International Women's Day: An interview with Louise Butler, Global Head of Brand Protection at Diageo
1. Can you name one woman who has inspired you (in your field or other) and why?
Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland and came into her role at a time when Irish politics were very male-dominated. She was a huge inspiration to many young girls growing up in Ireland in the 1990s and continues to inspire through her work with the United Nations on human rights.
3. What are your top tips to other women to succeed?
Don’t allow self-doubt to hold you back. While not universally the case, I think women tend to experience this much more keenly than their male counterparts. It often reminds me of the saying, “oh Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man”!
4. How do you celebrate successes, your own and those of others?
Probably not enough!
5. What do you do, in your organisation or outside, to inspire the next generation of female talent?
I am very fortunate in that Diageo really promotes and encourages female talent. Our legal team is led by a female General Counsel and the wider team is predominantly female, which is hugely inspiring. On a personal level, I am deeply aware of the women who championed me along the way so I try to do the same for others where I can.
6. What wisdom would you have told your younger self, if you had the chance.
Tempus fugit - don’t sweat the small stuff!
7. Are women-led events and discussion panels useful?
Absolutely, both for the many interesting topics they cover and the opportunity to meet and engage with other women facing similar challenges in their working lives.
8. What is your advice to others to achieve a work / life balance?
It’s a tricky one and something I’m not sure I have achieved. I suppose the best advice is not to be too hard on yourself. I have a young son so I always try to be home in the evenings to spend time with him, even if this means logging back on after he has gone to sleep. It’s not perfect but it also won’t last forever so it works for me for now. If I try to be too strict about leaving work at the office, I find it causes more stress. However, this is a personal choice and everyone has a different situation so the best option is whatever works for you at this moment in time.
9. How can an organisation encourage gender equality, inclusion and diversity?
Diageo is probably the most inclusive and diverse organisation I have ever worked for. It is a topic which is front and centre for the business. Everyone is encouraged to get involved in the conversation, with INC. Week taking place annually in our head office, a week-long celebration of diversity and inclusion which features some really great events and speakers on the topic.
10. What can we as individuals do to create a future of gender balance?
Tune into your own unconscious biases. This is something I have only become aware of quite recently having attended an INC. Week event and the discoveries I made about myself were quite startling! Being aware of your unconscious biases allows you to try to avoid making decisions based on them, albeit not always easy!