Why gender diversity needs action not lip-service

The comments that Kevin Roberts made on gender diversity in the Business Insider interview are depressing but sadly not that surprising and have sparked much comment and debate.

The figures quoted in the article that only 11.5% of creative directors are women, demonstrates that there aren’t many female role models.

Surely the question should be why women don’t they want the senior roles? Under what circumstances would they consider these roles, is the environment and culture conducive to encouraging women to apply?

It’s clear that the issue of gender equality still exists and an industry so reliant on people should better reflect the diversity of the population it seeks to influence and reflect. Companies need to focus on action and not just pay lip service to this important issue. The piece written by Mark Ritson in Marketing Week shows that even those who support what needs to be done to achieve gender equality need to consider how they might change their own behaviour. It was a brave confession to make, having initially responded badly to the challenge of the female student he reflected on it, made a change which led to a better result, it was about action not just support of an idea.

In my experience of working in the marketing industry for many years, women have different and more complex career decisions to make, their contribution is often valued differently and they can find it harder to navigate organisations that are very “male” in culture. We know that Millennial Women have different, less traditional expectations regarding their careers, but research from EY shows within that group that their confidence and optimism wane the longer they work within an organisation. For an industry constantly curious about consumer insight and behaviour we need to look at the problem from an organisational standpoint, as well as an individual one.

With birdsoup, we are looking to support organisations to become more self-aware around gender equality and to implement change. Alongside that we plan to help women to speak up, step up and find the resilience and confidence to thrive in their careers. It’s clear that attitudes we all hoped had long gone still persist so we’re excited that our new business is definitely on the right track to help both organisations and individuals make the change, watch this space!

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