7 March 2024

International Women’s Day 2024 – Inspire Inclusion!

Celebrating the pioneering women who broke the mould

International Women’s Day 2024 will be celebrating the female contribution to family, community and work all over the globe on March 8th. This year’s theme is to Inspire Inclusion, with the noble mission of spreading an understanding of how increasing the involvement of women in everything we do, will help to “forge a better world”.

And while inclusion of women in the workplace and community gives them a personal sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment, the characteristics they bring with them often make those environments thrive.

This has been a known fact for a while. Back in 2016, some great research was presented by Korn Ferry, which revealed some interesting data. For example, women are a whopping “86% more likely than men to be seen as using [emotional self-awareness] consistently.” Korn Ferry also showed that “women are 45% more likely than men to be seen as demonstrating empathy consistently”.

And when this is linked to determination, you’ve got a recipe for female success. Women throughout history have demonstrated this – a posthumous thank you, Harriet Tubman and Mother Teresa for their extraordinary contributions.

So, this year, to honour Inspire Inclusion, our mustard divisions are putting a spotlight on some pretty awesome women who led the early battles for a space in the workplace.


Lotte Reiniger – animator extraordinaire!

Historically, perhaps more than in any other of our divisions, pioneering women in VFX had a fight on their hands. Disney, for example, only credited their first female animator in 1942 – that was Retta Scott for Bambi, by the way.

But top of our list is a German woman named Lotte Reiniger. Born in 1899, this formidable and talented woman dodged the Nazis, while blazing a trail in animation. She’s generally recognised as the first female animator, and was one of the ground-breaking few to start using black silhouettes in their work. One of her many films is The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which was released in 1926 – that’s an impressive 11 years before Snow White, and is one of the oldest surviving animated feature films.

mustard FX salutes Lotte Reiniger!


Elisabeth Scott – a Built Environment leading light

The First World War accelerated change in many workplace environments, and the Architectural Association was no exception.

The devastating conflict slashed down the number of male applicants to the point where women were finally admitted in 1917. Subsequent campaigns by the suffrage movement resulted in architectural training for women on similar terms to men. This, in turn, created the springboard for the female impact on British architecture.

mustard BE has chosen Elisabeth Scott as one of the standouts, for her 1927 competition design for the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Picked out as the unanimous winner by the judges, Scott was the first woman to attain a prestigious and large-scale public commission. Her triumph wasn’t limited to claiming the competition prize, either – the theatre building was praised by the architectural press for its honesty and “freshness of thought”. She did a lorry-load more of impressive stuff too – click here for the full lowdown.

Bravo, Elisabeth Scott!


Caroline Jones – an American marketing legend

Born in 1942, Caroline Robinson Jones started out as a secretary in the real-life, white-male dominated world of Mad Men. Her star rose quickly, and by 1977 she was crowned as the first Black female VP of the major advertising agency BBDO. She spent her career fighting for the representation of people of colour in advertising, and “broke glass ceilings” at a number of agencies.

Major name-droppable clients included McDonald’s, American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Prudential, Toys ”R” Us and the U.S. Postal Service.

As if that weren’t enough, she created the Kentucky Fried Chicken (AKA KFC) slogan, “We Do Chicken Right!” Her brief was to boost the brand’s visibility among African Americans in the New York region, but her slogan performed so well that it snatched the lead role in all of its national ad campaigns. No wonder she ended up with her own company, brand name Caroline Jones, Inc., of course!

Tragically, in 2001 Caroline passed away at just 59 years of age from breast cancer, but not before creating her extraordinary legacy to racially diverse women in the workplace.

mustard MD takes a low bow to Caroline’s unique talent and contribution to equality.


Florence Knoll – reimagining office interiors through a Modernist lens

Florence Knoll Bassett lived by her famous adage, ‘No compromise, ever’. Born in 1917, she earned her degree in architecture in 1941, before briefly working with leaders of the Bauhaus movement, including Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer.

With this formidable initiation into European Modernism, Florence perfected her sharp eye for colour, form and space, and dedicated her life’s work to interior spaces and furniture. This ultimately led her to revolutionise the design of America’s postwar corporate office. She accomplished this using sleek furniture, artistic textiles and a minimalist, free-flowing layout.

Knoll Associates, the company which emerged as a partnership with her husband, Hans Knoll, set a new gold standard for aesthetic refinement in America. As the creative mastermind at the company, Florence developed Knoll’s signature style, which became known as the ‘Knoll look’.

And if all this sounds familiar, it’s because her innovation still has an impact on office design today.

mustard ID remembers Florence for her Modernist blueprint of cutting-edge interior design for the office.


Kate Hall – England’s first female museum curator

Kate Hall, a Victorian with attitude, didn’t get off to a shining start – her obituary noted that she flunked university because her Latin was woeful. But academia’s loss was the East End of London’s gain. Her education combined with her passion for the natural world impressed on her the importance of making it available to everyone.

In 1893, aged just 32, Kate was appointed as curator of the Whitechapel Museum, which enabled her to launch museum education in the East End. This brand-new community hub focused on teaching poor children through interacting with nature. Kate filled the museum with living plants, animals and even a beehive.

As a forward thinker, Kate encouraged visitors to handle the exhibits, as she believed that education was a natural consequence of direct experience. To accommodate the hard-working poor of the East End, Kate extended the museum’s opening hours to 10pm. It was such a success that there were a reported 104,406 visitors in two years.

mustard XP would like to reassess Kate’s legacy, not just as someone who holds the title of “first female museum curator”, but as a maverick for museum education. Kate took the teaching possibilities of a museum into the heart of the poverty-stricken East End. And in doing so, she revealed the natural world to those who needed it most.

How about you?

Have these amazing women given you ideas of your own? Or do you recognise their determination to change their industries for the better? If so, our teams at mustard would love to have a chat about the employers we recruit for, who are looking for someone just like you!

So, call us now – our hotline is 0117 929 6060.



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