At ZOO, we have an incredible team made up in part with creative, intelligent, inspiring and innovative women. While the value of International Women’s Day stretches far beyond recognizing women for a brief moment each year, it’s an excellent chance to feature the stories, advice, and knowledge that these awesome women have to share.
We spoke to Sarah Mackie, head of HR; Marilyn Galosy, director, accounts and partnerships, Mapi Lucchesi, territory manager, Italy; and Teresa Alonso, territory manager, Spain and Portugal about what International Women's Day means to them.
How important is mentoring and coaching in helping women to grow their confidence at work?
Teresa Alonso: Mentoring and coaching are guidance tools to help people grow, develop their own thinking and to give them the confidence to speak up for what they believe in. It´s not a matter of gender, society needs to understand this: equal education, at home, at school, everywhere, is the path that allows women and men to reach their full potential. If women need mentoring and coaching to grow their confidence at work, we are doing something wrong.
Mapi Lucchesi: It's our duty as senior members to help and mentor the younger generation and it's also a way for us to learn from them. We must create a place where women feel secure enough to express their opinions. Don’t be afraid of asking for assistance and always remember that 'you are only as good as your team'.
"We must create a place where women always feel secure enough to express their opinions."
Marilyn Galosy: Having someone to help guide you through the experiences you may face being a woman in your industry, to ask questions, and have a direct link to their experiential knowledge is instrumental in building confidence in the workplace.
My first job after college was as a post production assistant and my boss was a woman. At the time, there weren’t many women working in post production, so working with her directly was crucial to my development within that industry. Leading by example, she was able to guide me through this new world and show me what it took to advance in a field dominated by men. I was able to develop the confidence to keep pushing myself forward, based on my direct experiences with her. To keep improving and advancing, it is extremely important to build a community of female peers across all industries and departments.
Each of my female colleagues has left a great and lasting impact on my confidence and growth throughout my career. In the future, I will look forward to any opportunity to share my growth and experience with other women.
Sarah Mackie: It’s essential to ensure we have female leaders of tomorrow. I think many of us have learnt things the hard way or wish someone had given us a certain piece of advice in the past. Rather than seeing it as a rite of passage, as senior women we should look to share those moments of 'I wish someone would have told me this when I started' with those just starting out in their careers.
Looking at the research, women are less likely to put themselves forward for a new job promotion if they don’t feel they have 100% of what’s required for the role, whereas the percentage for men is a lot lower at 60%. Women are also less likely to request a pay increase which affects the gender pay gap. Coaching and mentoring in these areas can aid more women to put themselves forward, by encouraging bravery we can help women grow their confidence to continue to climb the career ladder and decrease the gender pay gap.
What advice would you give to women who are struggling in a male-dominated industry?
Sarah Mackie: Don’t feel like you have to change to succeed. Before working in HR, I worked as an analytical chemist and in recruitment, which were both male-dominated teams at the time. However, having a different style and approach allowed me to succeed and strengthen the team. Focus on what you can contribute through your ideas and work rather than how you are perceived. Let your actions and contributions define you rather than your gender.
"Let your actions and contributions define you rather than your gender."
Teresa Alonso: We're on your side. For those of us with more experience, it's especially important that we help develop their thinking and also defend them. Ideas and hard work are our main strengths, but zero tolerance for discrimination and a certain audacity is crucial too.
What motivates you to be successful?
Teresa Alonso: Being successful is to do the right thing. The key is to know what the right thing is in every moment, with everyone, with myself. The question is: what I can do for this industry? For this company? For every project I am involved in? Successful is just to do my best.
Sarah Mackie: I was told at school due to my severe dyslexia that I should only focus on math and science as I had limited verbal and written communication. This set back my confidence and my aspirations of what I thought I could achieve in the future. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t true. Now, this drives me to demonstrate what can be achieved by embracing and celebrating what makes us different and unique.
"I’m driven to show that being neurodiverse and a working mum to two beautiful children doesn’t mean I can’t think big in terms of my career aspirations. I want to show my daughter that there isn’t anything she can’t achieve as long as she puts in the hard work and believes in herself."
Who are your most inspirational female icons, and why?
Marilyn Galosy: Throughout my life, I have found the most inspiration from those closest to me – my grandmother, mother and step-mother. Growing up, I never considered them icons of inspiration, but as an adult, I clearly see their strengths and know what they’ve accomplished has always been an example I looked to, in so many ways.
Watching both my mother and step-mother receive their PHDs ‘later in life’ after each had already had full careers has inspired me to stay aware of and open to change and growth, regardless of age.
What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
Mapi Lucchesi: Be prepared, don’t be afraid of asking for advice or help, think about your business and give 100% – but always leave space for your personal life. You must enjoy your work; be proud of what you do.
Sarah Mackie: Don’t be afraid of failure or the word no. We all fail, and we will all be told no at some point and that’s okay. It’s what we do after that matters. Being told no or not succeeding the first time around, learning from your mistakes or failures, and not giving up builds our resilience, makes us stronger, and pushes us onwards to succeed.
What advice would you give to young women growing up in today’s society?
Sarah Mackie: Have acceptance of your whole self, love what makes you different and how that allows you to bring a different perspective to the world. Be brave in sharing your ideas and communicating your aspirations.
"Be brave in sharing your ideas and communicating your aspirations. Teaching girls to be brave rather than perfect is really powerful."
Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, has been of great inspiration to me, her message of teaching girls to be brave rather than perfect is really powerful. I would encourage any young woman to watch her TED talk.
As women, how can we support each other to achieve our goals?
Sarah Mackie: Be cheerleaders for each other and celebrate each other's successes and achievements. Remind each other that we don’t need to be perfect to be successful. Be a voice of encouragement and support everyone, not just women. Sometimes we all need to be told we are killing it!
Choose To Challenge, the theme for this year's International Women's Day is a reminder that all of us can Choose To Challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.