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A huddle to reflect upon progress made and barriers yet to overcome to mark International Women’s Day

By: Isabelle Davidian


Cue Digital celebrated International Women’s Day with the Mindshare Canada team on March 8, 2019 at the Toronto offices. My colleagues and I were joined by our publisher partners, New York-based Amanda Chan, Managing Editor at Bustle and Toronto-based Bianca Sparacino, Creative Director at ThoughtCatalog.

The event, which was months in the making, focused on the theme of balance, a unified direction to guide and inspire continuous collective action to help build a more gender-balanced world. Sarah Thompson, CSO at Mindshare Canada, led the full-day huddle further supporting WPP’s commitment to gender-equity (the holding company was named in Bloomberg’s 2019 Gender-Equity Index).

Guarding Against Inauthentic Authenticity

The Bustle session featured an insights-driven presentation by Amanda Chan who demonstrated the way in which Bustle, the premier digital destination for young women, creates relatable and impactful dialogue through content written in the right voice. As Amanda explained, in an internet-driven world, risk of false authenticity continues to increase. Authenticity can only be achieved when you know who you’re talking to, when you can put yourself in your reader’s shoes and when diversity and inclusion are sought to capture varying perspectives. The cautionary tale is that lack of authenticity is felt most where it’s lacking.

Connecting through human experiences

Bianca Sparacino later led the interactive session on guarding against inauthentic authenticity. Thought Catalog’s understanding of its audience comes from hearing its readers’ stories and connecting with the reality that, fundamentally, we are all equal in our experience of the world. The classroom style session, as it was dubbed, had participants get into groups, make eye contact with one another and answer questions like “What is your biggest fear in life?” and “What is something you are learning to forgive yourself for?”. These questions helped us understand each others’ truths and perspectives.

From the Panel

The end of day closing huddle featured a panel moderated by Sarah Thompson, which proved that gender bias is real in media and culture. The panel discussed the sly and condescending remarks often made to female journalists questioning how they gathered their sources, a narrative supported by the depiction of female journalists in film! An interesting example was how a male journalist devalued Tessa Virtue, the most decorated figure skater in Olympic history, by asking if the Barbie doll made in her honour was her proudest moment!

#BalanceForBetter is more than a hashtag, or a notion of taking a yearly photo with one’s female colleagues. It should be part of every organization’s M.O., reflected on daily, challenged regularly and celebrated by all.

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