Leading brands around the world have encouraged staff and followers to ‘break the bias’ behind gender inequality this week.
Companies celebrating International Women’s Day on Tuesday (8 March) included Spotify, The Economist, Adidas and Sitel Group – a global customer experience solutions provider which is also a Business Member of the IOE&IT.
With a majority (54%) of its staff women – including in several leadership positions at both the global and regional levels – the firm was named a ‘Leader in Diversity’ by the Financial Times last year.
Sitel Group hosted an online panel discussion titled ‘Celebrating Women, Empowering Women’ on Tuesday to celebrate this year’s theme and social media campaign, #BreakTheBias.
A panel comprising of female leaders within the company from across the globe spoke about their own personal histories with gender inequality and the importance of female empowerment.
This year’s #BreakTheBias theme encouraged people to “imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination”, according to marketing platform The Drum.
In response to a question about what she would say to her younger self when facing gender bias for the first time in a working environment, Sitel’s director of Indian sales operations, Falguni Tucker, spoke of the importance of viewing being a woman as a strength, not a weakness.
“For me I think I would say to my younger self to be brave, to not hold back,” she said. “We can be whoever we want to be and the biggest thing for me is to believe that being a woman is not my weakness, it is rather my strength.”
Catherine Hadechini, the vice-president for Sitel Group’s Colombian operations, said she felt empowered to ‘break the bias’ when told to be careful about voicing her disagreements for fear of being perceived as “emotional because you’re a woman”.
“First it just baffles me that being in touch with your emotions has a negative connotation and that it portrays you as weak when you are a woman,” she said. “Secondly, I’m not sure why I should be perceived as weak just because I shared a disagreement with someone. That was a key moment where I felt empowered to break the bias and I continue to do so”.
All the speakers agreed that, in the face of bias and discrimination, having the self-confidence and tenacity to assert themselves and believe in their abilities was key to their success.
Kellie Smith, vice-president for IT service delivery in the EMEA region, spoke of the importance of having “persistence, tenacity and the confidence in my own abilities regardless of what I may have been told from an early age”.
She added that she took “inspiration from others and building trust from those around me and again earning respect.”
You can follow Sitel’s Facebook campaign for International Women’s Day at #SitelGroupWoman and watch the online event, ‘Celebrating Women, Empowering Women’, on LinkedIn here.