This year FutureBrand, Hugo & Cat and UXUS have come together to collectively curate and celebrate the International Women's Day 2021 theme, #ChooseToChallenge. We are excited to announce that we have several initiatives planned to promote this important cause, celebrate our women and raise awareness around issues of gender inequality that still permeate workplaces around the world.

Today we launch the first of those initiatives, an open conversation that will run until 7th April.

Across FutureBrand, Hugo & Cat and UXUS, 17 women have volunteered to open up their diaries and offer 45-minute open conversation slots to anyone in the business, no matter the gender they identify with. For those on the other side of the conversation, the initiative offers the opportunity to connect with senior women across the globe – from a Creative Director in Milan to a CEO in Amsterdam – who they may not normally have the opportunity to interact with, whether across the coffee machine or while working together on projects.

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The sessions can address any area of focus the participants feel they would appreciate guidance around. This could range from discussion of career progression, to feedback on specific pieces of work, or advice on challenging gender stereotypes in the workplace. To kick off the initiative, the 17 volunteers will each share a short piece exploring what it means to be a woman within the industry, available to all FutureBrand employees via their internal IWD hub.

Although all the stories shared are unique, there is one common thread – the realisation that there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ when it comes to being a woman in the workplace.

One woman reflects on waiting to become a mother, whilst another outlines how she created – and continues to create – her own dream job at FutureBrand. Others open up about their emotional connection to their work, and how they have learned to manage the highs and lows that can come with becoming successful in their respective fields.

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"I preferred waiting to become a mother for the fear of losing what I had built over the years. I was thoroughly wrong. Becoming a mother is one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience. It helped me to be more organised, and stimulated my creativity by breaking down filters built over time. The super-power of problem-solving has been amplified since becoming a habit and condition of daily life."

Sara Pallaro Creative Director - FutureBrand Milan

Global in reach, we hope these open conversation sessions will spark dialogue about the nuances of gender roles in the workplace. And, although inspired by International Women’s Day #choosetochallenge theme - which encourages all genders to stand against gender bias at work - we also hope the initiative provides food for thought across the FutureBrand network long after the sessions conclude.

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