It’s a daunting topic, ‘a century of women in advertising’.
There are so many things I could say and so many angles I could look at this topic, but on International Women’s Day, I think we should talk about men.
Often, in our industry and the wider world, the conversation about gender inequality becomes very ‘us against them’. In reality, these issues will never go away unless we involve men in the conversation too.
International Women’s Day has brought a huge conversation to a mainstream audience about gender inequality. It’s particularly prevalent in our industry, with only 32.7% of C-suite roles being held by women.
The men we all know and work with aren’t just defined by their gender. They are dads, uncles, husbands, sons, boyfriends and more. All of whom have a vested interest in supporting women in the workplace. To help create a working environment that represents everyone’s best interests and that is future-facing, it’s up to us to show them where they can help.
Recently a male friend told me that he had been involved in securing the promotion of someone who was about to go on maternity leave. While it’s sad that this still feels like a progressive move, it’s great that it happened as it sends out an incredibly positive message to the woman involved as well as to the wider company.
I was so proud of my friend taking ownership of a conversation that’s often labelled a ‘woman’s issue’, it led me to consider other ways men could be involved this international women’s day:
Fight the gender pay gap
Get involved in diversity and gender pay gap conversations. It’s great that women are leading these initiatives, but men should be involved too, especially when a lot of companies still have a majority male leadership team.
A male perspective is equally as important in helping to look at alternative ways of tackling the challenges and working out how to get other men involved. It’s not just a women’s problem, it’s a human problem.
This is advice from Mother and Papa Pukka in their recent Ted Talk around challenging stereotyping around flexible working. If you need to leave early to see your son or daughter’s school play, or need to leave at 5pm for childcare reasons, don’t apologise for it. Instead, ‘Leave Loudly’ and be more vocal. Showing the ‘dad side’ of you normalises working life for the mums too.
Having children is for parents, not just for mums
There’s a lingering taboo that women should be primarily responsible for childcare, which is often a reason women leave the industry after having children. Karmarama is part of Creative Equals’ Returnship Programme, which helps offer a route back into the industry for mums who have had an extended career break. Dads-to-be can help from the very start by making sure they take their full paternity leave. And we have the added support of Accenture’s shared parental leave to take advantage of.
Actively ask the women around you more questions, both at home and at work, to understand more about the pressures they face. How do they feel about their workplace? What would they love to change? What’s working well? Become more informed and think about what small changes you could do to help.
The more men can open up their eyes to the world around them, the more they’ll see opportunities in which they can make a difference.
Client Services Director