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8 July 2016

How to nurture our female talent

Written by: Siobhan Hill, Account Director at Edelman

Careers, Culture, Government Affairs

In conversation with Edelman’s Stephanie Lvovich, Global Public Affairs Chair and Anji Hunter, Senior Adviser

Edelman hosted an inspirational morning of conversation for Women in Public Affairs this week with our very own Stephanie Lvovich, Global Public Affairs Chair, and Anji Hunter, a Senior Adviser in our UK office.  As a member of the Executive Committee for Women in Public Affairs, I often get to listen to extremely talented senior women in our industry. They provide counsel, share their thoughts and key learnings, and do their best to help the next generation of women reach senior leadership roles. Working alongside both Stephanie and Anji on a daily basis, I have long-realised that other women in our industry could benefit from their many experiences. This week’s event was an opportunity to showcase these to those outside of Edelman.

Chairing the session, Stephanie began the discussion by asking Anji how she thinks the workplace has changed. She said that there is no longer anything to stop women from succeeding, apart from a lack of self-belief. Referring to her mentoring role at Edelman, she said that she still regularly encounters women doubting themselves. The familiar issues of when and how to juggle a family, how to negotiate a pay rise and secure that coveted promotion all continue to dominate her conversations. She concluded that the position women now need to adopt is one of faith in themselves and their abilities. Stephanie echoed this sentiment, urging attendees “early on in their career to think big and think global” as “different frames of reference are the future”.

Stephanie went on to speak about the “silent critic”, which she described as “the biggest barrier” to success facing women. A huge advocate of the benefits of mentoring women, she added that mentoring is about judgement, navigation and building confidence. With many women still being labelled “bossy, workaholics, pushy and emotionally unstable”, Stephanie noted that these are stereotypes ambitious women still encounter. She added that as a senior female leader “we have the obligation to pave the way for you”, and women helping other women remains as important as ever.

Towards the end of the session, Stephanie spoke about the importance of trying to balance personal and professional lives.  She added that women should “feel proud and unafraid to be dedicated to our children”, focus their efforts on prioritisation and mobility, and utilise the benefits that remote working offers them.

Where next for women in our industry? Women dominate public affairs and the wider communications sector more than ever before. In domestic politics we are witnessing the emergence of a female political leadership, with Theresa May as the frontrunner for the Conservative leadership race. She is followed by Andrea Leadsom, a former banker and our current energy minister. In the Labour ranks, Angela Eagle is poised to challenge Jeremy Corbyn. Aside from Nicola Sturgeon, the Conservative and Labour party leaders in Scotland, the leader of Plaid Cymru and the first Minister of Northern Ireland are all women. Labour has never had a female leader before. America has never had a female President. The opportunities are endless. With the growing possibility that we will have two female leaders facing each other across the despatch box at Prime Minister’s Questions, and Hillary Clinton close to cracking the “hardest, highest glass ceiling” in the land, there really are no excuses for the rest of us.

About Stephanie Lvovich

Stephanie is responsible for developing and expanding the public affairs offer and business internationally with a team of 275 consultants across 15 markets. Stephanie has more than 20 years of public affairs and political research experience and specialises in corporate positioning and strategic counsel, issue-based communications, issue advocacy, and trade association creation, strategy and management. She has worked across most major industrial sectors including FMCG, pharmaceuticals, financial services, alcohol and international trade.   

Stephanie’s contributions to public affairs have been recognised through a number of awards, including Pioneer to the Life of the Nation presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, the European Parents Association award for outstanding contribution on media and children and the Fulbright Fellowship in 1997.

About Anji Hunter

Anji joined Edelman to provide senior counsel to clients on corporate reputation building, crisis management and public affairs. She worked for Prime Minister Tony Blair MP from 1987 to 2002, in opposition and government, becoming Head of Government Relations in Downing St (1997), where she was the key liaison with the Cabinet, Civil Service, the Labour Party, Opposition Leaders, other Governments, and key media, business, and NGO figures.

She then spent the next seven years as Group Director of Communications at BP, before being appointed Group Head of Government and Social Affairs at Anglo American plc, responsible for overseeing relations with the communities and governments where the company operated.  She went on to work for the Royal Academy of Engineering as the Director of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

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