6 Women powerhouses to inspire you this international women’s day

Evidence now suggests that gender diversity at management level enhances a company’s performance. This statement is supported by loads of studies. The Peterson Institute for International Economics in the US, for example, completed a survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries and found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins. Likewise, according to the GFP Index, Fortune’s ‘most admired’ companies have twice as many women at the senior management level than less reputable companies. Therefore, employing women seems to not only make organisations more profitable but better respected too.

We’re not surprised by these findings. Who is really? Of course, diversity, in all things, just makes sense. Companies that are diverse, in terms of both gender and also other aspects such as race and disability, are naturally going to be more innovative and all-encompassing in their approach to whatever it is they are promoting, selling or providing to the public. Despite these findings, however, inequality still pervades the modern workplace. According to Weber Schandwick’s Gender Forward Pioneer Index, only 10.9% of senior executives in the world’s largest 500 companies are women. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done. The glass ceiling remains.

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, the (very gender diverse) ROI (ή) team has compiled a list of just a few of the many women we are inspired by daily. Alright ladies, let’s get in formation!

Melanie Perkins

Melanie Perkins is the CEO and co-founder of wildly successful online design software Canva. She built the company from scratch, with the simple idea that design should be accessible and easy, and grew it into $3-billion business by age 30. The Australian entrepreneur writes a wonderful piece about being an ‘outsider’ (Melanie is young, female, Asian and from the relatively small Australian city of Perth) and overcoming the odds to create something great in this article ‘A message for those who feel they’re on the outside”.

“I think it’s pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations. I haven’t met a single founder, or a single person who’s working towards achieving huge goals, that have had things handed to them on a silver platter. I think knowing that everyone is struggling to make things work, and feels like they are on a rollercoaster and pedalling as quickly as they can, is mightily powerful. Knowing it’s tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles, somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it’s most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this” 

Melanie Perkins

international women's day Melanie Perkins
Image Source: https://womensagenda.com.au/

Alice Bentinck

Co-founder of Entrepreneur First, Alice supports technology startups across Europe. The firm, which has so far helped more than 2,000 people create 300+ companies worth a combined $2bn, helps entrepreneurs start their technology businesses – finding them co-founders and assisting them to develop their ideas and successfully create their companies. It is the world’s leading talent investor.

In addition to her work with Entrepreneur First, the ambitious UK-born powerhouse has co-founded Code First: Girls, an organisation that provides part-time coding courses to females across university campuses. Alice Bentinck is just 33-years-old.

She says: “One of the big changes that technology has created is that it’s now never been easier to start your own company. Technology has made it easier and cheaper to build a startup that not only can get off the ground but that can impact hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, basically from your bedroom.”

Alice Bentinck

6 Women powerhouses to inspire you this international women’s day Alice Bentinck
Image Source: https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/

Sarah Wilkinson

Sarah Wilkinson is CEO of NHS Digital, the executive body of the Department of Health which provides information, data and IT systems for health and social care nationally. Before that, she was chief technology officer (CTO) at the Home Office, where she led many of the most critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing.


In each of the last four years, Sarah has been named within the top ten in the TechUK 50, Computer Weekly’s annual ranking of the Top 50 Most Influential Leaders in the UK IT Industry. She was also named Chief Digital Officer of the year in 2017 by the CDO Club, the world’s largest community of C-suite digital and data leaders. In 2016, she was named in the CIO 100, CIO Magazine’s ranking of the most transformative and disruptive CIOs in the UK.

Talk about an impressive resume!

We couldn’t find any quotes regarding this spectacular woman’s success, so please do get in touch Sarah as we’d love to hear more! You’re a true inspiration.

international women's day - Sarah Wilkinson
Image Source: https://www.digitalhealth.net/

Turia Pitt

To say that mining engineer, humanitarian and motivational speaker Turia Pitt is an inspiration would be the understatement of the year. After getting stuck in an out-of-control grassfire while competing in a marathon and suffering burns to 65% of her body, this force-to-be-reckoned-with from Australia set out to prove that obstacles can be overcome no matter what. Despite undergoing more than 200 surgeries and spending months of her life in hospital during which doctors told her she’d never walk again, Turia persisted. Six years later she has travelled the world giving motivational speeches, trekked the Inca Trail and competed in the Ironman World Championships, to name just a few feats. And what have you done today?!

One of our favourite quotes by Turia:

“As much as we can surround ourselves with like-minded and amazing people, and as much as we can create a really good support team for ourselves, at the end of the day whatever you’re trying to achieve in life, you’re the one who actually has to do the work.”

Turia Pitt

international women's day - Turia Pitt
Image Source: https://www.turiapitt.com/

Sarah Blakely

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Sarah Blakely

This quote exemplifies the refreshing approach taken by Sarah Blakely, who founded the now multibillion-dollar women’s intimate wear company Spanx from her home in Atlanta, Georgia back in 2000, with just $5000 of personal savings. Sarah recognised a gap in the market, came up with the name ‘Spanx’ because it gave the perfect image of the kind of product she wanted to sell, and then designed and trademarked the logo herself. Sarah said: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can make pantyhose comfortable” and she did just that. She is now a billionaire and a fantastic example of how you should never discount your ideas and potential.

In 2006, the entrepreneur launched the SPANX Foundation to empower women through education, entrepreneurship and the arts. “I believe the world will be a better place when the feminine and masculine energy on the planet are more in balance,” she says.

international women’s day Sara Blakely
Image Source:https://www.forbes.com/profile/sara-blakely/?sh=3d286f5c76bb

Helen Milner

Milner is founder and CEO of not-for-profit the Good Things Foundation (formerly the Tinder Foundation) which aims to help the digitally excluded become comfortable using digital and online technologies. Following her 30-year career working on the internet and with communities, in 2012 Milner was inducted into the British Interactive Media Association’s Digital Hall of Fame, among many other accolades.

Helen has said: “The Government should show sustained leadership to tackle the three barriers to digital inclusion of motivation, skills and access.”

Helen writes an interesting and informative blog exploring issues of inclusivity on her website.

Image Source: https://www.linkedin.com/in/helenmilner/

We could really go on and on. These are just a few of the women, across varies geographies and sectors, who have inspired us lately. Happy International Women’s Day, all!


Lee Tobin, Marketing Expert

Lee is a professional storyteller. She uses a storybook approach to emotively communicate your organisation’s core messages to your target audience. She especially loves social media and believes that comms should always be bold.