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International Women’s Day – A Time to #ChooseToChallenge

IWD 2021

Monday, March 8 is International Women’s Day 2021. This day comes almost a year since the outbreak of COVID-19 forced all Zenoids to work remote – a disruption to our lives, routines, and traditions. After an unprecedented and enlightening year, we at Zeno Group are celebrating and reflecting on how we can make a difference.

The past year has been challenging for most anyone, but not all have carried the same weight. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted women on numerous fronts, from the gender gap in job loss, dubbed the “she-cession,” to the gendered burden of increased unpaid care work. These disparate outcomes did not come from left field. Rather, they are the clear outcomes of persistent and harmful inequities.  

More than ever before, each of us must #ChooseToChallenge by making a commitment to a gender equal world. Whether reflecting on potential gender biases, mentoring the #nextgen of women leaders, or speaking up in the face of inequality in our everyday, everyone can—and must—play a part in the pursuit of gender equity. 

So this year, we celebrate how far we have come and how much there is left to do. Below you will find commitments from Zenoids around the globe and how they #ChooseToChallenge, whether it be stereotypes, biases, or problematic norms. Together, we can create a world that is better for all.  #ZenoForEveryone

Julie Georgas – Managing Director, Zeno Canada 

“As a young a girl I thought all things were possible and never considered that my gender could limit me from realizing my dreams. Now as the mother of a daughter who dreams of playing NHL, I #ChooseToChallenge my own gender bias and the voice inside that says girls will never play NHL hockey. I will not let ingrained, limiting beliefs I was raised with, limit my daughter and the next generation. As a business leader, I commit to challenging myself and colleagues to see and call out gender bias and inequality and act to create an inclusive, equitable and open-minded workplace where change is embraced and all voices are heard, valued and celebrated.”

Jo Patterson – Managing Director, 3 Monkeys Zeno London

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to take part in an amazing training programme taught by Harvard Business School professors. One of them, an utterly brilliant man called Tom de Long, asked the class to think about the encounters we have with the people we work with every day, and how our default setting is to be concerned with how they perceive us. What they think about us. Are we strong? Decisive? Impressive? Instead, he counselled, throughout every interaction, don’t focus on what people think about you. Focus on how you make other people feelThis was one of the wisest pieces of advice I have ever been given and I think about it still, every day. It flies directly in the face of the notion that ‘good’ leaders must be rigidly rational. That ‘good’ leaders should be concerned with outcomes, not feelings. That emotions get in the way of leadership, and are somehow pejorative, because they’re perceived to be a female trait. If that’s what being a ‘good’ leader is, then I have a feeling we should say – ‘stuff that.’ This IWD, I #ChoosetoChallenge the outdated belief that good leaders shouldn’t feel.”

Ruby Fu – President, Zeno China

“In China, and in our industry, the majority of the workforce are women and our success is because of them.  COVID–19 has had a tremendous impact on family, the workforce, and individuals all over the world. We are blessed to be in the part of the world where recovery seems ahead of the rest of the world. On this particular day, my thoughts are to a lot of the women and men who have been affected because of the pandemic and I’d like to give them my commitment by reaching out to friends, being a good listener, and offering to help them in any capacity.  At the workplace, we have a gender gap of having all wonderful women; my commitment is to take every opportunity to learn from GenZ, and embrace the differences with respect and humbleness, while at the same time providing guidance, support and help to empower them to be stronger individuals at work and in life.”

Jocelyn Arellano – Senior Account Supervisor, California

“The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made me reflect on how her achievements have inspired me. She helped alter the way women were able to make their way in the world. Notorious RBG shattered glass ceilings, broke down doors and held them open for the rest of us. This International Women's Day, I #ChooseToChallenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and into rooms where we may not be welcome. Mirroring her iconic words, ‘Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.’ RBG did just that and we will continue to do so.”

Shannon Powell – Senior Account Executive, Chicago

“Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said ‘the consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar,’ and as someone who is passionate about leaving the world a better place, this really resonates with me. Advocating for marginalized groups closest to your story is commendable. But leveling up and being an ally outside of your myopic lens moves us toward true equity for all. The first step is letting go of preconceived notions and biases around people who are different than you (the single story) and realizing that our differences are what make us beautiful. This WHM and beyond, I #ChoosetoChallenge stereotypes and find more ways to collaborate with others to make this world a more just place.” 

Shileen Cruz – Account Supervisor, New York

“I have a personal tendency to put others’ needs before mine and often times, this includes my health. My family, my work, my friends are all areas where I find myself pouring so much of my energy, that by default, I’m last in that list of priorities. I know this stems from that unspoken accommodating role that so many women fall into: making sure everyone around them is happy. This IWD I #ChoosetoChallenge my inclinations to ignore my personal needs and will focus on my physical and mental health FIRST.”

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