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 for 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:

  • Black-Women-Owned Business Spotlight (Friday, March 15, 2024 @ 3:00 pm EDT)
    The Black Leadership Network will host a Black-women-owned business spotlight, featuring Hummingbird Catalyst Group and Rebundle, the first Black-owned, U.S.-made, plant-based braiding hair company.
  • OMG’s Asian Women in Leadership (Thursday, March 21, 2024 @ 2:00 pm EDT)
    The Asian Leadership Network will present an engaging roundtable featuring OMG’s Asian women in leadership. Join the conversation as they share insights into their career paths, interests, support systems, developmental resources, fun facts, and strategies for navigating challenges.
  • Hearts & Science + Her Campus Media: Inspire Inclusion (Monday, March 25, 2024 @ 3:00 pm EDT)
    In celebration and recognition of Women’s History Month, Hearts & Science will host an inspirational roundtable discussion featuring leadership from Her Campus Media and fellow Hearts leaders.


Safe spaces to share

Youna brings her full self to both work and motherhood

Youna immigrated with her family from Korea to the Bay Area when she was nine years old. Surrounded by a diverse and thriving Asian community, she quickly found a sense of belonging and familiarity among individuals who shared her background.

Her large extended family network would gather for holidays when she was a child. She recalls fondly that instead of turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, her family would share Korean food or sometimes go out to restaurants. 

Youna wasn’t completely sure of her career path when she started college at UC Davis in California but felt pressure from her parents to pursue a highly academic career, such as a doctor or a lawyer. She decided on Communications and Japanese out of her own interests.

“I loved Japanese, but I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of that as a major.”

Youna forged her own path and went into advertising—a profession she notes she doesn’t see many Asian women in. Today, she works as the Executive Director of Investing for Hearts & Science on the AT&T account in Atlanta, where she oversees a team of 170 people spanning five lines of business. 

Since moving to Atlanta, Youna notices it’s the first time she feels like a visible minority, but she keeps close ties to good friends in California. Youna’s safe space isn’t a location but a bond with five lifelong friends. Their support has been a constant through life’s ups and downs, emphasizing the power of connection without judgment. 

Youna is the mother of a four-year-old daughter, who she enjoys traveling with. Her daughter loves road trips and hotels. Youna’s family is still growing, and she’s expecting a second child very soon.

She reflects on the challenge of wearing multiple hats in life—motherhood and leadership in work. When questioned about feeling guilty for leaving her daughter during work, she clarifies that she doesn’t.

“You can’t be in two places at once. You can’t be your best self if you’re constantly worried about what you’re leaving behind.”

Youna believes you should mindfully bring your best self to work, and she enjoys supporting other women in the workplace. “If I see junior associates who are Asian, I just want to talk to them and make them feel like it’s a safe space.”

Pro tip: “I think that women supporting women is extremely important regardless of the color of your skin. If you do see another minority like yourself, don’t be shy to approach them and make a connection.” 

Denise defies tradition with fearless authenticity

Denise Marchitto grew up in a suburban area of Queens, New York. Her parents immigrated from Germany and Romania and, despite challenges, did whatever it took to provide for Denise and her brother and give them a comfortable life filled with love and tradition. 

When Denise’s parents first moved to New York, Denise’s mom worked late nights at a bakery and eventually became a stay-at-home mom. Her dad became a landlord, handling everything in his business from administration to DIY renovations. Denise reflects,

“I was lucky to have my parents around and in my life growing up. I saw the essence of their hard work every single day.”

As a teenager, Denise worked in the same bakery where her mom had worked, learning the value of hard work early. It was by her own means she was able to put herself through college and eventually earn her master’s degree. 

After a couple of years at her first job after college, Denise decided to move on to diversify her experience in the marketing industry. She wanted more. This shocked her parents, whose conservative expectations prescribed keeping one job for a lifetime.

This was just one way Denise pushed back against her parents’ traditional values. She later married her high-school sweetheart and recalls a conversation with her mother who told her brides typically have longer hair for their weddings. Denise—who loves rocking funky cuts—replied, “Says who?!” 

In her professional life, Denise carried on with her outspoken personality and unwavering work ethic, quickly progressing up the corporate ladder. She rejected the quietness and politeness expected of women. 

In a male-dominated industry, she encountered patriarchal narratives that implied she didn’t deserve full credit for her successes. 

“I’d love to go back to young Denise and tell her, ‘You deserved this.’ Ignore the men who tell you ‘you can’t,’ or it was because of them you got something.”

Denise has learned through mentors across the years to believe in the power of her voice and to use it as a force for equity. 

Today, as the Senior Director of Experience Planning at Hearts, she educates coworkers and clients about what it’s like to be a woman and a mother. Through understanding, Denise cultivates more empathy for mothers in the workforce. 

Speaking of motherhood, Denise feels safest and most authentic with the little family unit she has built for herself. Simple days at Coney Island bring her nearly to tears with love and appreciation.

Otherwise, outside of work, Denise has been reconnecting with her family roots. She makes sourdough loaves weekly with her grandfather’s master baking certificate hanging lovingly in her kitchen. Their home is in the same neighborhood she grew up in, and her parents live nearby and visit frequently.

Pro tip: Denise shares for other women: “Surround yourself with people who champion your authentic self. Don’t be afraid to amplify your voice—it matters. Don’t be afraid to appear more human because we all are.”

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 Hearts’ 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, 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.