07 Mar 2024 News

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

7 minute read


At Compass Lexecon, we are committed to creating an inclusive and high-performing culture in which all employees can achieve their full potential. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our women’s achievements and inspire continuous efforts to maintain a culture that fosters inclusivity and diversity.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Inspire Inclusion,” emphasizing the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society. The theme underscores the crucial role of inclusion in achieving gender equality and calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected.

To honor this, we asked ten Compass Lexecon professionals to discuss what gender equality means to them, who inspires them, what advice they have for women interested in pursuing a career in economics, and how we can inspire inclusion in the workplace, today and every day.

Read our experts’ thoughts on these topics below.

Diversity and inclusion are the seeds of growth and innovation that help build and sustain a globally appealing company. By including different perspectives, especially of those under-represented groups, and fostering an inclusive culture, companies encourage mutual understanding, avoid biased decisions, and achieve greater success.

Vanessa Yanhua Zhang

What does “Inclusion” in the workplace mean to you?

We all have a diverse set of skills, a variety of experiences, and a distinct perspective to offer. I’ve come to learn that our differences are the source of our combined excellence. Inclusion is a celebration of those multitudes – around us, within us and because of us.

Kadambari Prasad

How does CL create an inclusive environment for all employees?

We wish to foster an inclusive work environment where acceptance of individual differences and equal opportunities are part of the fabric of Compass Lexecon. Our Diversity Committee, along with our affinity networks, provide platforms for open discussions and collaboration. Additionally, we actively address areas commonly affected by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other diversity dimensions. We do so through education and policies (e.g., on parental leave, hiring, and promotions) designed to reduce implicit biases in the workplace.

Lorenzo Coppi

What does celebrating IWD mean to you?

To me, International Women’s Day gives us a chance to pause and recognize the remarkable accomplishments of the women at Compass Lexecon, in the broader economics profession, and beyond. Equally, it is a reminder to recognize the inherent value in the diversity of talents and perspectives that people bring, while continually working toward a day when no one’s gender identity in any way limits the opportunities available to them.

Mark Israel

Why is it important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day holds particular significance for us at Compass Lexecon as we recognize the importance of diversity and inclusivity in all aspects of our work. Embracing International Women’s Day not only reinforces Compass Lexecon’s commitment to gender equality but also enhances our understanding of the challenges faced by women in our fields. By supporting initiatives that promote women’s rights and empowerment, we contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society.

Carla Banfi

Tell us about how you got into the competition economics industry.

I got into the competition economics industry after having met Prof. Chiara Fumagalli at University. Chiara was teaching the IO course during my B.Sc. and I got really inspired by the way she was showing us that theoretical economics could actually be applied to “real” issues. She is an excellent professor and transmitted me a lot of enthusiasm. At the end of the IO course, I started working with her as her RA. That way I got the chance to explore more the IO and competition policy universe and get passionate about this.

During my M.Sc. I did my internship at the European Commission DG COMP, where I had the chance to work in the merger unit led by Michele Piergiovanni, where I met a team of incredibly smart and talented individuals who made me understand that that was the job I wanted to do. At the end of my internship, I was offered to stay and move to the Chief Economist Team. That was another incredible experience where I had the chance to learn a lot.

I decided at that stage that I wanted to work in the best economic consulting firm in the market. It turned out to be Compass Lexecon. I still remember the day that, more than ten years ago, I walked into the CL office in Covent Garden and I thought that that was my place.

Martina Caldana

How can companies encourage more women to pursue a degree and career in economics?

To encourage more women to take up economics, companies should: (i) highlight the various areas of work where economics plays a role, such as sustainability which, according to research, tends to interest women more than men; (ii) showcase how women leaders in economics are making an impact both in the business and in the wider society; and (iii) emphasize teamwork and collaboration as important aspects of the job.

Lotta Väänänen

What are some obstacles that women face when pursuing a degree or career in economics? Do you have any advice for overcoming these?

One of the most significant obstacles to attracting women to careers in economics is the existing gender imbalance in the field. It can be difficult to envision a career if there are few examples to follow, and the lack of experienced female colleagues can leave the impression that it is difficult for women in economics to find mentorship, build robust networks, or navigate important life and career decisions. The best way to change the imbalance is to invest in women! I have been lucky to have amazing mentors who instilled in me that I should never assume change is impossible and always ask for what I need to be successful.

Catherine Barron

How can companies build a pathway for women to pursue leadership roles?

Relatively targeted interventions can make a huge difference: public statements supporting diversity, measures to support gender balance like pro-active efforts to attract female candidates, facilitating work-life balance, training, and increased accountability and commitment to diversity. Research shows that all these measures help narrow the gender promotion gap in organizations.

Elena Zoido

Over the course of your career, which female role models have inspired you, and what has been the best piece of advice you have received?

I have always been inspired by women who are fearless – by which I don’t mean that they never feel fear – but that they feel fear and do what they think is right anyway. When I started out in this profession there were few female competition economists and lawyers, but those few were pretty tough cookies! I am happy that these days there are some excellent female partners in most consulting and law firms, and some great role models in the authorities/academia like Sarah Cardell, Cani Fernández, and Amelia Fletcher.

In terms of public figures, I admire Gabby Logan, a British sports presenter. She joined Sky Sports in 1996… talk about a man’s world! She had to make her way in a sexist environment with the tabloids watching, and yet she persevered and has had a stellar career. She speaks out on issues that are important to her, and I know she is also a lovely person because I once saw her in the supermarket and told her how much she inspired me, and she gave me a hug!

The best and most timeless advice I have had is to be honest. If you need to have a difficult conversation, be honest. If you need to tell someone bad news, be honest. If you have made a mistake, be honest! Sometimes I need to remind myself of this advice when I am considering how to deal with certain situations. Also, be honest with yourself as well as with others… it may mean some short-term pain but in the long-term life will be much smoother.

Kirsten Edwards-Warren

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