The women of Return speak out for International Women’s Day

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The ladies of Return.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked some of our super-talented female team members at Return if the marketing industry has progressed for women throughout their careers and which women are most inspirational to them.

What does being a woman in business mean to you?

"I’m proud to be a board director at a company where gender inequality simply doesn’t exist (we have an equal split in our senior management team), and I know that I’m lucky to work somewhere that doesn’t limit anyone’s potential. It’s important for women in senior positions to dispel the fear around glass ceilings. If enough of us break through, there’s a path for other women to follow."

- Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

"We have just as much of a right to succeed in our careers and work towards achieving our goals as the next guy. A woman in business should have equal opportunities to success just as any man in business."

- Divya Patel

How has being a woman in business changed since you started? Are there any major changes you’ve been happy to see?

"I had plenty of #MeToo moments in my early career, and it’s only with experience and hindsight that I can see where I was held back from achieving more. But with the rise of new industries, disruptors, start-ups and young entrepreneurs, the tide is shifting. Yes, gender equality varies hugely by sector and, yes, there’s still a long way to go in getting women into the senior positions they genuinely deserve, but in only the space of a decade, I can see how far we’ve come."

- Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

"There are more women progressing into senior positions than ever before and I am proud to work among so many talented women at Return."

- Lindsey Howard

How has the power of women made a change to business over the years?

"Credit Suisse research last year showed that businesses where women make up at least 15% of senior management are 50% more profitable than those where fewer than 10% of senior managers are female. Enough said."

- Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

Following the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, what do you think the next five years have in store for women?

"Things are improving, but you can’t expect to change learned behaviours and dated mindsets overnight. I hope that in five years’ time we don’t just see women in senior positions to hit a Government quota, or every awards ceremony being used as a platform for protest, or every advertising campaign including an empowering hashtag. I want to see genuine credit where it’s due, a rise in the number of female CEOs, and world leaders that lead by example…"

- Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

"I think that women will have a louder voice moving forward and sexual harassment in the workplace won’t be something people will brush under the carpet easily. Allegations will be taken very seriously and, more importantly, women will be heard.

- Divya Patel

Which woman inspires you the most?

"I can’t name just one! From Malala Yousafzai to Frida Kahlo, Michelle Obama to Vivienne Westwood, Amelia Earhart to the matriarchs in my own family – I’m inspired every day by women who are bold, creative and determined."

- Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

"My Nan. She’s an original badass and deals with whatever life has thrown at her with grit, sarcasm and fabulous jewellery!"

- Lindsey Howard

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