Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021

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How our staff are “choosing to challenge” this International Women’s Day.

Zoe Morley

After a long and difficult 2020, we interviewed some of our amazing women at Hardie Grant to find out the challenges they have and the women in leadership they admire. 

On March 8th every year, the world comes together to celebrate the achievements, work and lives of women everywhere. Even a global pandemic won’t stop this celebration. International Women’s Day is a day to applaud the incredible women in our lives, near or far. 

If you were to step into the Hardie Grant office in Melbourne or Sydney, you would be greeted with the smiling faces of a diverse workforce – a majority female workforce, in fact. Each woman in the Hardie Grant team is a unique, positive and incredible asset to the company. 

But getting to where we are today did not come without its challenges. That is why we thought this was the perfect opportunity to chat to our incredible women about what’s important to them.

The women of Hardie Grant Media 

We asked these strong and fantastic women a few questions about International Women’s Day and how they #ChooseToChallenge as a woman in leadership. 

Is there a woman in a leadership position that you look up to, or that inspires you? Why? 

Clare Brundle, deputy managing director, Sydney

“Jacinda Adern – not only has she led their COVID-19 response brilliantly, but I think it was inspirational with how she handled the Christchurch terrorism incident. She just led with love and compassion.” 

Sophie Knox, editorial director, Sydney

“All the amazing women in my life that are leaders in their own world. I am proud to know and love each and every one of them because they inspire me every day. With their perseverance and their ability to just get on with life with whatever curve balls are thrown their way. 

“They are leaders in their own world at a grassroots level and it is to me those women that are having the greatest impact on future generations.”

What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in leadership positions in today’s world? 

Stacey McArdle, director of tide.pr 

“It is still those day-old perceptions and stigmas that if a woman is really loud, assertive and strong that she is bossy, whereas a man doing the exact same thing is a boss. “I think we still have so much work to do in breaking down those barriers and perceptions to ensure that women and men are on an equal playing field.” 

Fiona Hardie, chair of Hardie Grant Media, Melbourne

“Respect. Woman are far too often still looked down upon, belittled. Even directors can be looked over, even partners are relegated to roles that are considered to be less worthy”

Courtney Nicholls, publishing director, Melbourne 

“I think making sure our voices are heard and being confident enough to use those voices in rooms that can often be dominated by male leadership.” 

Kate Thompson, strategy director, Melbourne 

“I think generally speaking, women still aren’t getting opportunities for leadership positions. I think stereotypically and generally speaking that’s because of a lack of embracing some of the really progressive ideas or how we go about doing work.”

A recent Workplace Gender Equality Agency study shows that more women on boards and in senior leadership roles result in improved company performance, profitability and productivity. Do you think this is true in our workplace? 

Kate Thompson, strategy director, Melbourne 

“Well, in our last diversity survey we had 81% of our staff who were female. When you look to the leadership positions, I think it was a pretty even split 50/50, and when you look to the board its 40/60 so maybe there might be something in that. I don’t know. You tell me.” 

Natalie Taylor, executive producer of SHERPA, Melbourne

“I think its hugely important for women to be on boards and in senior leadership roles. When I first started in advertising when I was 17, the entire advertising world was extremely male dominated, and it was very difficult for me to see a position for myself in the future.” 

Jo Davy, managing editor, Melbourne 

“I am a big believer in attitude that you can’t be that you can’t see, and I feel very fortunate that I have always had quite strong female leaders throughout my career.”

What is something you wished you had challenged when you were younger? 

Stacey McArdle, director of tide.pr 

“Something that I would challenge if I was young again would probably be women’s involvement in sport, most predominantly in AFL. You know, men play footy, women play netball. It’s incredible to see now that’s definitely not the case” 

Courtney Nicolls, publishing director, Melbourne 

“I wish I had been confident enough to use my voice more, to speak in the rooms when you think you maybe should just be quiet and let others, usually men, to continue the conversation.” 

Natalie Taylor, executive producer of SHERPA, Melbourne 

“As a young woman I always questioned myself and my abilities and to a certain extent, I still do. Whereas thorough my past 20 years in advertising and film, I have met many young men and women who are progressing through their own careers.

“Most often, the men have a lot of confidence and conviction in what they are doing, and quite often, the women with the exactly the same skillset, really question themselves and doubt their abilities. I really hope that is something that will change in the future”.

What advice would you give to women who are wanting to challenge the norm/status quo? 

Jo Davy, managing editor, Melbourne 

“My advice would be if you have an issue you care about, research it, learn it and then don’t shut up about it”. 

Sophie Knox, editorial director, Sydney 

“My advice is to dig deep, find the why, listen to your gut, be brave, and ask the hard questions to challenge the status quo. There is no one right way to do things and it is incredibly empowering to be the one to create a path for those coming along behind you.”

Clare Brundle, deputy managing director, Sydney 

“I really believe that when you look at a decision and you feel the fear, you have to do it anyway. You are always going to feel some sense of anxiety or stress when you are making a difference or making change.”


What is something you will #ChooseToChallenge today? 

Courtney Nicholls, publishing director, Melbourne 

“The notion that women can’t be successful in leadership positions but also being full time mothers. We absolutely can.” 

Fiona Hardie, chair of Hardie Grant Media, Melbourne 

“That you can’t have it all” 

Stacey McArdle, director of tide.pr 

“Calling out gender inequality whenever I hear or see it”

Last year, we asked women at Hardie Grant Media how they feel empowered.

Zoe Morley, account coordinator  

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