Olivia Parker
Mar 8, 2018

International Women's Day: 'If we want change, we have to earn it'

Women Leading Change Awards winners share their thoughts on why change is not a given, the #MeToo movement in Asia and their hopes for the next generation of female talent.

Former Women Leading Change Award winners:
(clockwise from top left) Samyukta Yatish, YouMi Cho, Ruth Stubbs
Former Women Leading Change Award winners: (clockwise from top left) Samyukta Yatish, YouMi Cho, Ruth Stubbs

“Being recognised is amazing.”

These were the words of Ruth Stubbs, global president of iProspect, as she became the first ever winner of the Vision award, the top gong at the 2017 Women Leading Change Awards, held in Hong Kong last year.

Stubbs competed against five other outstanding women from around Asia to win the Vision title, which is given to an exceptional female leader who has a proven ability to turn her ambitions into reality.

It’s an award that ties in perfectly with International Women’s Day, which hopes to “celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women”, making today a fitting day to call for nominees for this year’s Women Leading Change Awards, which will be held on May 31st in Singapore. 

Founded to champion change makers, leaders, achievers and rising stars in the media, advertising and marketing industry in Asia, this year’s event will see an independent jury, which includes Ruth Stubbs, award gongs to standout women in 12 different categories, from ‘CEO of the Year’ to ‘Mentor of the Year’. The Women Leading Change Awards will also support UN Women in 2018.

The awards ceremony will follow a half-day conference unpacking various strands of the gender diversity discussion, with a special focus this year on science, business and technology leaders. The conference will reveal the results of Campaign and Kantar's second survey on gender equality, which you can participate in now to share your views, and will feature speakers including Wavemaker’s Rose Huskey and Jee Seon Park of L’Oréal. The subjects under debate will include unconscious bias and how to overcome it, success stories and what they teach us, and getting over barriers (register for the conference here).  

These are all subjects familiar to YouMi Cho, CEO of Publicis One Korea, another winner from last year’s awards who took home one of four prizes for ‘Creative Leader’. As the only female CEO in the top 20 agencies in Korea, Cho says she was “much honoured” to win her award because she feels strongly responsible to set a good example as an effective female leader. “If we want change, we have to earn it by ourselves,” says Cho. “That is exactly what I have kept telling myself during my career whenever I faced challenges. I want young female talent to be more brave and ambitious to lead the change and to grow as successful female leaders.”

YouMi Cho, who won a Creative Leader prize in the 2017 Women Leading Change Awards

The number of female workers is the same as male in the industry in Korea, says Cho, but when it comes to managerial or executive positions, men are still in the majority. “If a company with female leadership and gender equality becomes competitive and successful, the rest will come along and follow. Change is not given and created from the center. It is created from the border and we are the ones to make it.”

In Korea, continues Cho, the fight for gender equality has made meaningful progress in the last couple of years, with women continuing to engage in political and social activities where their influence translates into action. In Publicis One specifically, says Cho, she is trying to actively apply maternity protection policies to help young female talent continue their careers, grow and develop. 

The #MeToo movement, which encourages victims to speak out against sexual harassment, is also starting to strike in Korea, Cho says, gathering pace ever since “the most authoritarian and conservative organisation - the female prosecutor”, went public with her own #MeToo declaration.

Samyutka Yatish, director of client solutions at VML and winner of a Rising Star prize at the 2017 Women Leading Change Awards, agees that the advance of this movement has got more people thinking about and discussing the subject of harassment in Singapore, too. Although she hasn't personally seen any instances of this behaviour herself, Yatish says: "It's not just talking about experiences but just bringing it to the table as a conversation point - that in itself is quite an achievement to get both genders talking about it." 

In Yatish's view, the biggest change she has seen recently in terms of gender equality has been the rise of more female leaders. "What we’re starting to see a lot more of is leaders in the workplace who are women and that is very inspiring to look up to. We need them to inspire others to move ahead, to pull others up along with them and mentor more women in the workplace."

Samyukta Yatish of VML, winner of a Rising Star award at the 2017 Women Leading Change Awards

Yatish herself has had both male and female mentors, and says it was in fact a male mentor who taught her the most about standing up for women in the industry. 

Her biggest wish for International Women's Day? For women to have more self-belief. "I wish people had told me this a lot more but [I would tell women to] remember you're doing way more and way better than you think you are. We read about all the women taking over the world, and its easy to see that and think 'I'm not doing enough', but a lot of the time we're doing so much more than we think we are. I think it's important to work hard and drive your ambition but not to forget to enjoy that and give yourself that credit." 

Nominate now for the 2018 Women Leading Change Awards

Nominations are now open for this year's Women Leading Change Awards. To find out more about nominating someone for this year's awards, including eligibility, entry fee, supporting materials and the judging process, download the 2018 entry kit.

Enter here before the deadlines below.

Key dates:

  • Entries open: 5 February
  • Early-bird deadline: 29 March
  • Entry deadline: 11 April
  • Awards celebration: 31 May

Ticket sales for the awards ceremony in Singapore will commence from Thursday, 3 May, and will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis.

The awards event will also include the unveiling of our new survey on the industry's progress toward gender equality.

Please visit www.womenleadingchangeawards.com or contact the organiser at [email protected] for any enquiries.

Join Campaign's Women Leading Change Community Circle

We would like to invite interested parties to join Campaign's Women Leading Change Community Circle on LinkedIn. This is a networking group to bring together men and women from the advertising, marketing and media industry in Asia, who want to help drive more discussions and initiatives about diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the workplace. 


Campaign Asia

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