IWD Interview: Shattering Ceilings

Welcome to the second in our series of conversations with leading women who back the global campaign to bring about better equity

Read the first interview here

For this International Women’s Day blog, Represent Account Manager, Melissa Albarran, chatted with Tania Gillespie, Marketing Manager at Scotland’s leading independent funeral director, William Purves to find out how women can overcome barriers and fulfil their potential.

Read on for Tania’s thoughts on the obstacles facing women in business, and how we can overcome these today and tomorrow…

Melissa: What challenges have you overcome in your career?

Tania: In the early 1990s, marketing had a healthy mix of men and women.  Top jobs did have a female presence but I recall there was a real sense of a “woman in men’s clothing” attitude to these leaders. 

The main obstacle I had to overcome personally was during a corporate hospitality brief to young lawyers – given by a woman to other young women – in which a steer to “be good hosts”, left nothing to the imagination. 

As a young manager, I had to make that awkward decision to challenge the instruction at the expense of any promotion I may expect, or just to go with the flow.  I did the former and was lucky that the younger team were relieved it had been identified and tackled, and the senior partner… she too had regrets about the instruction!

Melissa: That sounds really uncomfortable, but well done on speaking up! Unfortunately, I suspect this still happens today in plenty of boardrooms!

Do you think your daughter will face as many challenges as you did?

Tania: Absolutely, but they are different as they would be for any generation.  There’s a marked difference in the attitudes of millennials versus previous generations in that they won’t tolerate the extremes of working culture. 

Whilst there are downfalls from a lowered level of commitment and drive (from some young people), there are opportunities that this generation will enjoy, such as the freedom to say no, to opt for a fairer work-life balance and not feel hemmed in by presenteeism of the generations before.  

Melissa: I certainly appreciate the greater attention to wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, when compared with former generations. This is vital, especially in our industry which can be stressful at times!

What advice would you give to women considering getting into what is typically quite a male-dominated industry?

Tania: Be worthy of whatever you do.  Love what you do.  Find the purpose in every task and goal.  Be yourself and let your personality shine. These truths enable me to focus on doing the best so I can lead and learn in any environment.

Melissa: Absolutely! And as we work so closely, I can verify that your energy and enthusiasm always come through and are always appreciated!

Thank you, Tania, for being part of the wider conversation on #embraceequity and sharing your thoughts with Represent for our #IWD23 interview series running throughout March.

See our social channels for more on this and join the conversation around female equity!

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