I lead external communications for the European Chemical Industry Council. Outside of work, I like spending time with my two daughters and getting on with my triathlon training (whenever I have time:) 

Maria Linkova-Nijs
Communications Director, The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic)

What inspired you to work in the international association sector?  

What inspires me is the range of topics that one deals with working in an international 

association. You also feel you can make a difference for the industry as a whole as you often act as a bridge between your members’ business agenda and wider political context and implications. 

On a more personal level, an international association in Brussels is a sure way to meet people from all across the world with interesting backgrounds and a creative mindset. 

Can you remember a time when you needed to #BreakTheBias? 

I try to break it every day by acting as a role model to other women.  

Women often hear ‘you can’t have it all’ implying that you can’t combine various aspects of a fulfilling life (a career, multiple children, hobbies). I have always had troubles with this phrase so my thinking’s always been « well, somebody may not have it all, but I WILL ». And I do. And if I can, anyone can. Yes, there will be setbacks, yes there will be nay-sayers but you just need to carry on doing what you are doing. It is that simple (or not simple at times). 

We need more female leadership to advance not only the work of associations, but also world peace. This is ample research showing that women do have a positive and significant impact on peace and that when women participation improves peace negotiations and makes peace agreements less likely to fail. The same is valid for conflict prevention in the first place. So promoting women to leadership positions is not only a “women’s agenda” but a top priority for anyone who wants peace and security worldwide.

How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations?  

It is paramount for any organisation nowadays. Numerous studies show that it not only improves decision making and creative thinking but it also helps attract more diverse talent. And considering that people are the backbone of any association, we need talent from various backgrounds and experiences within associations to drive our mission. This is diversity.  

Next to this, we need to ensure that all people regardless of their background, demographics or work style are given equal access and equal opportunities to contribute to the success of an organisation and to rise, if they wish so, through the ranks. This is inclusion.  

What concrete actions have helped you promote DEI? 

In Cefic we are taking a lot of important steps to ensure we stay an inclusive association. We have a diversity & inclusion working group and are working on a programme of trainings on this very important topic.