International Women's Day - In conversation with Naz Sadri

Naz Sadri, Client Director at MerchantCantos in London gives her thoughts on our International Women's Day questions and talks about what equality means to her.

I passionately believe that women bring a unique perspective to communications that would otherwise be overlooked or lost if they are not treated with parity. Men and women are attuned to hear and see things differently; they often hold different types of conversations and come up with different angles or creative solutions. That’s why it’s essential for the best storytelling and creativity to have diverse minds and equal representation of men and women.

I’ve been fortunate to work in diverse workplaces where I’ve witnessed women thriving throughout. When working in international television, there were women from all parts of the world who would take great personal risks and make sacrifices (like their male colleagues) to cover news stories from war zones, famines and natural disasters, working under challenging conditions. Some of the best reporters are women, but the figures around women's representation in media are still shocking.

As this excellent visualisation by UN Women demonstrates, in multiple fields, we still do not have women as leaders, managers, key decision makers and influencers on a notable scale. That’s the change I’d like to see. Women being able to, on merit, rise to the top of organisations to lead teams of men and women. In order to get there, we need to be reminded of these stark figures that still exist globally. Gender inequality and some form of discrimination is experienced by women everywhere, it’s not just someone else’s problem.

In the workplace this can be addressed by paying attention to small things that can make a big difference. We can start by better understanding that women may have different styles of communicating and achieving things, and that we may need to be more mindful in the language we use and inherent processes that can be biased towards one gender. I think that men can be allies in advancing gender equality by better listening and being more sensitive to the fact that female colleagues have likely dealt with a different set of pressures. The recent film ‘Be a Lady They Said’ is a fantastic example of this and shows why gender equality must remain top of our minds and business agendas.

While I don’t think I’ve seen massive changes in terms of equality during my career, the level of conversation, training, and general awareness has definitely improved. It is now accepted as a critical issue and a challenge that must be addressed as a matter of urgency. We can see this in the increased variety of creative work we’ve been doing at MerchantCantos to support employee communications on workplace conduct, gender pay gap reports, and general diversity and inclusion. Personally, I find the advances that some businesses are making on the subject inspiring and hope that we can support more in this direction.

What is clear through our campaigns is that any change, but in particular culture change, is a complex challenge that cannot be “fixed” by one email, one training course, one poster, one film. Like many causes worth fighting for, gender equality needs consistent, planned and long-term effort with regular reminders of the facts, and that goes beyond one designated day a year.

Photo credit: Zoe Austin @zoeaustinphotography

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