Women must be more than members of a movement if they want far-reaching change to occur, according to SQUEAK E. CLEAN Studios executive creative producer Karla Henwood.
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.
Karla Henwood is an ad-land industry stalwart, with more than 20 years of creative experience—a time span where she has been the recipient of multiple acknowledgments, including the 2018 Women in Media Awards award for ‘Creative Producer of the Year’ and the 2019 award for ‘Industry Mentor’.
In a no holds-barred interview, Henwood tells B&T that women in advertising must be more than just advocates of change—they need to be truly brilliant, and be brave enough to push for equality of opportunity.
Karla, what does your average day look like?
I start reading and replying to emails and calls from about 7am so that I can catch our US team and have everything I need to prepare for a full day of music and sound production with our Sydney and Melbourne studios.
This is happening alongside some negotiations with a four-year-old about getting dressed, teeth, shoes, car, etc. Then (like most people now) I spend far too much time finding the Zoom/Teams/Chat/GSuite link, dial in, pin, and what’s next in the calendar.
Then there’s uploading, downloading, listening, briefing, de-briefing, correcting then auto-correcting and apologising for my rubbish texting, and more talking about sound and music in abstract ways until about 5pm.
I then get my four-year-old who is thankfully always overjoyed to see me. We might go to a park for 30 minutes where I continue to talk, do video calls, and poorly text emails until the mad rush of 6–6:30pm when ad-land is over for the day.
Then I’m at home, and after dinner (luckily my husband does the cooking) I finish off any final emails for the day and uploading any briefing for the US team to continue overnight.
I remember to schedule a Pilates class for some time in the week and remind myself to go for a bike ride tomorrow.
What do you believe is the difference between being ‘brave’ and being ‘courageous’?
They are really two sides of the same coin, and they take conscious effort.
Everyone faces different challenges so bravery comes in all shapes and sizes for women especially—from choosing not to have children or to have children and put them in childcare so you can work, or choosing to completely change career, or believing in yourself that you are worthy of a pay rise and going for it, or sometimes being brave is simply asking for help.
As they say, feel the fear and do it anyway, and each day step outside your comfort zone a little bit, until it becomes second nature.
It is outside that zone where all the magic happens, personally and professionally. Unless you wake up each morning with a plan, you will just become part of someone else’s.
Why should women in Australia’s media, marketing and advertising industries be courageous?
Women need to be courageous every day in their own lives to enact real change.
Being a part of a movement or supporting equality and change is great, but women need to then step up in their own personal and professional lives and be their own advocates and fight for what they are entitled to every day.
While the industry now widely acknowledges that there is a gender pay gap, guess what, you’re not going to suddenly find an extra $20k in your salary because you were part of a movement.
Unless you are not just great at your job, but brave enough to be fighting for yourself on the back of it, nothing will change until each and every one of us stand up and take action to be counted.
Have the women and men of ad-land been courageous enough in our fight for gender equality?
Yes and no. Sadly we find in ad-land a stubborn sticking to stereotypes and ‘roles’ because this is what has worked in the past.
Creatively we are not particularly brave, with branding briefs and creative executions mostly just borrowing from film or music or social trends or even other campaigns that have worked.
This seems to make everyone in the room comfortable with the concept and spending media dollars because they can see this kind of thing has worked before. This is not necessity the fault of the creative people— but as a whole industry, it’s not brave.
We need people to stand up and do something new, and be seen to be doing something new, and this will result in the industry changing and being seen as leading the way in creative communication.
Doing the same thing we have always done will only achieve the same result. Like it or not, the community takes cues from us, we are seen by millions, so it’s time for us to lead rather than follow.
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!
Photography by andre&dominqiue