Ensuring enough flexibility to manage work around life is considered one of the most important actions for organizations that are serious about nurturing an environment where more women leaders can rise to fulfil their potential. This was one of the key findings at a mixed-gender event by The Marketing Society and Weber Shandwick, an Official Partner of Think Equal, the initiative which aims to accelerate gender equality in leadership across the marcomms industry in the MENA region.
A diverse panel that represented perspectives from brands, agencies, marcomms, human resources, talent development and operations, shared views around inclusive leadership styles, challenges, real-world observations, and opportunities. Monica Hernandez Alarcon, Director of Human Resources, General Motors Africa & Middle East, Tracy Faulkner, Group Chief Communications and External Relations Officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and Ziad Hasbani, Regional CEO of Weber Shandwick MENAT, joined the panel moderated by Mariaan Valero, Head of Marketing and Content at Weber Shandwick MENAT.
Following the discussion, attendees at the event identified over a dozen actions that can help to support the acceleration of women in leadership. They then collectively ranked these actions into the top recommended actions for organizations and individuals.
For organizations, the top recommendation was ensuring flexibility to manage work around life, an operational approach that is especially significant to support working women, though all employees can benefit from this. The second most impactful suggested action was to implement personal branding sessions, followed by training for professional development.
For individuals, both men and women, the leading recommendation was to show up with authenticity. This reflects insights shared by the panel about the importance of individualism, and recognition of the fact that each leader also brings their own personality and experiences to a role. In second place, was to mentor and coach others, whether extending business acumen in a specific industry, or enhancing soft skills to get the best out of people. The top three actions were rounded out with a call for being empathetic to different lived experiences.
“The extent to which women can achieve their career ambitions depends not only on them, but also on the organizations they join, and the support they receive there. As such, we must remain open-minded about things we can do today – as organizations, colleagues, individuals, and partners – to ensure we’re playing our part in the creation of a positive environment where women have an equal opportunity to thrive and grow into the roles where they can make a difference,” said Ziad Hasbani, Regional CEO of Weber Shandwick MENAT.
Alasdair Hall-Jones, Global Director of The Marketing Society, opened the event and Noura Al Sarraj, Deputy MD Abu Dhabi, Weber Shandwick shared an inspiring welcome highlighted by her experiences of growth and development. Hayley Hilton, social media coach and host of the Social Sauce podcast, led an exercise to optimize both their female and male energies.