‘‘I have never met a woman who is not strong” – Diane Von Furstenberg

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As 2019 draws to a close, MediaCom London hosted their last Glass Wall Network session of the year.

Inspired by Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacob OBE’s bestselling book The Glass Wall: Success strategies for women at work and businesses that mean business, the event is open to everyone who believes that the workplace can only thrive if everyone is included.

Based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, ‘A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water’, the event featured an inspiring lineup of female panelists, helping arm attendees with the tactics needed to smash glass walls.

Hosted by Sue Unerman, MediaCom UK’s Chief Transformation Officer and co-writer of The Glass Wall, the audience heard from Claudine Collins, Chief Client Officer at MediaCom UK, journalist and TV personality Nina Myskow, and writer and author of Love in a Headscarf and Vice President of Islamic Marketing at Ogilvy Consulting, Shelina Janmohamed. The panel discussed the worst situations they have experienced in their careers, how they have dealt with them and most importantly, what they have learnt.

Sue introduced the event, “It is resilience that makes us who we are and it is resilience that makes us smash through the glass walls that prevent us from getting the roles that people deserve.”

Nina Myskow talked us through the moment she found out that one of her male colleagues were being paid more than her:

“I had been working at my first job and came in slightly earlier than everyone else. I was looking for something on one of my male colleagues desks and as I opened one of his drawers, I saw his payslip. Now we weren’t making a lot of money then but I found out he was earning one and a half times more than I was, for the exact same job. There was nothing I could do about it because legally the ‘Equal Pay Act’ didn’t exist.”

After originally starting off as a secretary in her first media job and proving her skills when it came to media planning, Claudine Collins recounted the day when she had no option but to put her foot down in order to be respected by her male boss:

“My boss had come back from one of his pub lunches and was very drunk and very aggressive. He began to shout and blame me for a mistake that I wasn’t responsible for.”

Politely asking her boss to stop shouting at her for an error that was not her own, Claudine gave an ultimatum – stop shouting or she would leave. And that is what she did. The next morning Claudine’s boss had called her to ask: “Where are you?” Claudine explained that she wasn’t returning to the office because he had continued to shout at her. After catching up over a coffee, Claudine drew the line and explained what is and is not acceptable in regards to how you treat someone in the office. Once that ground was established, Claudine continued to work with him for 4 years and not once did he step over the line again.

Confrontation can happen in the workplace, but how else do you deal with it? Shelina Janmohamed gave the room some valuable advice:

“The thing that I have learnt about dealing with controversy or confrontation, as someone who is not naturally inclined towards it, is to be well prepared, have data and statistics at hand and most importantly say what you want to say and not get derailed. The thing that I find with people that are desperate to shout you down, is that most of the time there is no kind of logic in what they say. The important thing is to speak beyond the person that you are confronting when it’s a public situation, think about the audience beyond them. That is how I motivate myself.”

To attend any of our future The Glass Wall Network events, get in touch with [email protected]

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