Carat Australia’s head of strategy, Danni Wright, believes we’re on the right path to greater equality—but she’s also firmly aware that assumption and bias are alive and well in ad-land.
During this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, presented by Are Media, we’ll be recognising exceptional people who have achieved success in their professional arenas, celebrating their invaluable contribution to their industry through leadership, innovation and courage.
Recently, B&T spoke with tactician Danni Wright, the 2019 Women in Media Awards winner for ‘Strategy’, who hit us with a no bull sh*t, absolute fire quote (that we’re stealing) and revealed how a health misdiagnosis gave her an incredible amount of perspective.
B&T: Danni, what is the difference between being ‘brave’ and being ‘courageous’?
For me, being brave is about adopting a resilient mindset in response to a situation, whilst being courageous takes you beyond the reactive and into the proactive—deliberately walking into the unknown in the service of ambitions, values or beliefs.
When in your career have you been bravest and most courageous?
They are huge traits and I’m not sure the things that come to mind are worthy of those badges. I would, however, count myself a member of the camp of optimists. Optimism is more than having blind faith in a positive outcome, it’s about being an active part of securing that outcome.
What I love about our industry is that there is always a platform for those who want to find different and better ways to operate—demanding and rewarding optimism in equal measure.
The last couple of years have really cemented that value for me. If you think something can be done better, throw yourself at being part of the solution, but importantly: “if you are not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”, as Brene Brown aptly puts it!
What is the scariest thing you’ve ever overcome?
About seven years ago I was diagnosed with a muscular wasting disease, the prognosis for which was the gradual diminishment of the muscular function of one side of my body with no cure or treatment beyond the management of pain.
Six months into the diagnosis I undertook a muscle biopsy procedure to understand if I was a genetic carrier of the disease. Long story short, this led to a retraction of the initial diagnosis into one in which the neurologists were 90 per cent certain I didn’t have the disease.
Nothing like a debilitating disease to give you some perspective!
Why should women in Australia’s media, marketing and advertising industries be courageous?
Everyone in our industry should be courageous.
Advertising plays a powerful force in shaping and perpetuating culture and it’s incumbent on all of us to ensure that the work that we are doing is representative of our society and a positive force within it.
Have the women and men of ad-land been courageous enough in our fight for gender equality?
I certainly believe that gender equality has made it into the collective consciousness of our industry. For example, gone are the days of presenting an all-male front in a client meeting (even if thrown together by happy accident!), and no RFP is complete without citing the gender profile of leadership.
And yet as a 34-year-old female (who looks about 25!), I also know firsthand what it’s like to walk into a meeting and not command the immediate authority that a six-foot bearded male with a voice that carries across the room would.
I also know how I feel when I have let a client or colleague know that the ‘he’ with which they have gendered my partner is actually a ‘she’. And I don’t know how it feels, but I look around me and I see a 99 per cent white workforce. So, I know we have work to do.
For the men and women who feel that ‘gender inequality isn’t a thing anymore’ the hope is that this position of privilege comes with an awareness of the inequality that has come before and an alertness to the myriad of other ways that inequality in opportunity is unmistakably present in our industry, and society at large.
Whilst none of us are responsible for being in positions of privilege, which is a relative classification, we are all responsible for the awareness with which we carry it and what we choose to do with it.
And finally, who is the bravest or most courageous person you know and why?
The person that jumps to my mind is Chiquita King, the founder and managing director of the independent creative shop Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder. The courage to start one of the two solo female founded creative agency’s that I know of is one thing, but the grace and radiance with which she carries herself is another entirely.
CK’s leadership style is beautifully feminine, which is both an antidote to the mould as well as a proof point behind the many shapes that leadership can and should take.
Gender equality shouldn’t be a proxy for sameness—but instead about ensuring equality in opportunity so that everyone has the freedom to embrace their own unique identity, be this within or beyond the expectations associated with their gender, race and sexuality.
Don’t be shy, be proud of your achievements and enter B&T’s Women In Media! Submit your entry here.
You can also buy tickets to the event here, which will be held on Wednesday 28 October 2020, at Doltone House (Jones Bay Wharf).
And, if you’d like more information, head to this website.
Other key information
On-time deadline: Friday 21 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Late entries deadline: Friday 28 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Shortlist announced: Wednesday 23 September 2020.
Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!
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