At B&T, We are staunch believers that every woman and her achievements should be celebrated, every day and always.
However, unfortunately, the achievements of women often go unnoticed. That’s why we launched our annual B&T Women in Media Awards – to recognise the amazing accomplishments of women across the marketing, communications and advertising industry.
In honour of our WIM Awards, we’re chatting to industry powerhouses; women we should all be keeping an eye on — women to watch.
Today we’re hearing from Julie Dormand, MercerBell’s CEO.
Until we reach gender equality, we need to do everything we can to promote women who are leading our industry and creating change, which is why I think B&T’s Women in Media Awards are vital. The 2018 Agency Circle survey resulted showed that 59 per cent of our industry are female, but only 29 per cent of our chairs, CEOs or MDs are women. It’s important for women starting out in our industry to be inspired by others who are breaking through the barriers, and to help them to see that there is opportunity and progress happening so that they feel they too can help drive and be a part of the push for change.
One person who has always inspired me from early on, while it might be a cliche, is my mum. She was a colourful character who ran her own mail-order clothing business and was also a single mum. Many of the things she taught me – often without meaning to – have become ingrained in me today. She made me become a hard worker; having me work in her business during school holidays from primary school onwards. She also taught me that a man is not a financial plan and that we have to be independent. And, she reinforced in me, that if we (my brother and I) wanted something done, we had to do it ourselves. I owe my work ethic and drive to her.
As for today’s influences, I draw great inspiration through reading about amazing women. I’m currently reading Brene Brown ‘Dare to Lead’ and Gail Kelly’s autobiography, both of which are proving incredibly insightful. Brene Brown talks about neuroscience and the impact of our emotions in leading others. She discusses how the human tendency to avoid emotions and tough conversations does not serve us well as leaders. We need to “choose courage over comfort” which is something I’ve long believed.
Reflecting on the biggest impediment to equality in the workforce, I’d say it’s unconscious bias. Although it is starting to gain more awareness, there is still not enough understanding or consideration given to unconscious bias in the workplace. It really does impact every decision we all make. Our decision-making is flawed and is based upon the biases we have learned throughout our lives. To overcome this, we need organisations to invest in educating and building awareness of unconscious bias and to encourage greater personal and workplace reflection on this. For example, when you put a bias lens over recruitment, it can change your approach to interviews. Understanding this can help to open your eyes to some of our limiting behaviours. As a result of this, at MercerBell we have shifted away from talking about people being a ‘cultural fit’ as we realise this could have the potential to limit diversity.
On the topic of equality, one thing I think everyone can do today that could potentially make a massive change in the struggle for equality is to be mindful about the decisions we make day-to-day with reference to equality. For all of the working parents, consider how you bring equality in to your own everyday lives and your split of tasks. When there are two working parents, I ask the dads in our business if they take their equal share of Carer’s Leave? Do they share the attendance of school events and pick-ups? Is the dad doing his fair share of the domestic duties? Change to equality happens as much at home as it does in the office and statistics show that working mums are still doing the majority of the caring and domestic duties.
Who was the most unexpected champion of change for equality you’ve ever come across?
One that springs to mind is tennis player Andy Murray. Although having recently retired, when he was playing he always called out casual biases in interviewer questions and was one of the rare leading voices in the male game calling for equality between the women’s and men’s game.
If you were PM, what law would you change/introduce right now to improve equality?
Improve transparency of the Gender Pay Gap with a law to ensure companies are enforced to share equal pay data.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Ask for the job!
Too often women lack confidence in putting themselves out there. They are concerned about failing or not being accepted for the job they really want. We wait until someone says we are ready for the next role, or to be tapped on the shoulder. This is not always how it works. A man is more likely to put himself forward, asserting his clear ambition and making it known that his hat is in the ring. As women, we need to take the risk and communicate what it is we need.
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