OMD’s Laura Nice & Penny Shell On Female Representation & Imposter Syndrome In The Industry

OMD’s Laura Nice & Penny Shell On Female Representation & Imposter Syndrome In The Industry

In the lead-up to this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, we’re sitting down with each of our sponsors to find out why they’ve decided to throw their support behind the event, and get their thoughts on the industry’s progress towards gender equality.

Here, we chat to Laura Nice and Penny Shell (pictured above) from OMD…

Why did OMD decide to support this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards? And why do you think events like these need to continue?

Penny Shell: OMD has long been a champion for inclusivity and is a foundation supporter of the B&T Women in Media Awards. These awards are a natural fit with our values. Events like this need to continue until we see women as equally represented and remunerated in our industry as men.

Laura Nice: Supporting and recognising women has long been a priority at OMD, which is why we continue to support the B&T Women in Media Awards. I hope that, in time, we no longer need gender-specific awards as women are recognised and valued for their equal worth every single day.

What should the winners of this year’s Women in Media Awards represent?

PS: Women who have shaped our industry for the better – it is increasingly important to drive purpose and progress in media that reflects the right thing to do, beyond just ‘good work’.

LN: The Women in Media categories are diverse, and they continue to expand as we recognise the needs of our industry are evolving, and so too is the talent. At the core of this is an ambition to do the right thing, to challenge the status quo and to bring other women and men on the journey. The awards are not necessarily about the recognition of a single female, but rather the team that supports her and how they collectively shine together.

What are some of the challenges women face in today’s media industry? How can they be overcome?

LN: We hear a lot about imposter syndrome, particularly from women. I think the power of women working together is incredible, especially when they listen, support and champion each other. If we all did this, there’d be no reason for imposter syndrome – you’d have a fan club cheering you on and celebrating your successes. When women stand in each other’s way, we exacerbate insecurities and doubt, and the imposter syndrome wins.

PS: Representation is still the biggest challenge. Overwhelmingly, the C-suite is predominantly male. The talent on our screens and airwaves is male-dominated. We need more female voices in influential forums, and we need men to speak up to support and drive change.

What changes would you like to see in the industry to make it more inclusive for women and other minority groups?

PS: I think our industry needs to be more consultative. We need to ask women and minority groups how they can be better included and represented, rather than (well-intended) senior stakeholders attempting to solve diversity challenges from the top down.

LN: This is about education and the need to truly understand the challenge, rather than jumping straight to what we think the solution might be. If we’re constantly curious, then we start to ask different questions, we speak to more people and, over time, we build richer knowledge. We then need to convert this knowledge into action and continue to challenge ourselves throughout the process – our beliefs, our values, and our intentions – to ensure we’re acting with integrity.

Do you think there needs to be more of an industry-wide push to get more females into senior roles?

PS: Absolutely. There are some companies and agencies that excel in this area, and others that are lagging. OMD does an incredible job of supporting women in senior roles. We should work together and learn from each other to achieve industry change.

LN: Penny and I are both fortunate to work at OMD where females are equally represented. However, more broadly, there is still a huge job to be done – apparently, there are more CEOs called John than there are female CEOs. Now, there’s nothing wrong with John, but they can’t all be a CEO! The problem is real and only together can we learn and change it.

What policies and initiatives does OMD have in place to promote diversity and attract and foster female talent?

LN: OMD continues to reflect on what we’re doing now and then evolve our initiatives to ensure we are providing a supportive environment where OMDers can thrive. We continually listen to our people, learn from our clients and keep ourselves accountable, which sometimes means owning up when we’ve not done as we’ve said. Our initiatives include gender-neutral parental leave policies for primary carers, a long-established but constantly evolving flexible working policy, handbooks to guide and support OMD parents such as ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting… at OMD’ and ‘WFH with kids’ (the one I use the most!), health and wellbeing initiatives, and mental health first aiders.

PS: I’m so proud of OMD’s leadership with our Diversity and Inclusion Charter and our work with the MFA to better the industry in this space. Our executive team is 67 per cent female, meaning women are championed at every level of the business and our emerging talent are given a clear pathway to ‘be what they can see’.

What advice do you have for young females working their way up in the industry?

LN: Always be yourself – if you’re authentic, then you’ll do the right thing, build great relationships and you’ll have a much richer life.

PS: Have a point of view and make it heard.

Given the current lockdown situation in Sydney, we’ve decided to play it safe and take this year’s WIM Awards, presented by Are Media, into a virtual arena.

The event will still be held on the same date (Friday 27 August at 4pm), and we’ll still be bringing the same glitz and glam you’re all accustomed to. Register HERE now to secure your spot!

And, just in case you missed it, we’ve released the WIM Awards shortlist! Check out which fabulous females made the cut HERE.

If you’d like more information about this year’s WIM Awards, head to the website.

Thank you to OMD and the rest of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!




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