Waving the baton in favor of greater diversity
DEIDiversityDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory
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October 31, 2017
DEIDiversityDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory
On the matter of gender equality, it is possible to establish a connection and show that one world is a microcosm of the other
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Valor Economico

The Valor article, “Waving the baton in favor of greater diversity," featured the firm's event on Diversity and Inclusion hosted in the São Paulo office. The event featured the firm's research, "Diversity and Inclusion Pulse: 2017 Leader’s Guide," and a performance by famed conductor Marin Alsop. A translated excerpt of the article is below. 

When hearing an orchestra that she conducted for the first time, legendary maestro and mentor Leonard Bernstein said: “When I close my eyes, I almost forget you’re a woman.” What for him was regarded as a compliment, for her, one of the most successful conductors in the world who even got to conduct two Orchestras at the same time – the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra (Osesp) – that sounded surprising. “I had never stopped to think that a woman could conduct in a different way,” said Marin Alsop, amused, in a room with 50 female executives and some male executives gathered at the event “Diversity and Inclusion” hosted by consulting firm Russell Reynolds. 

Marin says that she has a lot to share with the business world from her experience in the music world. “On the matter of gender equality, it is possible to establish a connection and show that one world is a microcosm of the other,” she stated, after the meeting in the impressive São Paulo room at the headquarters, just before another rehearsal with the Osesp. 

In the conversation with the group, Marin shared part of her story, which is unmatched in the music world. She went from a prodigy who already played the piano at two years old, the violin at five, and then decided to be a conductor at the age of nine, to later founding her own Orchestra. “When I decided to practice conducting, I had to call some 40 musician friends to my house, since conducting isn’t something you can do alone,” the 61-year-old New Yorker said. “But it didn’t take long until they got tired of me and of having to go to my house. So, to be able to continue working, I had no alternative but to found the Concordia Orchestra.” 

For the conductor, entrepreneurship was born of necessity, as in the case of most women who do not find space in the formal market. “As a minority, we often have to create our own future,” she says. 

She shared that the first time that she truly felt difficulties in her career due to being a woman was when she saw her application declined for a conductor’s course, at the renowned Tanglewood Music Festival in the United States. She had a total of four refusals by the time she was 30. “Determination and persistence; that is the only way to overcome those obstacles,” she says. And those are qualities Marin doesn’t lack. Not only was she able to overcome that obstacle, but was also named the best conductor of the festival and had the honor to be the first woman to win that award. 

To read the full article in its original Portuguese​​, click here.