Women In Media’s Lauren Quaintance Calls Time On Inequality: “Women Are Already More Likely To Be Laid Off Than Men”

Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

Storyation’s head of content, Lauren Quaintance, believes there is no excuse for gender-based inequities to continue to exist, especially in a “privileged industry” like the media.

During this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, presented by Bauer 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.

Among the very best in her field and a story of no bull sh*t success, Quaintance recently took the time to chat with B&T, revealing why the media needs to continue to push for true equity—a struggle that she believes could fly under the radar during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The simple answer is that there are decades of inequity that we still need to address, whether that’s about pay equity, or about women having equal access to opportunities within the industry,” Quaintance says.

“We’re in an industry where we have all of the tools, and we’re incredibly privileged.

“We’re educated, we know how to communicate—there really is no excuse that we shouldn’t be able to solve some of these issues in this particular industry … why can’t we have this conversation in a way that actually affects change?”

And while the COVID-19 slowdown could afford an upside for women—with companies embracing work-from-anywhere philosophies—it may magnify these existing inequalities, Quaintance says.

The risk, she says, is that business priorities will see diversity and inclusion “slip off the radar”.

“This is an inequality that has been with us for many decades, despite women having the same level of education, and often coming out of university with the same qualifications as men,” Quaintance tells B&T.

“But often by the time they’re 35, they have slipped behind men in terms of pay and access to senior positions. So, I think that there’s obviously room for more courage when you consider the enormity of what we still have to address.”

Quaintance believes ad-land and the broader media industry needs to have tough conversations that remain visible about how it will support women through the pandemic.

“Women are already more likely to be laid off than men, and many of them are in part-time work, which is more vulnerable.”

Quaintance, who picked up the B&T Women in Media award for ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2018, believes there is room for ad-land’s leadership to be more courageous—a quality she says comes from “making decisions from the heart”—pointing to her role-model Jacinda Ardern.

“She is someone who really represents a style of empathetic leadership that we could all learn from,” Quaintance says.

When asked how she has been most courageous in her life, Quaintance responds: “Your female readers will relate to this, but I would say childbirth.”

“I think that certainly the second time, if you haven’t had a great experience the first time, there is this enormous leap of faith—it demands a certain kind of resilience and courage to do it,” she says.

“It’s an act of love to do that—to knowingly put yourself in a situation you know is going to be painful and uncomfortable, and challenging in so many ways.

“But to do that again a second time, I think that’s a great act of love that women can give their families, in a way.”

Bravery, on the other hand, looks like having the guts to turn-over to the next phase of your career.

“I know that I was brave when I launched this agency [Storyation] when I had a 10-day-old baby in 2013, with no idea whether we would make any money, or whether we’d be out on the street in a few months,” Quaintance says.

“That was probably the bravest moment in my career.”

It’s very clear that Quaintance back herself, and it’s a quality, she says, that comes from being a Kiwi.

“I have an innate desire to do better, to push further and to strive towards something, and I’ve been thinking about what that is, and why that is.

“And I guess some of it I put down to actually growing up in New Zealand.

“New Zealand is a very small place that has produced a disproportionate number of people who have changed the world in some way, and anyone who knows anything about evolutionary biology knows that change happens on the edge—and New Zealand is a place, even more so than Australia, that’s on the edge.

“It’s a place where people are compelled to push themselves into to try new things. I think in some small way I’ve been influenced by that.

“I grew up, until I was 14, in New Zealand thinking that I could do whatever I put my mind to—and I’ve really taken that mindset with me in my career,” Quaintance says.

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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