International Women’s Day and the leaders building the industry up one day at a time

International Women’s Day was yesterday, and to celebrate five of our industry’s top women gave us their thoughts on the issues we’re still facing in 2020 how we can better support the new and existing women in our industry.

(Pictured from L-R: Upper – Jen Rolfe & Deborah Pead. Lower – Monica Wales, Catherine Harris & Bex Radford.)

How do you think our industry can best celebrate our women this International Women’s Day? 

Deborah Pead, founder and chief executive officer of Pead PR:

“I’d like to see all industry leaders commit to gender equality in the workplace and confirm their gender diversity stats.”

Bex Radford, creative partner & Monica Wales, head of media for BC&F Dentsu:

“Take a good hard look at the data, before making a call on whether your organization is truly equal it comes leadership, pay and dare we say it emotional labour. Good intentions and gut feeling won’t get us beyond our unconscious biases.”

Jen Rolfe, founding partner of Rainger & Rolfe:

“It’s a challenging thing to say but I would we grateful if our industry sat down and had a good long, hard look at pay parity. The research across many industries suggests that women are underpaid by around 10 to 20 percent.

“Perhaps it starts with recognising that there is unconscious bias.  Then thinking about how one of our industry bodies could aggregate anonymously our individual employment data to provide some indications and guidelines for employers and employees.”

In your space, what are you doing to encourage and inspire the women around you?

Catherine Harris, chief executive of TBWA:

“Here in New Zealand we have a team of strong female leaders; our GM, our MD of Eleven and our MD of DAN are all amazingly talented and inspiring female leaders. For this to happen and to work well, the men in our agency and in on our leadership teams – from our Global CEO Troy Ruhanen to my business partner Shane Bradnick – are all incredibly supportive of women.  They help create the right space for women to succeed and have fun doing it.”

Bex Radford & Monica Wales:

“Sometimes it feels like we’ve swapped one narrow gender script for another. It’s important we give the women around us permission to show up as themselves and write their own scripts about what courage, ambition and power look like, rather than choosing between being talked over or leaning in.”

Deborah Pead:

“This comes easily to us. We are a female-led business, all four partners are women and we lead by example. Through our sense of fair play, our courage and our commitment to best practice we have inspired many women to achieve their goals to become leaders in their field and many have gone on to lead other agencies or started their own business.”

What would be your best point of advice for women starting in our industry?

Jen Rolfe:

“Commit yourself totally to your passion.  (And if it’s not your passion, go find what is.). Work hard and give everything you’ve got to it.  For most of us, our careers might stop and start a bit so you’ve got to get into it. Today. It might not seem like it but every day does count. And in the same vein, when there are opportunities to do more, take them. Don’t wait for it to be 100 percent right or for someone to invite you.”

Catherine Harris:

“Have an opinion and express it. Don’t be intimidated by more senior people in a room, whether they be male or female. Your voice and your perspective matters, so make it heard. When expressing opinions, you’ll find some people won’t like it, and that’s okay. But you’ll be more surprised by how many people will like it.”

Bex Radford & Monica Wales:

“Build yourself a village of allies, who’ll remind you of your worth during tough weeks and pay reviews, and a mentor who you can be honest with.”

What do you think needs to happen to increase the progressiveness of our industry?

Deborah Pead:

“Put more women on boards and more women into leadership roles and show zero tolerance for gender disparity.”

Catherine Harris:

“I think Clients are incredibly powerful here. Clients can choose partners who make work that presents women well and make ideas that have a positive impact on consumers and on communities.”

Bex Radford & Monica Wales:

“Everyone agrees we need more senior female leaders in our industry, but in order to make that happen, we need to be open to women building careers that look less like ladders and more like squiggly lines.”

Jen Rolfe:

“I think role models help. I think forums both formal and informal, help – our industry bodies and communication mediums presenting different points of view and perhaps calling out conscious and unconscious bias when they see it.  It is good to have women-friends in high places that speak of their journey, challenges and help out where they can. 

“We need more than two or three women on our industry boards.

We need pay parity.”

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

Deborah Pead:

“The harder you practice the luckier you become.”

Bex Radford:

“You could optimize the current reality…or you could just build your own reality.”

Monica Wales:

“Make decisions like you own the company yourself.”

Jen Rolfe:

“I was told not to expect anything to be given to me. (It was very disappointing to hear this. I would very much like to be just given things.)”

Catherine Harris:

“You do you boo.”

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