Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021 – An interview with Eduvie Martin

Eduvie Martin has over a decade of experience in communications and reputation management for global brands and start-ups in Europe and Africa. She is the Global Internal Communications Manager working for British American Tobacco (BAT) based in London, UK. She serves on the IE University UK and Ireland Alumni board and is an Executive Director for Africa’s largest comic book start-up – Comic Republic. She loves creative writing, learning new things, cooking and exploring new cities. 

 

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, Laura Desert, IABC UK&I President-Elect and Internal Communications Lead at CityFibre interviewed Eduvie Martin, Global Internal Communications Manager at British American Tobacco to find out more about her perspective on gender in the communications industry and what needs to change.

 

I’ll start off with some quick fire questions for you Eduvie! What did you dream of doing when you were a little girl?

As a little girl, I was always the most enthusiastic, optimistic one in the room. I believed I could do anything I set my mind to – I still do. I wanted to be a writer who was a professional singer that also worked as a broadcaster for CNN, MTV or E!

I eventually settled for a career in communications which is sometimes like being a writer who works for a cable channel. I still sing in the bathroom, so I guess that worked out too.

 

If you could have dinner with one famous woman, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Michelle Obama. I’d like to have a chat with her about managing unconscious bias and how to  maintain a home while building a career and living with a successful life partner.

 

Now for the meatier questions – How did you find your way into a career in the communications industry?

I fell in love with communications from an early age. It was reflected in the way I articulated my thoughts, the embarrassing diary I kept with my written poetry that must never see the light of day and the way I loved hosting events for family and friends.

In my teens, I was emceeing at college events, weddings and birthdays.

I started to read more about communications while in my third year as a science student at University. I went on to discover the value of associations, seminars and focus groups in helping one to understand effective communications.

My comms career kicked off in banking. I was a management trainee who spent all of her salary on comms courses at the Lagos Business School!

One day, opportunity met preparation when the bank advertised a role in the Marketing and Communications department. I went into the meeting with the hopes of landing an event manager role and found internal comms instead.

Looking back at that interview, I recall being in a room with three women who recognised my passion, took a chance on me and accepted me as the very first internal comms hire at the time.

Three years in, two women supported my career yet again when I was nominated for the Africa Integration project in the bank, leading the comms efforts during our acquisition of five subsidiaries in five African markets in two years!

I later moved from banking to the Fast-moving consumer goods industry (FMCG) which I’ve been in for five years now. Internal Comms is not easy, but it’s hard not to love a role that gives you an opportunity to really have an impact on your colleagues.

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I have celebrated International Women’s Day in my role as Internal Comms Manager across industries for more than 10 years thinking about the activities that will bring my colleagues joy. So, if I’m being honest, it’s a day that really does feel like work!

If we strip away all the planning, it’s a day that helps me reflect on where we are on our journey towards a more gender diverse world. Sometimes, I get lost in the words from different organisations amplifying all the achievements. I am however jolted wide awake by the realisation that there is a lot more left to do. I am passionate about using International Women’s day to highlight actual achievements in different industries and amplify clear examples across multiple channels.

I am thrilled that my role allows me to do this.

 

Photo of Eduvie Martin

 

Advocacy, inclusive mindsets, and tangible action are needed from all. Communications has a high proportion of female professionals, but how can male comms professionals support their female colleagues?

I think our male colleagues can be more alert to recognising bias against their female colleagues. It’s sometimes hidden in the jokes, the water cooler chats, and can be unconscious too. They can also look at creating enablers that equip women with the necessary skills to take up leadership positions so that when these opportunities come up, there are qualified women to fill them up. It’s about being the voice that speaks reason in the rooms that they already occupy.

 

What are you doing to celebrate IWD 2021 at your company, and what has been your role in supporting this initiative?

I count myself privileged to work for an organisation that fosters a diverse and inclusive workforce. Being a part of the planning committee on all the activities building up to the International Women’s day celebrations this year has been intense but no doubt the highlight of my month so far!

Celebrating in a virtual world has enabled us to get more creative. We are hosting a truly global event with a virtual panel of inspiring women from inside and outside our organisation, streaming live to more than 50,000 employees.

We’ve started to showcase inspiring women and men who promote an inclusive culture and spark conversation about everyone’s responsibility to choose to challenge.

We’ve also planned local activities in our end markets from weekly webinars, to cocktails, lunch and learn sessions, charitable events, gifts for employees and so much more.

Employees will also have access to a special IWD-themed online playlist with useful insights they can listen to all month.

Among other channels, we have created a dedicated SharePoint page regularly updated with activities across our markets, as well as live Yammer feeds to capture all activities in these virtual times.

It’s going to be an exciting month dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion at BAT.

 

How important is it for women to lift each other up?

I have always been surrounded by sisters and outstanding female bosses who have done everything to lift me up. Good people (of all genders) do and should lift each other up. It is our collective responsibility to identify opportunities to open doors for each other.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Eduvie! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes – I truly believe that the only thing stopping you is you. Anything you set your mind to do, you can.
I urge everyone reading this interview not to be discouraged when you walk into a room and see no one else that looks like you. You’ve earned this space, now own the room. You can do this.
And while you are in the room, never forget your journey and how you got there. Be kind. Give back. Be true.
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