To celebrate International Women’s Day 2016, Azimo’s Leading Ladies series explores the gender agenda, from inspirations and success stories to frustrations in the workplace and beyond. This week we chat to Creative Director Chrissy Levett.
What’s your role at Azimo? How did you end up here?
I was brought in to lead creative thinking across the whole business and help build a dynamic new brand for Azimo. I come from a pure agency background specialising in brand strategy and design, but I was drawn to the human side of Azimo’s story – its mission to create a fairer world and somehow make a difference for migrants.
Do you feel women are well represented within the company?
Yes, Azimo totally rocks it when it comes to gender equality within the FinTech sector! More than a third of our staff are women and our co-founder, Marta Krupinska, is a powerful role model within the industry.
And what about within the FinTech industry as a whole?
There’s definitely room for improvement across every industry, not just FinTech, especially in senior roles and at board level. The finance and tech sectors have both been far too male-dominated in the past. I firmly believe that a better gender balance will create better practice, better products, better brand connection and better growth.
How do you feel gender equality has improved in recent times?
Opportunities are changing all the time and things are slowly improving. Pay inequality is now being addressed by many governments, but it’s still a long way off what’s fair. As former US President Jimmy Carter said in his hugely insightful TEDWomen talk in 2015: ‘The number one abuse of human rights on earth is the abuse of women and girls’.
And in which areas do you think there are opportunities?
There’s a massive rise in social enterprise at the moment and large corporate firms are starting to understand the role this can play in customer engagement. Empathy has a place in the future of successful business and women have a natural bias towards this way of thinking. A positive spin-off from that is the increased opportunity for women to lead.
Why is change slower in the workplace than elsewhere?
The past plays too great a role in all our lives. Humans don’t naturally embrace change, yet it’s often the best thing for us. Those of us who challenge the norm are generally more happy and fulfilled. Women could definitely be braver in the workplace, and much of that bravery comes from self-belief and acknowledging your own skills and talent.
How could workplaces change for the better in terms of gender equality?
We should put a halt to stereotyping. We need to treat everyone the same, regardless of gender, skin colour or country of origin. It should be purely about getting a great job done. We should have the courage to stand up to bad behaviour and talking openly about these issues is the first step to creating change. We’re all just people with different talents, so let’s embrace everyone equally.
What do you think is the most important gender issue facing women in the UK today?
There isn’t any one issue, in my opinion. It’s a complex thread of historical ideas and ignorant thinking. A lack of fearlessness, from both genders, keeps things from moving forward as it should. Fear stops us from becoming great. We must be gender-blind in order to create true equality.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and would give to young women today?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is: ‘Don’t be afraid to fail’. Be brave, share openly and don’t listen to your internal dialogue. Create what it is you want in every aspect of your life, focus on it and be fearless. Great things happen to brave people.
Do you think that UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassadors such as Emma Watson have helped to change opinion where it really matters?
Yes, it’s an absolute no-brainer. I believe it’s hugely important to have strong role models from every sector of society and across the world.
As a successful person, which women have particularly inspired you?
My mother, who worked in medicine, is a huge inspiration to me. She is 100% satisfied, content and at peace. She gives to the people around her unconditionally, regardless of who they are, where they’re from, which gender they are, what they have or what society has said they’ve achieved. Other inspiring women in my list would include Wangari Maathai, Boudicca, Benazir Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai, all fearless game-changers.