International Women’s Day is an annual chance to celebrate women’s achievements and resilience, and to remind ourselves that the battle for equality is ongoing every single day.

This year’s theme is Inspire Inclusion. But what does that mean?

When women aren't present, we must ask: "If not, why not?" When women are discriminated against, we must call out poor practice. When the treatment of women is not equitable, we must take action.

And we must do this each time, every time.

As the IWD website says: “When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, they experience a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment.”

At TMW, one of our goals is to continue to build a sense of belonging within the agency, creating an environment that is inclusive and empowering. With that front of mind, we hosted three ‘fireside chats’, delving into lived experiences of neurodivergence, perimenopause and the menopause, and parenthood.


Lived realities, limitless futures: discussing the female neurodivergent experience

As many of us know, ‘neurodivergent’ is an umbrella term used to describe those with autism, dyslexia and ADHD, among other things. According to the CIPD, as many as 20% of people may be neurodivergent in some way.

Medically speaking, the diagnostic criteria for neurodiverse conditions are often based on how they present in young boys. Sadly, that means it’s common for girls to fall through the net. When women do seek a diagnosis, doctors often attribute their symptoms to anxiety, depression, or a fluctuation in hormones. They don’t typically dig deeper, leaving many women frustrated and struggling.

What some people might be unaware of is that neurodivergence can be inherited. Our guest, Natalia Kasnakidis, mentioned that some women have their ‘lightbulb moment’ when their children get diagnosed – as it puts their own symptoms into context.

Our event speakers Kelly and Natalia spoke about the various challenges that come from being undiagnosed – the insecurities that can crop up, the way people start to question everything about themselves and their behaviours, and why life seems to be such a struggle. It can have a lasting impact on self-image and self-esteem too.

Natalia was also keen to note that:

“When you've met one person with ADHD, you've met one person with ADHD. And I think that's true of everyone who is neurodivergent.”

Discovering you’re neurodivergent is more than just a diagnosis – it can be the key to understanding yourself. Natalia and Kelly discussed how it can help you unlock your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses, and learn how to create a life that better suits your needs.

They also emphasised how important it is for organisations to support their staff, without demanding individuals share their diagnosis. Statistics from the Bloom network show that around 20% of neurodivergent employees have experienced harassment or discrimination at work because of their neurodivergence. And neurodivergent women are twice as likely to experience symptoms of stress, anxiety and burnout as neurotypical women in the industry.

Ultimately, finding people you can relate to and connect with is crucial to finding success. Both Natalia and Kelly recommend seeking out connections, with organisations like The Bloom Network being wonderful places for support. And it’s crucial to keep talking about neurodiversity and supporting our neurodiverse colleagues – because enabling ourselves and each other to bring our full selves to work helps everyone.

If you’re curious about the topic of Neurodivergence or are looking for support, we’ve included some great resources at the bottom of this post.

The Menopause and Perimenopause

Lived realities, liberating confidence: discussing the menopause and perimenopause

It’s estimated that there are around 13 million perimenopausal or menopausal women working in the UK.[1] Around 80% of these women will experience any number of 48 physical and psychological symptoms and it will sadly take a hefty toll on 1 in 4, seriously affecting their career, confidence, ambition and progression.[2] Around 20% of women leave their jobs due to overwhelming symptoms.

Thankfully, and in large part due to the campaigning of groups like The Red School and The Bloom Network, the professional world is finally taking notice. HR professionals and inclusion specialists are realising how serious perimenopause and the menopause are, and how they can adversely affect women in the workplace.

Our panellists – Georgie Eley and Louise Forster-Smith – spoke about their real, lived experiences from a place of total honesty, from experiencing a slew of seemingly unexplainable changes in their mental and physical health, to realising they were actually experiencing symptoms of perimenopause. At times, the stigma attached to the menopause and perimenopause can feel similar to the negative attitudes surrounding mental health, with Georgie commenting that:

“You don’t want to be seen as the weak link or be stereotyped and so… you sort of don’t say anything.”

This can mean those going through the menopause and perimenopause will ignore their symptoms and try to push through – causing more harm than good.

Our panel discussed how perimenopause and the menopause are not confined to hormone shifts and how they had to re-evaluate everything – from nutrition to new exercise routines that cater to a changing body.

One of the most salient things that emerged from their chat was the importance of taking time for yourself throughout this change and how crucial it is to make room for all the layers in your life. Your lunch breaks are like gold dust and quiet evenings are priceless – especially when you find yourself in the midst of fatigue and serious brain fog.

So, how can we support someone going through perimenopause or the menopause? It can be as simple as asking that person what they need, what you can do to help, and having a little empathy for their situation. When you keep in mind that the menopause can create volatile mood shifts, much like puberty, you begin to get an idea of what’s going on.

If you feel like you’re edging towards perimenopause or the menopause, our panel recommend familiarising yourself with the symptoms and trying to understand what’s happening – Davina McCall has written a book about it (Menopausing), and there’s also a series on Channel 4 called The Change that adds a little humour to what can be a rather tough experience. 

We hope to keep this discussion going – after all, perimenopause and the menopause impact 51% of the UK population.

If you’re looking for resources or support regarding perimenopause or the menopause, we’ve included some great resources at the bottom of this post.


Lived realities, enriched experiences: discussing parenting and motherhood

Juggling parenthood and work can be a minefield – especially when you consider the stressful nature of advertising, the long hours and the late nights. According to research from Bloom, 20% of mothers don’t feel supported by their colleagues and bosses in keeping a work-life balance. And when it comes to receiving help, 55% said they need more support from employers and colleagues to be the working mum they want to be. Organisations like Pregnant then Screwed also say that ‘by the time a woman’s first child is 12 years old, her pay is 33% less per hour than a man’s’.

Our panellists, Sapna Mehta and Maninder Paul, discussed some of the difficult experiences they had upon returning to work after having children. The initial return can be difficult, as you may feel that you can’t do anything right and that everything in society is working against you – especially in the workplace. This can be doubly hard if you’re younger or starting out in your career as you’ll have fewer role models at the same career stage and fewer peers dealing with similar circumstances. That’s why it’s crucial to make connections and find people who know what you’re going through.

Both Sapna and Maninder remarked how bosses and managers set the standard to help parents excel at work. When those higher up in the company are blocking out their calendars, it begins to normalise childcare – which is crucial.

Hybrid working has also changed the game for working parents, adding a level of flexibility to life that has freed them up to be better parents and better employees. It’s important to reject the idea that you must choose between being a parent and working. Sometimes 100% of your attention will be on your children, sometimes it will be on your work. And that’s a good way to think about it.

So, how can we do better? A good place to start is by leading with empathy, facilitating discussions (like this one) to bring the topic to the forefront, and recognising the power that flexible working has for everyone. We also need to keep the conversation going and be more empathetic towards our colleagues who are working parents. It might mean that they have slightly different ‘core hours,’ or they may log on later in the evening to finish their work, but it’s important to remember that they are fully playing their part, just on a slightly different schedule.  

If you’re looking for more information on the issues facing parents at work, we’ve included some great resources at the bottom of this post.

Discussing these pressing issues is key and normalising them at work is even more important. All these topics – neurodivergence, perimenopause and the menopause and parenthood – change a person’s life and will obviously have knock-on effects when it comes to work. But what’s become abundantly clear throughout all our fireside chats is the importance of keeping a conversation going, making sure people know they are not alone, and encouraging and supporting everyone’s needs as much as we can.

That’s why we’re taking big steps toward building a sense of belonging at TMW and creating communities and groups within our organisation that can offer the support and encouragement that we all need to succeed.

A very warm thank you to all our hosts and panellists.

Lived realities, limitless futures – discussing neurodivergence with Kelly Badal and Natalia Kasnakidis

Lived realities, liberating confidence – discussing the menopause and perimenopause with Emma Woodrow, Georgie Eley and Louise Forster-Smith

Lived realities, enriched experiences – discussing parenting with Ollie Mustill, Sapna Mehta and Maninder Paul

[1] NHS England:,can%20last%20for%20several%20years.

[2] Unison: