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 Irene Tsui, managing director, Mindshare Hong Kong, who talks about her views on these issues.
Tsui recently made headlines with her joining the Mindshare Hong Kong team. As an experienced veteran in the industry, she has held leadership roles at both client and creative agencies, with over 12 years in DDB and was most recently as managing director of DDB Group Hong Kong. Tsui has earned a reputation for her unflagging drive to bring better solutions and commercial growth to clients while creating an agency culture for talents to flourish. Here's her view on female empowerment.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest role?
In March, I’ll be assuming the position of managing director for Mindshare Hong Kong. I look forward to being a growth mentor who can maximise the potential of our company’s trailblazing talents.
2. How did you get into the industry?
Like most graduates, I sent my application to many big and small agencies, and attended rounds of interviews. At that time, media and creative were two departments under one roof. I was first offered the position of media executive at Leo Burnett. Here, I kickstarted my journey in advertising.
3. What are some of the barriers you think women in the creative industry face?
I think the key barrier that women in this industry are facing is how to balance family needs with demanding working hours. It is particularly challenging for working mothers.
4. Have you faced any personal prejudice or misconception in the industry?
When women are straightforward and put their foot down, they face name-calling sometimes in their faces. That happened when I was still a team head working my way up. As it was such a common occurrence – viewed as a “joke” – I didn’t take offence. But in hindsight, I realise it was very uncalled for. There’s a double standard because men who behave this way are admired as strong leaders.
5. What is one area that you’re looking to tackle as a woman in a leadership position?
I would like to better support working mothers by setting up nursing rooms in the office and providing flexible working hours and talent mobility.
To this day, I am very grateful to my ex-CEO who allowed me to move from being a frontline business director into a people development role. I was assigned a four-day workweek and they provided all training I needed to transition into that position. I was in that role for 18 months and it gave me the flexibility to take care of my young daughter during a very crucial phase. I hope to do the same for all my staff. I will do my best to support all the working mothers to have freedom and flexibility. Too often, I’ve seen capable women leave the workforce – some are able to return a few years later but many never make it back. I wish to see all women in the industry being empowered with options so they do not have to sacrifice either their family or their career. We deserve both.
6. What are your hopes for the creative community in general in 2022?
More opportunities to get together in person such as company-wide happy hour sessions and industry-wide awards gala dinners – hopefully soon in 2022!