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Women First - key takeaways from our 5th Annual online Conference

On the 14th of April 2021, Leaders First hosted its 5th Annual Conference Women First. Women First is an international initiative with the mission to amplify the voices of women in business and provide inspiration, advice and guidance. The event provided inspiring stories of women who achieved success in their professional life and are currently leaders in their respective industries.


Below are key takeaways from this online conference event. The full recording is available to Members of Leaders First on our online platform.



The event was hosted by Angela Antetomaso who is a TV Presenter and Journalist at Forbes, Author, Public Speaker.


Angela brilliantly guided us through all the stories presented by our female leaders and journalists.




We first were inspired by an insightful presentation “Overview on Female Leadership during Pandemic” skilfully delivered by Antonella Zangaro - Journalist and a writer, UK correspondent for Il Giornale and Il Riformista.


Antonella opened her presentation by raising these important questions:



  • Will 2021 be the year that the leadership becomes femine?

  • Is the feminine relational leadership going to be the new standard?

In favour of the femine natural leadership out of stereotypes, these questions are telling us that we are ready for this change by putting people first and by trying to take care instead of taking charge.

Antonella gave us a REALITY CHECK of the gender distance to parity which is now at 68%. And mentioned that during the pandemic women experienced a larger impact than men. That’s due to women most likely to run businesses in Consumer sectors, Non-Profits and Media & Communication; plus being working mothers, and also experiencing health problems.


Here is an overview of the gender gap in senior and managerial positions across the countries, presented by Antonella:



Despite all of this, Antonella pointed that there were positive opportunities, because some women took advantage of the pandemic and started businesses out of necessity because the timing was right for it.


So…Could 2021 be a tipping point for female leaders? Absolutely. And here is how

If companies make significant investments in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace they can retain the employees most affected by today’s crises and nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term.” - Concluded Antonella.




The panel of female leaders was opened by an interview with Barbara Cominelli - CEO Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Italia; Top 50 inspiring women in Tech in EU; Fortune Business person of the year 2020. Barbara inspired the audience by focusing on the importance of change, taking risk, having international exposure and innovation.



Taking as example her 20 years of experience as a Leader, she mentioned the importance of meritocracy in choosing a work, which is the best friend of equality.


Barbara gave us a perspective on the skills and values to be a good female leader:

  1. Promoting ambition, growth mindset, learning from mistakes and not being afraid to fail.

  2. Avoid perfectionism, being confident to start and proposing put yourself forward when you are even just 80% ready, and away from your comfort zone.

  3. Collaboration, always being a team leader, engaging the team, listening to the team and taking decisions after all contributions.

Barbara also mentioned the challenges faced during the pandemic by working remotely, and the importance of being flexible in timing, by highlighting the role of the communication coming from a leader, as well as care and support.


When it comes to women to be suggested formanagerial roles,Barbara underlined that having a family does not mean that there's no ambition anymore, and the necessity to reconsider often inaccurate views of women managers as being too bossy or too emotional; as well as the importance for women supporting other women's growth.



The third speaker was Asma Bashir - Investor, Speaker, Judge, Chairman at Centuro global, who shared with the audience her personal experience, from a perspective of building a career as a female from ethnic minority.


Asma inspired the audience with her courageous choices to leave behind the controlled environment and limitations she was put in since young age.




When she broke stereotypes and entered the corporate world, and eventually started a family she then realized again that the limitations were also in the world of work. Willing to have flexibility she was motivated to start her own business.


Asma pointed out the importance of self beliefs, the motivations above the unknown, and how pushing down the boundaries led her to an inspiring life which finally guided others. She also underlined the importance of balancing family life and the career, in being an entrepreneur. Her suggestions for the minority groups is to find supporting people, push the boundaries, and don’t be afraid to lose the connections and support.



Another innovative and inspiring experience was shared by Kristina Babina - Swiss Entrepreneur, Founder of Babin Holding, TotUP daycares and primary school & TotUP family sport center & beauty salon. Co-founder of Artishow (bar-art gallery).

Kristina shared her personal experience of professional growth, starting with her educational path and setting up her first business at just 27.





Our 5 TOP Key takeaways of the Ed-Event:



1. Female leadership during pandemic overview:

  • During the pandemic women experienced a larger impact than men. That’s due to the number of facts. Though some women took advantage of the situation and set up their own businesses.

  • Companies should Invest in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace, in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential.


2. Skills and values to be a good female leader:

  • Growth mindset

  • Avoid perfectionism

  • Collaboration


3. How to overcome challenges to face during the pandemic:

  • The importance of flexibility

  • Communication, care and support from leaders

  • Psychological support to women

4. Women in business & Cultural stereotypes

  • Push the boundaries

  • Self beliefs

5. Women Cooperation & Support:

  • Women supporting other women's growth

  • Being above the competition & Improvement




We would like to thank our speakers for their contribution and our audience who joined the Conference from all over the world.

If you wish to receive full access to all online events, including educational webinars and masterclasses with industry leaders and members of our professional network, you can apply to become a member of Leaders First.