This year's International Women's Day theme is "#BreakTheBias" in an attempt to break deliberate or unconscious bias that makes it difficult for women to move ahead. The campaign which urges for a level the playing field comes as representation of women in leadership still isn't where it needs to be.

According to data from McKinsey, while representation of women has increased across the pipeline since 2016, women of colour still remain significantly underrepresented in leadership. For example, about 25% of C-suite positions were occupied by women as of 2021; about 28% and 30% of senior vice presidents and presidents were women respectively.   

In light of International Women's Day, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to prominent female leaders in our industry, inviting them to talk about a number of topics, including their career, challenges in their respective industries, and their ideas about women in a leadership position. In this article, we feature Candy Tong , co-founder of Above The Line Company, who talks about her views on these issues.

Above The Line is a boutique PR and marketing agency with a team of PR professionals specialised in consumers, shopping mall, art and culture, technology and trade, fashion and lifestyle communications.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

I am the founder and partner of Above the Line PR & Communications, where I oversee all clients and supervise operations on a daily basis. My partner Vivien Wong and I also take an active role in exploring new industry trends and company strategies to not only stay abreast the tides, but also create breakthroughs in the market.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How did you get into the industry?

As an extrovert, I’ve always been very good at making things happen. I studied journalism and communications in Hong Kong, and I started my career in the industry started with an internship at a PR agency. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are some of the barriers you think women in the PR industry facing?

As a woman in the industry, a devoted wife and mother of a five-year-old, one of the greatest hurdles is maintaining work-life balance in such a demanding industry. My husband is a great father, but mothers have a special bond with their children.

Sometimes it feels like we’re walking a tightrope of fuelling our career ambitions and being an all-present parent.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Have you faced any personal prejudice or misconception in the industry?

In the past, I feared that our clients would lose their trust in our capabilities when I was pregnant. The same feeling applied when my partner at work was pregnant too. I felt we had to work a bit harder to prove that we were more than capable even though we were nurturing a child in our bodies. Our hard work paid off as we inked a deal with one of our biggest clients Disney+ when my partner was nine months into her pregnancy. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is one area that you are looking to tackle as a woman in a leadership position?

The PR industry in Hong Kong is very female-friendly. However, there are areas that I’d like to see more female players including innovation, technology, NFT and the digital environment. The category is relatively new in Hong Kong, especially in PR. So we’re working to create some exciting projects in this arena.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What are your hopes for the PR and advertising community in general in 2022?

We’ve been talking about integrated-360 marketing and PR for ages. But I hope that the birth of the metaverse will facilitate this seamlessness. We can no longer exist in silos: traditional marketing is not old news, but it must be integrated into digital offerings to be purposeful. Co-existence is key.

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