Why I’d Love All Women to Be Able to Thrive in a World That Values and Encourages Talent, Irrespective of Gender

By Helen Mills
Mar 14, 2018 8:00 AM ET

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #pressforprogress, and though we’re undeniably advancing toward gender equality in our workplaces, I think there’s still more to be done. Often, one of the issues that holds many women back begins in childhood, when certain behaviours are labelled.

I still remember the impact on my self-confidence, when I was six-years-old trying to convince my friends to play a different playground game and being told I was ‘bossy.’ And this was by a teacher. Worst of all, a female teacher. Even then, I was aware enough to notice that boys acting the same were never labelled.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have some great female role models throughout my life — meaning those childhood labels didn’t hold me back. But for many this isn’t the case. Deep-rooted labels and stereotypes can have a harmful effect on women’s leadership potential.

The value of more women in the workplace is clear – but sadly, even today, women still only hold 25 percent of senior business positions globally and only 20 percent of seats on the board.

At Mars, we offer our leaders inclusivity training to address issues, like unconscious bias. I’m very proud that today 42 percent of our Mars talent pipeline is female, with a goal to increase this by two percentage points per year. Our aim is to ensure that our Associate base in Mars is a true reflection of the population. That’s a great aspiration.

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