International Women’s Day 2024: Inclusivity in the Workplace

International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for both businesses and individuals to reflect on what they are doing to move the needle. Be that in closing the gender pay gap and assuring both equality and equity in the workplace through to driving inclusivity at all levels – from entry positions through to the Boardroom.

As an inclusive organisation, Trustonic is underpinned by a diverse and driven team, spanning 22 different countries across the globe.

Here, we mark International Women’s Day and the theme of inclusivity with the journeys of two of our female leaders – Senior Marketing Manager, Cynthia Chepe, and Commercial director – MEA, Carmen van Heerden:

Cynthia Chepe: Inspiring the Next Generation by Giving Back

How did you get into Marketing in the technology sector?

It was a journey. I am Peruvian and started working in industrial businesses, mainly mining, where, as a female, it took a significant effort to grow and have the opportunities in a man’s world.

In 2019, I moved to the UK to pursue a business career and fulfil my ambition of studying for an MBA. I secured a place at Alliance Manchester Business School. One of the challenges international students face is a significant increase in fees compared to UK citizens. 

However, when I passed the admission process, I received a letter with a scholarship from the Forte Foundation. This organisation supports women worldwide in studying and growing in a business environment. It enabled me to not only achieve by MBA, but – in enabling me to advance my skillset – also ensured I was able to secure my role in Marketing with Trustonic.

Do you feel a sense of inclusivity in the workplace?

I thoroughly enjoy working in the UK, but over the last 5 years have observed the following:

Being a woman in business is hard work, but finding colleagues and bosses who make you feel included and guide you through your own path is essential for a women’s growth. We are fortunate to have this at Trustonic under the leadership of our COO, Suzie Smith, and – as a result – I can say that I am working in an environment where I can see myself growing and development on a regular basis.

I believe it’s important to never judge a woman, particularly if you are a woman. We do not know how much effort they have to put in each day to uphold their own role or the story behind their career – not all people have the same opportunities or access to the same resources and it’s important to remember that. However, it is in our hands to make this world more equal and that is something I am very passionate about.

What role can female leaders play in driving inclusivity in the workplace?

I understand that my women’s generation is “blessed” compared to previous ones – both in the UK and Peru – but this is thanks to other women who fought before. As such, I am committed to doing what I can to support the younger generation so these women can benefit from a better and more equal world.

As such, my way of returning my scholarship funding from the Forte Foundation is by mentoring other women who are pursuing a career in business. I am proud to mentor aspiring female leaders though both the Forte Foundation and Alliance Manchester Business School. I am very encouraged by the goals and aspirations of my mentees. Furthermore, I find these sessions both motivating and inspiring. I enjoy listening to their different goals and views, while also relaying and sharing my experiences to help them succeed in whatever they choose to do.

Carmen van Heerden: The Power of Inclusivity for Personal Development

How did you get started in commercial roles in tech?

It was a natural progression from a pure marketing role which stemmed from wanting to analyse spend, ROI, channel and pricing constructs influencing the buying behaviour and how better to influence this in driving sales and market share. But for this, a natural curiosity existed to better understand the commercial relationships within my portfolio and how best to leverage this to benefit all but most more importantly the marketing and sales objectives I had set out to achieve.

Ultimately, the curiosity and willingness to get involved in areas outside of my job function enabled a me to expand my knowledge and exposure to sales and commercials, which exceeded my interest in solely a marketing function.

Do you feel a sense of inclusivity in the workplace?

I have been very privilege to have work with many strong leaders within the industry and even more so very resilient female leaders throughout my career setting a an invaluable example from which to build my own career and personal brand. But despite this, I would not be where I am today if I was not given the opportunity to be included in meetings, discussions and the opportunity to own stretch assignments or projects to showcase my value and knowledge within these. To push me outside of my comfort zone and enable me to shift my own paradigms and limitations.

A specific scenario that comes to mind, was being included in a senior leadership engagement with a previous CEO and their SLT to represent my line manager at the time who was unable to attend. Not only was I able to broaden my understanding in what it takes to be seated at the table, gaining invaluable insight into how the leadership team was going to enable this through the various verticals, but I was able (in my junior capacity) to give insight into key topics based on past knowledge and experience and highlight key requirements for the division I formed part of. It also drove exposure of my knowledge and skill set amongst the broader leadership team, who recognised the value and contribution I made to my direct reporting line and division.

What role can female leaders play in driving inclusivity in the workplace?

Inclusion is invaluable not only to the business in hand, but also to personal development and value contribution. I, therefore, believe female leaders can play a fundamental role in creating inclusivity in the workplace by supporting and guiding aspiring individuals within a safe environment for development.

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