Spotlight: International Women’s Day

Your stories have power. They bring ideas to life and can shape how others see the world, and here at Hearts, we use stories to build community. 

This is one of many posts in our Community Spotlight Series, where we feature Hearts who identify with a group and have important conversations about how we can support one another. 

Throughout the series, we will work closely with these individuals to create an experience where they can share their culture with fellow Hearts. We’ll hear directly from them about their lives, the safe spaces they’ve created to live their truth, and how we can be better allies. 

And then we listen. 

Because more than ever, stories that celebrate our differences need to be heard.

A call to empowerment

Every year on March 8, the world comes together on International Women’s Day to recognize the social, economic, and political achievements of women. 

It is a time dedicated to celebrating the progress made toward gender equality while also serving as a call to action to accelerate gender parity in all areas of society. 

Here’s what we’re doing to recognize International Women’s Day at Hearts & Science:

  • Hidden Figures Movie Discussion (DATE TBD)
    Join us as we watch the captivating movie Hidden Figures. This film unearths the story of three female African-American mathematicians at NASA and how their stories reflect the challenges women face in modern workplaces. Following the movie, we’ll come together to learn, reflect, and discuss as a group.
  • Women’s History Month Forum (Tuesday, March 28, 2023)
    Listen as OMG DE&I hosts a roundtable discussion with female C-suite leaders across the OMG network, moderated by Chantell Haskins, VP, associate local investment director at PHD. They will be joined by Moana Tellbüscher, senior trends analyst at GWI, who will provide insights on how brands can better meet women’s needs. Sheri Crawley, founder and CEO of Pretty Brown Girl, LLC, will also share how she empowers Black and Brown girls through community activism.
  • Changing Her Story: Women Empowerment Event (Wednesday, April 12, 2023)
    Hearts & Science employees will come together in the NYC office to network with Bottomless Closet clients. Here we will provide an insider’s look into the world of advertising and media to empower women and provide them with an opportunity to practice networking skills. There will also be a virtual component where employees across all offices can digitally design custom planners for Bottomless Closet clients, offering them the necessary organizational tools and guidance to be on the top of their game.

Safe spaces to share

Sakhone seeks solace in deep connections

Sakhone Sayarath was born in Laos and grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand. When she was eight years old, she moved to the liberal and ethnically diverse city of Arlington, Virginia, with her family. There, she made lasting friendships and got to know people from diverse backgrounds.

In her traditional household of Southeast Asian culture, it was not a priority to spend time in American recreational events like football games or school dances. Instead, Sakhone and her siblings were taught to fulfill duties like household chores and schoolwork. 

As a female and the baby in her family, it was difficult to convince her parents to let her participate in these American events, but it was important to her, so she made every effort. She was honest about her wants and needs, voiced them respectfully, and eventually did take part in the things she wanted to. 

By maintaining a balance of speaking up while still learning from her family in other ways, she was able to build trust with them.

“Once I opened up my mind to what I wanted to do and what I felt comfortable with, I slowly was able to gain some trust with my parents.”

Sakhone currently works for Hearts & Science Miami in the digital audience planning department, where her team is made up of all women—which is like a “breath of fresh air.” She describes her “safe space” as less of a tangible place and more of an emotional place that comes from building deep connections with other humans. 

Among her coworkers, she’s been able to forge deep bonds through honest, vulnerable conversations and a genuine sense of teamwork. 

Coming from a culture where survival was the main goal, and there wasn’t space for vulnerability, she recognizes the importance of truly listening and understanding others’ experiences with a sympathetic heart.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of great people. Being able to connect with them in conversations and understanding their background through intimate moments fulfills me and makes me happy.”

Working in the fast-paced advertising industry, Sakhone reminds us not to neglect our mental health, to remember to stop and take care of ourselves, and to honor our humanity. 

When it comes to women’s empowerment, she believes that actions speak louder than words—that many fall prey to the cultural trends of buzzwords without really knowing how to follow through or actually lift others up. 

“People talk about women’s empowerment, and I’m all about it, but are you really about it? Are you really showing up when they really need you? Are you carefully listening to their flaws, vulnerabilities, and their sense of empowerment?” 

She continues, “Are you asking the right questions so you’re both learning about each other as women?”

Sakhone believes that to empower each other, we need to engage in self-love and self-healing first and foremost. From there, we can find authentic joy in others’ successes. For Sakhone, that self-healing has come from her safe space of deep connections with the women she works with as she practices deep listening and compassion for their stories.

When not working at Hearts & Science, Sakhone’s friends tease her about having “six million other jobs.” Sakhone credits her family for her strong work ethic and hustle, which they instilled in her from childhood.

After moving out to go to college in Miami, she took up cooking because she missed her mom’s food, and her friends began asking her to cater their special events. “Food is like feeding the soul,” she shares. She now owns two restaurants in Miami with her husband, selling fresh seafood at the farmer’s market on Saturdays. 

Pro tip: Sakhone encourages others to celebrate what they have with gratitude and humility. In her words, elevating women, specifically, begins with “paying more attention and being understanding of everything that we do.” That will look different for everyone, but in order to be an ally and help elevate women, she believes it is the foundation.

Jessica sees strength in herself and others

Jessica Mondragón grew up in Mexico with supportive parents who were intentional about offering equal opportunities to her and her siblings. While some female friends in her culture were denied what their brothers were given, Jessica was taught from a young age to have confidence in herself and her goals and to pursue the future she wanted.

“In my family, my parents always helped me to embrace my dreams and ambitions. Part of this is because of the influence of my strong mother—she is the one who takes the lead in our family.”

When she left for college, Jessica knew she wanted to bring her strengths into the field of data and analytics—a male-dominated industry. Her teachers shared how it used to be very difficult for women to break into the field. Thankfully, due to the ongoing influence of strong women over the years, Jessica expresses how much easier it was for her to pursue analytics now.

During her four years in school, she worked closely with a team of men and another woman on a series of projects. In these projects, she often took a leadership role, delegating tasks to those best suited to their individual strengths. It was here she felt that she found a safe space to collaborate.  

“Every part of the team had different skills to share and giving those strengths room to grow helped us to do better work as a team.” 

After she graduated, she started a job at Hearts & Science as a senior marketing science analyst. Here, she feels like she brings her strengths to the table in analytics every day—proposing new ideas and optimizations to improve results. 

She shares, “My teammates each bring different perspectives in the field. Everyone can balance the team and do better work as a team at the end of the day.”

Pro tip: Jessica encourages, “One thing we can do as women is to make people aware at work that we deserve the places and positions where we are. We need to show our worth and be proud of who we are beyond International Women’s Day.” 

Work should be a safe space too

Hearts & Science is dedicated to building a space where its employees are recognized and feel seen. There are many ways we are supporting inclusion efforts.

Here are two initiatives that we’re supporting:

  1. Participate in a network. Hearts & Science invites employees to access Omnicom’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) called Omniwomen—an ERG dedicated to promoting networking and career opportunities for and developing the skills of Omnicom’s future female leaders. Hearts is also proud to host the quarterly Heart’s Women’s Book Club, a space for women and allies to read new books, discuss trending topics, and network across the agency. For networking outside of the agency, all Hearts employees have free access to She Runs It, a group for women and allies in tech, marketing, advertising, and other industries to help build connections and engage in meaningful conversations.
  2. Show your support. Hearts & Science encourages making donations to support women-focused nonprofits that serve and empower the women in your community. Consider finding your own organization to support. 

Andriena Coleman, associate director of DE&I at Hearts & Science, shares, 

“Hearts is a workplace where new ideas can flourish. Together, this community of amazing individuals changes and grows through unique experiences and perspectives. Our differences are celebrated and truly invaluable to our organization.”

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us remember that it’s not just a day. It represents a rededication to recognizing the worth of women and accelerating gender equality in every aspect of society.