International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the achievements of women, whether they be social, economic, cultural, or political. It may surprise you to know that IWD started in 1911 and it was supported by more than a million people. Since then, IWD has become a global day to celebrate women’s achievements and, at the same time, it is a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. To celebrate International Women’s Day we wanted to share our team’s thoughts on women who have inspired us through their resilience, drive, and ambition; and in doing so, have inspired others.
I admire Fearne Cotton for recognising her needs and breaking away from the ‘celebrity’ spotlight that no longer served her or aligned to her values. Her knowledge and understanding of wellbeing are insightful and her empathy for others who face personal challenges comes across as so genuine. Happy Place is the name of Fearne’s podcast.
My first boss Carole Lee, taught me everything about strategy and branding. Her work ethic, organisation skills and attention to detail are second to none. When we were made redundant in 2007, I was extremely upset because I felt it was the end of my career, but Carole encouraged me to join her in setting up our own brand consultancy. This gave me a whole new insight into the logistics and finances of running a business, as well as giving me a boost of confidence in my own skills and abilities. She has supported me completely throughout my career and is still a good friend today.
Michelle Obama – as the US First Lady she aligned herself with so many good and worthwhile causes. When she speaks, she does it with such grace and authority, that the world (okay, perhaps not Trump supporters!) listens.
My friend Rachel Larcombe inspires me. At the age of 20, after the sudden death of her father, she took over the family business (Dalaco). For the last 17 years she has run the business and maintained the most positive attitude towards everything she has put her mind to. Recently, she helped with a whole house renovation whilst pregnant and has managed to maintain running her company after bringing a happy baby boy into the world.
Kathy Burke. She is such an inspirational woman to me because she represents authenticity and humour – two things that are super important to me and are also (as far as authenticity and realness are concerned) quite a rarity these days, especially amongst celebrities. I feel it’s so important that we give more women like her a platform, women who represent other non-celebrity women, women who are notable for being bold, straight-talking and real!
Samanatha Larkin is the Managing Director of my former agency in London, and she continues to be my work mentor. She carved out a career in media and agency life when it was a male dominated industry. She filled me with confidence, allowing me to appreciate my depth of knowledge within the industry.
Ann Daniels is one of Britain’s leading polar explorers and she lives in East Devon. I first interviewed her for a magazine in 2012 and I was blown away by her story. She embodies IWD for me because she has achieved so much through sheer determination, grit and motivation – and all whilst a mum of young triplets. Ann is the first woman in history, along with her expedition teammate Caroline Hamilton, to reach the North and South Poles as part of all women teams. Since then, she has taken part in ground-breaking polar expeditions, even carrying out scientific research for the European Space Agency and NASA.
Mrs Nichols was my third year Middle School teacher. I was a bit unruly as a kid, but she was the first teacher who really calmed me down and inspired me to enjoy learning. Mrs Nichols gave me confidence in myself. She was kind, compassionate and fun, whilst always being in complete control of herself and the class. She nurtured every student with a calm authority and made the classroom a peaceful environment where you felt safe.
Greta Thunberg’s maturity and bravery is extraordinary. Her willingness to dedicate her life to activism and climate change is a rare and inspiring act of selflessness; particularly at such a young age. She isn’t afraid to challenge world leaders and has provoked a great deal of change by becoming one of the world’s most well-known climate campaigners at the age of 18.
My best friend, Giuliana Macari inspires me because of her determination to succeed and her strength to persevere in the hardest of times! She has had an incredibly difficult few years, after finding out her sister was seriously ill, weeks before leaving home to start a four year course in Finance at the University of Durham. Instead of giving up, Giuliana threw herself into her studies, whilst holding down multiple jobs to cover her rent. She is now on route to finish with a first and has an unconditional offer at an amazing company. I am so proud of her, and her sister too, who is also an incredible inspiration to me and a very tough cookie!
These women are a handful of the many women we have all been inspired by at Chalk + Ward – and all of them come from different circumstances. IWD is not only about celebrating women’s achievements, it’s about raising awareness about discrimination, and taking action to drive gender parity. This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme is equity. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome, so #EmbraceEquity with us, and celebrate the women who have inspired you.