Today, I am excited to celebrate International Women’s Day (#IWD21) – a global day dedicated to acknowledging and amplifying the achievements of women. Though I believe in celebrating the strength and ambition of women every day of the year, it is important to acknowledge the fight for women’s equality is far from over.
This is not a moment – it is a global movement that requires continued action. And, while there is no room for complacency, there is time to thank and celebrate the many women who have paved the way.
I have been working for Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) for close to a decade now – an oddity in the world of agency life. My career with the company has taken me across markets from Canada to the U.S., to the UK and one thing has always remained true: we have exceptional women across this agency opening doors and shattering ceilings.
As someone who has spent most of my adult life “growing up” with H+K, I learned very quickly that careers do not happen in isolation. You need mentors who can help guide you on this journey. People who see you as a human first. These are the people you lean into and keep close as your career takes off and you find your voice.
In my case, many of these mentors have been women who see the crucial need to show up for other women. I have a C-Suite of female mentors that have become an extended work family who both inspire and push me forward. These women answer the phone on a Saturday morning, check-in when you don’t even realize you are in need of guidance, and track change on the little things.
While I continue to learn from this group of female leaders across H+K, there are three key learnings that stand out:
Be unapologetically you. Too often, women come to work and feel the need to be everything for everyone. But that’s unrealistic and frankly exhausting. A few years back, when I worked in Washington, D.C., a mentor reminded me the best way to show up for myself, my colleagues, and my clients was as me. Because the me that showed up to work cared about client service and building collaborative teams – and that was enough.
Take up space. When I moved to London, England back in 2019 I joined an office of 300+ people – the biggest office I had ever worked in. It’s easy to convince yourself to stay in your comfort zone or blend in. But I worked for one of the few female leaders on the Sports Marketing team and one of the few female leaders on the Financial Services team. They walked into rooms and commanded respect. They took up space and in doing so found ways to amplify other people’s voices at the table. I try to do the same.
Break the rules. My career has come full circle and I am back where it all started – H+K Canada. Yet somehow, this feels like a new beginning. I have never worked for so many women leaders who are reshaping our industry and the people around them. These women remind me that breaking the rules is not only okay to do but essential for growth. Play the game you want to play, not the one people expect.
I have always believed in a people-first approach to business – and mentorship is a key part of that. So today, on International Women’s Day, I celebrate the women of H+K around the world. Thank you for your time, compassion, and intelligence.
I have been fortunate to benefit from the guidance and advice of the many strong and successful women of H+K who came before me. It is now my responsibility to do the same. To support and amplify the voices of women around me. To be that mentor.