe in themselves. I’m extremely proud that 70% of our leadership team is female, and collectively we continue to break barriers and biases.

2. What is your one guiding principle as a female leader 

My purpose is to inspire and empower my team to be the best versions of themselves.

3. How do you inspire inclusion in your workplace?

At Mutant, I focus on breaking down structural barriers, while fostering an inclusive mindset and culture. Any agency team is only as good as its people - and when we put our Mutants first, we see engaged, loyal teams who grow with us and drive client excellence with passion. Of course, I do need to walk the talk myself as a role model to younger colleagues.

Emily Poon, President, Ogilvy Public Relations and Influence, Asia

1. What is your biggest insecurity about yourself in the industry?

I often get asked, “How do you do it all - juggle family, work, parenting, and life as a working mum?” My response to that has been, “I can’t have it all. I constantly have to make choices on where I focus my time and energy each day with sacrifices made along the way. To help me along, I have a great partner and an ecosystem of support.” I do think that women have been conditioned through societal norms that they need to “do it all” and juggle everything perfectly.

On bad days, when I feel I’m barely doing anything justice, the anxiety of “not being enough” does creep up and takes the joy out of what I do. That’s when I have to be conscious about not needing to do it all but to take things one at a time, enjoy the process and have fun along the way.

2. What is your one guiding principle as a female leader?

My guiding principle as a leader is to be kind and good to everyone. At the end of the day, we won’t work forever, but we will be humans our whole life, so be a good one. 

3. How do you inspire inclusion in your workplace? 

Model the behaviours we want to see.

Each woman’s choices and behaviours have a powerful effect on those around her, women can empower each other for success. We can only be what we can see.

Throughout my life, I have benefitted enormously from both female and male sponsors who have guided and supported me throughout. This is why I firmly believe in executive sponsorship. Sponsors are people who serve as cheerleaders to champion others through their careers and life stages, and importantly, show how it can be done – through the highs and lows of one’s journey. So, I encourage everyone to find a sponsor and be one.

We have a great annual program at Ogilvy – 30 for 30 – to identify our rising stars, fast-track their growth and match them to sponsors in the company. Alumnae from the program then “pay it forward” and serve as sponsors to the next generation of talent.

Manisha Seewal, president, Redhill

Profile photo of Manisha Seewal
  1. What is your biggest insecurity in the industry?

My biggest insecurity is getting complacent and not continuing to learn. Complacency hinders innovation, limits learning, and stalls progress. The marketing world is dynamic so I intentionally keep a heightened sense of curiosity by keeping up with the latest trends and asking– why does this matter?

This was the reason why I just finished upskilling myself through with an intense seven-month sustainability course from the Singapore Management University. With increasing awareness of environmental and social issues, organisations across various industries are prioritising sustainability initiatives. This has resulted in a growing need for experts who can effectively communicate these efforts to stakeholders.

By equipping myself with these new skills, I am staying relevant.

  1. What is your one guiding principle as a female leader?

Make tough decisions but do it with kindness first.

3. How do you inspire inclusion in your workplace?

To foster inclusion in the workplace, we attract talent with diverse perspectives and prioritise open communication.

Some examples at Redhill are monthly Global Scrum meetings where employees around the world dial in and share updates at a country level (Japan, India, Middle East, Australia, UK, Germany, USA, SE Asia). They share one thing they are proud of, one challenge they faced and one interesting thing about their culture. It helps create a sense of inclusion as we learn interesting things such as media challenges faced by our Japan team when organising a launch event in a tier-two city or the importance of X (formerly Twitter) in reaching journalists in the US market.

“Coffee with Manisha” – is also a fortnightly one on one session open to all Redhill employees. They can ask me anything about the company or just bounce off ideas.

We also offer unlimited leave to all our Singapore employees.

Join us this coming 24 - 25 April for #Content360, a two-day extravaganza centered around four core thematic pillars: Explore with AI; Insight-powered strategies; Content as an experience; and Embrace the future. Immerse yourself in learning to curate content with creativity, critical thinking, and confidence with us at Content360!

Related articles:  
How the ad industry can nurture more women in leadership 

How women can get ahead in an AI-driven workplace
A majority of Asian women feel unrepresented in ads, how can adland lend its support? 

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