Sensitizing Marketers on International Women’s Day: Women in Business Talk Equality

By Martech Advisor

A day to celebrate womanhood!

From being a national holiday to being ignored altogether, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a day all about us, women. It began back in 1909 in New York and went on to become a part of Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and eventually, the United Nations took up March 08 as the day for celebrating Women’s Rights.

This year the UN announced, “The theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’ explores the ways in which innovation can work for gender equality, boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and enhance public services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.”

In honor of women everywhere, this IWD, we decided to hear it from top women in business. Let’s find out how they think we can pragmatically push progress around gender balance in the workplace to #BalanceForBetter.

Cat Prestipino, CMO of Employment Hero, says, “One of the best ways we can pragmatically push for progress is to offer flexible working conditions for everyone, whenever it’s possible for a business. The nature of work has changed in light of technology, the growing understanding that people are productive at different times of the day and as the rise of work-life flow, rather than work/life balance, gains traction. By removing the stigma around flexible working conditions by offering them to whole companies (when practically possible), we remove the stigma of childrearing from the workplace for both men and women, parents and non-parents. The upside will be more productive and more balanced employees all round.”

Michelle Gallaher, Managing Director of The Social Science, said:

The hashtag #BalanceForBetter says it all. It says ‘better’ not ‘perfect’. When we hear estimates that it will be 202 years before we achieve pay parity in Australia (according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2018) it’s not unreasonable to feel despondent and overwhelmed about achieving gender balance, because the gap we need to navigate is so wide. So strategies that make a difference even if they are not perfect are where I put my effort. I have seen enormous change result from the #panelpledge-refusing to speak at an event if the panel or line-up of speakers is heavily biased against women. Calling out event organizers on this bias delivers very effective results, particularly when you can put forward the names of female speakers that you know can make a meaningful contribution to the dialogue.

I think the greatest wins can be achieved at home, particularly with primary school aged children and helping them to recognize the bias against girls and women within their world of school, media and amongst friends and family.

My teenagers are very aware of the gender bias as for years we as parents have been pointing it out to them. When you give intelligent people quality data that is validated and specific they will typically make good decisions. We need more robust data around the impact of inequality and inequity for women and communities, and the programs and policies that are delivering positive social and economic returns. It's very hard (or very stupid) to ignore good data.

Amy Walker, Co-founder and Head of Growth at Cooperate, said:

I think pragmatic is the key word here. While I would love to see a 50/50 split in the workplace and boardroom, this also needs to be balanced with putting the right person in the right role. There's no benefit gained by putting a woman into a role simply to up your gender quota-that kind of approach only ever backfires.

I think there are two ways in which businesses can balance this pragmatically:

1. Make use of your OKR's

One of the biggest challenges for organizations is promotion, and too often men and women will differ in how they put themselves forward in these kinds of scenarios. If an organization has solid OKR's in place based on the jobs that role needs to achieve, then they have an assessment tool that they can rely on internally to shortlist promotion prospects based on real-time performance and ability, rather than the more traditional 'show pony' approach.

This approach can help even the playing field, whether it's introverted women against assertive men (the common stereotype), or introverted men against assertive women, which can be just as impactful.

2. Gender balance your decision groups

While board seats and management roles can take time to reach a gender balance, ensuring the groups that outline the requirements for these kinds of roles and the hiring of key persons are equal, will help to bring balance. If you have a 50/50 decision group that is in agreement on a new hire then that will in itself bring balance. Every business is different and this means their gender balance needs are different too.

We also received some very inspiring motivation from Women in Power. Let's see what they had to say...

Nola Solomon, Vice President, Global Programmatic & Strategic Partnerships, dailymotion, says, "Be patient with yourself. We grow up in a society, especially in big cities, where it is always climbing the ladder. But in order to achieve your goals you have to excel at the basics and use those as ad the foundation to propel you into the next levels. And the patience is key in that it is about confidence and belief in yourself that you will get where you want to go, and that the path of what you want might change along the way and that is OK too.

Along the same vein, never to be afraid to ask for what you want. This is something I think women, in particular, have trouble with. Be polite, be professional, but be dogged with what you want and never be afraid to ask. I truly believe in the don’t ask, don’t get phrase. Be aware of the right time to ask, have the evidence to show why you deserve it – show the proof.

Never procrastinate – get things done! Will make you seem like a superstar"

Preethy Vaidyanathan, Chief Product Officer, Tapad, says, "Having a growth mindset, a belief that intelligence and competence can be developed, is vital. It’s easy to feel insecure when we face new challenges, but focusing on that insecurity can actually hinder our ability to learn and grow. I have found that women, in particular, have a tendency to focus on their weaknesses instead of doubling down on the areas where they excel. I’d encourage women to focus their energy instead of improving upon their natural talents and on tapping into that growth mindset, so they can overcome inevitable setbacks.

Additional tips:

  • Learn Continuously: It’s easier than ever to find online courses (Coursera, Lynda) that allow professionals to expand their skill-sets. Put that growth mindset into practice
  • Seek out mentors. Find a champion who is willing to guide you. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you admire for advice
  • Speak-up: Be proactive, have a voice, even when you are new. Ask to shadow someone, take on that additional responsibility, don’t be afraid to stand-out, raise your hand and ask that question. Be proactive in making your career
  • Remember: your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to be perfect straight-away. Cut yourself some slack, enjoy the journey."

Alison Lindland, Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Movable Ink, says, "After business school, I joined American Express and had a phenomenal experience there doing product marketing and business development. In my tour in product, I was the first iPhone app product manager, and email was tantamount to my success. Coming out of the recession we had very little funding for above-the-line marketing for the app, so email was always going to be one of our biggest channels.

"I would negotiate with friends from my intern program to give me a spot in their newsletters and, in exchange, I would come present in their team meetings on how mobile was going to impact their card product or vertical. Nothing in our marketing plan came close to replicating the lift in volume we got from those emails!”

Conclusion

Amy Walker thinks it's fundamental for all minority workplace groups to be given the confidence they need to succeed in their chosen career, whether that's women, men or specific ethnic groups. “While I feel that having something like IWD is fundamental to help women bring balance, it's also on us to help bring balance in other areas, such as diversity. And balance is something that women do help bring to a workplace, in many different ways. The benefits of greater diversity have been proven, and that's diversity through gender, personality types and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I like to see IWD as one step towards achieving our greater goal-true balance and equality in the workplace from top to bottom.”

To wrap up in the words of Michelle Gallaher, “We should never underestimate the value of storytelling, positive and negative stories, as the catalyst for change. Having a network of supportive, generous and truth-telling women is the greatest asset a woman can have in life and in business”.

That’s just the insight that marketers look for, isn’t it?

Wishing all our woman readers, a wonderful International Women's Day!

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