Kaldec’s comments were made during a panel session hosted by agency group IPG and the Women’s Leadership network. The panel also featured cookery and media entrepreneur Martha Stewart, McCann Erickson Shanghai chief creative officer Carol Lam and Weber Shandwick vice chairman Gail Heimann.
“Although the company has seen a significant increase in female vice presidents of 30% since 1995, there is work to do,” said Kaldec.
“We can win when we start showing a business case. Women are the biggest emerging market in the world and you can’t ignore that. If consumer insights are key, you need to have that diversity of thought on your team.”
However, she added that some companies’ policy of forcing diversity was not the answer. She said studies had highlighted different factors preventing women from reaching senior roles, such as working hours and children; but that there is also a mindset of being unsure about pursuing such a career track.
Kaldec added: “Work life balance is not about juggling, but playing catch. You have to partner with people to achieve things. Women can have it all, but they can’t have everything. The towels at home might not get folded. A project might not be done to the deadline you would have liked.
“Will we still be talking about this in 10 years time? Maybe. The numbers might be different. But it’s never going to be easy, for anyone, men or women.”
Weber Shandwick’s Heimann said women were not used to displaying the same “swagger” as men in their careers and needed to adopt this more. Meanwhile, McCann Erickson’s Lam said that a talent gap in China meant gender discrimination was a “luxury” it couldn’t afford.