Last year, Unwritten Group announced another appointment to our agency’s leadership team. Four women who collectively have decades of demonstrated experience in marketing, public relations, design and client servicing.
Within hours, a male chief executive from the region had published posts slamming our celebration of an all-female leadership team. Notably, this company’s leadership team is 75% male-staffed.
The overarching suggestion was that "they haven't chosen the best people for the job". This accusation is indicative of the barriers that women face when climbing the career ladder.
Thankfully, our peers rallied to eloquently condemn his bias and support our progress as an agency. Poignantly, one reminded us: "When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Our agency has been earning impactful results for clients since its inception, demonstrating that our team are perfectly equipped for their roles. But even if our record wasn’t studded with successes, would that make our staff demographics any less worthy of celebration?
As of June 2019, only 7% of FTSE companies had a female CEO. Of the 2020 Fortune 500, only 37 of the companies are led by women. The gender leadership gap is not caused by a lack of skills, but by an underlying prejudice that often prevents women from being promoted to senior roles.
Study after study has proven the gender disparity between hiring decisions and the workforce’s population. Women-led companies remain a rare sight in the marketing and advertising industry, despite it being predominantly female-powered.
It is not sexism that has formed our leadership team; hiring decisions are made on expertise and culture fit. The impact of having women at the helm is that we are empowered to offer a huge range of benefits that promote the wellbeing and inclusivity of our team.
Our staff benefit from flexibility of work schedules to account for personal commitments such as childcare. This has been especially vital during the pandemic, as the damage to women’s careers has been wide-reaching as a result of increased childcare responsibilities.
We are free to make decisions to not work with prospective clients who demonstrate their own biases against us.
We will continue to hire based on expertise, regardless of demographics.
Day to day, we’ll continue in our mission to act as role models and an example to junior professionals across the industry that it is possible to earn leadership positions.
We are incredibly proud of the women who drive forward our agency, with some having pushed the boundaries of their roles to help me launch Fabric Academy during the pandemic – a new venture that empowers marketers through education and mentorship.
No matter the challenges made to our ethos, we will always be passionate advocates for women’s careers and hope to continue to remind women that their futures are as bright as they want them to be.
Lisa Eaton is managing director of Unwritten Group