#IWD2019: Challenges plaguing women in the industry that need addressing

Evonne Chung, managing director, Landor Singapore

Over the years, The International Women’s Day has rapidly gained prominence making it a special occasion for many global brands to show their love for female consumers and make a stand for gender equality.

Globally, according to Grant Thornton International’s Women in Business 2018 report, the percentage of businesses around the world with at least one woman in senior management has increased significantly. The number has risen from 66% in 2017 to 75% in 2018.

In Singapore however, while there have been a surge of female leaders across industry verticles, only 30% of women hold senior management roles compared to ASEAN’s average of 39%. As such, on this International Women’s Day, Marketing spoke to Evonne Chung, Managing Director, Landor Singapore about her views on being a female boss and the challenges that come with it.

What are the biggest challenges women in adland face?

Evonne Chung: “The industry is full of passionate and incredibly talented people, and as one might expect, folks with a point of view and a willingness to take a stand. I have sometimes heard that women struggle to get a word in and I had once been asked, “How do you make yourself heard?” If you’ve got a point to make, you make it. If you have a perspective and it’s one you care to defend, share it. We all have a responsibility to listen and to speak up.

The tangible, we can spot and correct. It’s unconscious bias that can go unseen and lead one to ‘yay or nay’ something, or someone, before giving considered thought. What may have fuelled this are the overt or subliminal cues around us. Communications have the power to shape perception. We have to be mindful of how we portray people and culture, and not default to negative stereotypes, whether this stereotype is around gender, age or background. At Landor, we absolutely focus on our people’s talent and person, rather than make assumptions based on gender. I’m proud to say we have healthy representation across all levels, and certainly in the boardroom.

What are your hopes for women in leadership?

Evonne Chung: Women in leadership have got to where they are because they’ve earned it. I’d hate for anyone to say, “How lucky. She’s female and she got there.” Our talent, hard work and leadership empathy have to be front and centre. Ideally, women have also progressed due to support and mentorship from other leaders. When you scale up, it should be your moral obligation to pay it forward, especially for our younger team members.

Men seem to be good at accruing ‘career sponsors’ and building mentor relationships, and studies show this is one of the reasons more of them continue to leadership roles. As women, it’s our responsibility to make the extra effort to encourage mid-level and junior colleagues to forge these relationships early on. Women leaders are often blessed with a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy – the most successful leaders use this to their advantage by making time to listen and act accordingly. I sincerely hope every woman in a leadership role remembers who helped them on their journey and extends a hand to the next generation of trailblazers.”

This interview was first published on Marketing-interactive.com.