#womenASCOA: Impactful Initiatives to Promote Women's Advancement in the Workplace

Initiatives to promote women should be a part of company culture, not just fads, said the panelists.


  • Tosh Butt, SVP, Latin America, AstraZeneca
  • Isabel Bueno, Partner, Mattos Filho
  • Connie de Lange, VP Communications and Corporate Marketing for the Global Cardiovascular Division, Medtronic
  • Laura Quevedo, HR Director Latin America & Caribbean, Diageo
  • Juliana Sguerra, Managing Director and Partner, Bogotá, Boston Consulting Group (moderator)

On the second day of the 9th Annual Women’s Hemispheric Network Conference, panelists discussed the importance of programs and initiatives that their companies have adopted to advance women in the workplace. Isabel Bueno said everything was modified when the relationship with the partners at Mattos Filho changed. “We decided that it was time for us to tackle differences,” she said. “The first one we decided to tackle was gender. Having men support the group that we created provided the change.”

Connie de Lange said Medtronic had seen challenges in finding diverse talent and created programs to address that. They launched Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) initiative, and three years after, there were 72 global groups in place to acquire diverse technical talent and foster a strong culture of inclusion. “Women are overrepresented in healthcare professions; they are underrepresented in engineering,” she said. “A lot of this is due to systemic barriers that women and minority groups face.”

Laura Quevedo noted that 10 years ago, Diageo’s entire board was male. Now, 55 percent of the board is female, thanks to efforts to diversify leadership as well as candidate pools, increased flexibility, and groundbreaking policies, such as their 26 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave.

Tosh Butt explained that AstraZeneca acknowledges there is a “competitive advantage” to female leadership, adding, “I think we need to think about how gender can intersect with factors such as race, ethnicity, [and] socioeconomic background so that all women are able to progress in their career with us.”

The panelists agreed that initiatives to help women should be part of company culture, not just fads. “It’s not that diversity’s the latest fashion statement—it’s how does this become the interwoven fabric of who your company is?” de Lange asked.

Learn more about the AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network.