Akriti Agrawal, Global Market Engagement Director at PHD Global Business shares her insights from the Asian Women of Achievement Awards
On 29th April, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Asian Women of Achievement Awards (AWA) which celebrated its 20th year since its conception in 1999. Being an Asian woman, my attendance was ostensibly nothing out of the ordinary, but it was. As I was attending an Asian event, sponsored by Omnicom group, a holding company to which my agency belongs in the UK. And that’s the powerful bit. I was there at the invitation of Sam Philipps, Chair of OPEN UK (as well as CMO Omnicom Media Group UK and Assistant Dean of Omnicom University), who leads Diversity & Inclusion across all of Omnicom’s agencies in the UK; and while conversing about diversity outside of the workplace with fellow Asian friends & family is routine but starting to have open discussions about it with colleagues was unprecedented.
The evening started with a welcome speech from Mr Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London who is also of Asian heritage and a hard-hitting fact – As per a 2018 Financial Times report, ethnic minorities make up approximately 12% of the working-age population but cover only 6% of senior management roles in the UK. Through the evening, the nominations across various categories demonstrated the success they had each achieved in their fields.
The common themes that emerged for me –
- The only thing successful people have in common are that they are successful – The evening was a testament to this. Asian women shared with us how they challenged stereotypes and the definition of success; whether it was a young female rally driver Nabila Tejpar making her mark in the largely male dominated field of motorsport or Sindhu Vee, who gave up a career in investment banking to venture into the riskier field of comedy against advice from friends and family, winning numerous awards since. Their journeys demonstrate how we can achieve our goals while staying true to our roots.
- Diversity is a stimulus to creativity – People like to fit in, so they are cautious about sticking their necks out. But different cultural perspectives stimulate creativity & innovation. This was proven through Shazia Mustafa the founder of Third Door, the UK’s 1st family-friendly co-working space with an on-site Ofsted nursery to meet the changing needs of working parents and Nadia Khan who set up The Delicate Mind to tackle mental health, often considered a taboo topic in the South Asian community, by working with faith leaders from different communities.
The evening made me realise that now more than ever it is imperative that we bring our different perspectives to all what we do. And all of this was possible because our leadership decided to not just ‘do diversity’ as a token gesture but commit to it.