3 Women, 3 Stories, 1 Message on International Women's Day

Did you know that there are almost as many women as men in the world?

Even though men and women have nearly the same headcount, there are unfortunately still areas and countries, in which women are still disadvantaged. While parity has come a long way in most Western countries, there are still countries that do not allow girls to obtain an education, for example.

Depending on the country and society, the differences are larger or smaller, and I have honestly asked myself, when (or if!), we will ever be able to stop talking about this.

3 impressive women from the Green Pearls network

For today’s International Women’s Day, I have interviewed two impressive and successful women from our Green Pearls network and asked, which experiences they have made and how they see the development of parity. They all made different experiences and shows the diversity on how countries developed on this subject. And it becomes clear: we have come far, but still have to take a couple of more steps.

Martha Schultz is a manager of the Schultz Gruppe, a group of companies under which also the green pearl Gradonna Mountain Resort stands. Since 2012, Mrs. Schultz is also Vice-President of The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.

Liza Masias is Director of Business Development at Inkaterra, a Peruvian hotel group who has committed to eco-tourism ever since its founding in the 1970s. The accommodations around Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, Inkaterra La Casona and Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica count as sustainability pioneers in Peru.

Leisa Kenny-Protsat has worked in Thailand for 13 years now and is currently General Manager at The Tongsai Bay, one of the first Green Pearls members.

Martha Schultz
Martha Schultz sees the power of change through collective initiatives.

Would you share a negative experience you had, that happened due to your gender.

Martha Schultz: My negative experience was not only because of being a woman, but also being young. When I was 23, I took over the travel agency office in our skiing area. One guest wanted to file a complaint and only wanted to speak with a man at a certain age.

Quote: “What? You are the managing director? A woman and young, this is a joke!”

Liza Masias: There is a small game a play with my male partners during business trips and are checking into a hotel. I bet them that they (both men) will get the upgrades or better rooms if available. And 9 out of 10 times, this is the case; they get the better rooms

Most staff positions assume that women have lesser positions in business and therefore assume that their travel business companions, even if younger, are the bosses.

Leisa Kenny-Protsat: Over the last 13 years in South East Asia professionally I have never felt gender inequality.

Having been a General Manager in Thailand for the last 8 and a half years the Thai people are very accepting of women in management and there is not one time I have felt even the slightest negative being a woman.

Previously I worked for a global brand where female employees often commented about the level of male domination in executive management and corporate management with the exclusion of Sales and Marketing. I worked with a lot of very strong and intelligent women over the years there and I have seen so many of these truly amazing women leave that company due to feeling gender inequality.

The wonderful thing, however, is watching some of these women over the last 16 years, some have grown into major global players in the hotel industry.

What talent that company had in their hands and lost due to a ‘boys club’ attitude, what gain the other companies who now have them as their leaders have.

Foto Liza Masias
Liza Masias calls for more awareness at the corporate level to recognize women’s contribution.

In order to achieve more parity, what do you think needs to be done?

Martha Schultz: A socio-political rethinking must take place and we are all in demand. Every individual, the members of families, the media, politics… it will only work collectively! And, it also especially needs role models, who support this rethinking!

Liza Masias: There needs to be more awareness at the corporate level to recognize women´s contribution and role in society. This may be accomplished faster if schools allow more children to discuss this in more depth and if regional and national governments increase regulation that permits women to take a more equal role in society.

Women by nature are more caretakers than men; it is natural. For this reason, we are seen as caretakers instead of leaders. It is a very difficult stereotype to change in all societies.

However, today, we are required to take on additional responsibilities in society without having the benefits that our male counterparts have. Of course, we have come a long way, but our daughters will still have to struggle.

Leisa Kenny-Protsat: Men and women both bring something different to the table in business, I believe there is indeed a difference in how we think and this is positive, especially for companies that fairly employ both.

Today is competitive and tomorrow will be more competitive so for companies that choose to marginalize their leaders and effectively their thinking by promoting and managing through a single gender I believe it can be detrimental for their long term success.

To achieve more parity we as the employee can be more savvy in choosing our employer, it should be part of the equation when seeking work. If a company has a male or female dominated culture in higher management and it can’t be clearly identified as to why in an interview situation than this may not be the company for you.

Allow such companies their ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ club and take your talents to a place they can soar and your gender is not a consideration. Once companies realize they are missing out on the edge of having both genders working for them more change will happen.

leisa tongsai bay
Leisa Kenny-Protsat has worked in South East Asia for over 10 years and has made several positive experiences.

What are your personal tips to women, in order to be successful?

Martha Schultz: Education is as important as strong confidence. Also, each woman should try to find a mentor! Own engagement in women networks is also a great thing, in order to go ahead together.

Liza Masias: Be self assured, stay calm, speak slowly, dress impeccably well and expect to be treated well. Do not offer to bring the coffee, make the copies, etc. Just because we are women in the modern workforce, doesn´t mean that we need to be treated like men. It is a very difficult fine line, because MEN do not like to be courteous and well mannered to women that are their equal at work.

As a recommendation, avoid late night parties with colleagues; have dinner and go to sleep. You need to be fresh in the morning; most men get ready faster and are up for breakfast meetings. 😉

Leisa Kenny-Protsat: To both men and women, believe in yourself, set your goals and don’t give up, and if you’re in and environment that does not embrace true long-term development based of what gender you are – take control and change.

Thank you to Martha Schultz, Liza Masias and Leisa Kenny-Protsat for sharing their views on International Women’s Day 2016.