How can the marketing industry support the next generation of female leaders?
Female representation and leadership have increased in recent years in the marketing industry, but it is still not at the point where it should be. A report by McKinsey titled “Women in the Workplace” found that women are still underrepresented in leadership roles, specifically women of colour. But, businesses and brands are working towards closing the gaps of inequality in the workplace. In this blog we reveal ways the marketing industry can support the next generation of female leaders in South Africa.
Female leaders need to advocate and implement change
Female leaders within the marketing industry have achieved their position through years of hard work and have accumulated a considerable amount of experience doing so. Implementing change is not easy to do, especially being a woman in the workplace, but female leaders are more accustomed to the processes within the marketing industry having had to climb the corporate ladder. Female leaders should use the knowledge-power they have to advocate putting policies and structures in place that will benefit other women in the industry. One way this can be done is through mentorship programmes where current female leaders can mentor other females in their industry and give them the necessary skills, tips, and tricks they would need to excel in their field.
Additional support should be provided after maternity leave
Returning from maternity leave is not easy for new mothers as they have to juggle a new responsibility at home while re-adjusting to the workplace. Many businesses have improved the support they offer mothers, like parental leave, remote working options, and offering flexible work hours, but this is still not enough. The issue with this is that leadership within marketing is male-dominated which means that men are the ones who predominantly formulate these policies. Women need to be involved in the decisions surrounding these policies as they will likely have a better understanding of what is needed. Their experience would also offer insight into what would work for the mother and the company. Examples of improvements in this area would be pay increases, onsite childcare, breastfeeding and/or breastmilk expressing and storage facilities, emotional support groups and mentorship from other female leaders that have already successfully navigated the transition to being a ‘working mom’.
Bias needs to be eliminated in the workplace
Eliminating bias promotes equality but this is no easy feat to achieve. Language plays a large part in bias, whether it be conscious or unconscious. To work towards eliminating bias, businesses in marketing should change the terms and pronouns used in everyday office talk. Examples of this would be using inclusive language like ‘chairperson’ instead of ‘chairman’ and using ‘they/them’ pronouns instead of ‘he/him’ or ‘she/her’. This can be achieved through training and workshops.
Credit should be given when due
To promote equality and a healthy workplace environment, employees and leaders should be celebrated when things are accomplished. This should be done regardless of gender as it would assist in recognition within the company and would give the employees a boost of confidence to keep them motivated and in good spirits.
Women should have the opportunity to voice their opinions and innovate
A study by the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment found that women are better equipped to solve problems when working in teams than men are. To be exact, the study found that women were 1.6 times more likely to be top performers when collaborating with other women than men were. The marketing industry should create a safe space for women to speak up about issues and problems and give them the opportunity to try and solve these issues. This would not only empower the next generation of female leaders but the marketing industry as a whole.
The marketing industry has come a long way in promoting equality in the workplace to empower female leaders, but it still has a way to go. Luckily, the road ahead does not have to be rocky if leaders within the marketing industry implement processes, policies, and opportunities for female leaders to thrive and show their true potential.