Grazia's equal pay campaign
Grazia's equal pay campaign
A view from Abby Carvosso

Why media owners and agencies need to play their part in women speaking up

Abby Carvosso, the group managing director of advertising at Bauer Media, explains why speaking up is so important for women - and how the media community can play its part.

I was privileged to attend the Culture and Commerce lunch that Grazia hosted in partnership with Wacl at Advertising Week Europe earlier this week. Lunch at Fortnum & Mason is always a treat of course, but there was more to this event than just the famous blue china.

For us at Bauer Media, this starts with the outstanding work Grazia has done over the last year on its equal pay campaign. We know through our insight that gender equality is something our Grazia audience is deeply passionate about, but this campaign demonstrated how it actively wants to do something about issues of this nature. This action, combined with the power and influence of the Grazia brand, meant that together we were able to change the law.

Starting in the pages of the magazine, the campaign exploded and carried on going until it reached Westminster. We are now awaiting the introduction of the Equal Pay Act and we are so proud that Grazia was a part of making a real difference.

So for me, I can’t think of a better example of "speaking up", Wacl’s theme for 2016, and it was a great place to start Monday’s panel discussion. We all know that language is a key part of how we position ourselves and how others in turn perceive us; we need to be aware of what our apologetic email tone really says or how the phrases we automatically apply to women, but not men (full-time working dad anyone?), are interpreted.

As a media owner with a number of influential female-focused brands such as Grazia and The Debrief, I passionately believe that we have a responsibility to encourage a change in behaviour for women. The brilliance in "speak up" is that it allows women to make everyday changes – something that the media industry needs to embrace for its audiences as well as employees.

To explore this further, I’ve spoken to some key Wacl members to get their views on how women can speak up more in the workplace.

Lindsey Clay, chief executive, Thinkbox:
"'Speak Up' is a personal obsession of mine. Speak Up is the theme for my Wacl presidency, and indeed I have spoken up about it so often this last year that I think most of my friends would prefer me, frankly, to pipe down. As members of Wacl and other senior women in the industry, we have a special responsibility to speak up: to inspire, to challenge, to change and to celebrate and praise. If we don't, then we can't expect younger women to do so.

"My particular complaint is this: women's voices are simply not heard enough in the public sphere. This Advertising Week, I am shocked that there are still so many five man "manels". There was even a manel earnestly discussing the topic of diversity. I encourage women to say yes to speaking opportunities, but conference organisers need to remember to ask them."

Pippa Glucklich, chief executive, Starcom UK: 
"The Wacl theme this year, ‘Speak Up’, has really resonated in the industry. There’s still a long way to go but we’re delighted it’s gaining traction, not just within Wacl itself but with conference organisers, the trade press and industry bodies. And most importantly of course, it’s having an impact with women from across all areas and levels of the business.

"As a club with a 93-year history, inspiring and supporting women, as well as influencing the industry on issues that affect women is part of our DNA. The Advertising Week Europe session with Grazia, who are doing a great job of championing women’s issues across the nation, saw a stellar panel debate many of the challenges faced by women – and men – in today’s workplace. Solutions to address the issues were also a key part of the discussion.

"There’s some incredible and positive initiatives afoot –  Wacl’s Speak Up, the IPA’s Tom Knox's excellent diversity agenda, female groups such as She Says, Creative Equals and the Great Diversity Experiment to name just a few – but there’s still a long way to go to before we reach equality and diversity stats that the industry can genuinely be proud of. 

"Here’s hoping the next time Advertising Week Europe rolls into town we can point to some tangible and sustainable progress."

Rachel Bristow, director of partnerships, Sky Media:
"I strongly believe there is a role for senior men and women to make ‘speaking up’ an everyday occurrence for female colleagues in the workplace, while also encouraging it across all forums. From internal meetings and presentations, to external opportunities, it is important that being vocal becomes a habit for all women in marketing and communications.

Encouraging participation is essential to inspire more women to want to volunteer in future events. It’s the simple things in the workplace that will make the difference, for example, ensuring that there is a 50:50 balance of speakers at key forums to team meetings. This is something that is front of mind at Sky Media. And through our Sky Academy programme, which uses the power of TV and creativity to build key skills, we have encouraged our female employees to visit schools and discuss their careers to date.

This initiative was supported by Wacl Gather, an annual training event focused on helping women to develop their career. It has played a pivotal role in inspiring our Sky Media women to take the plunge and go out to schools. As a result, we now have a group of women that are role models for the rest of the team, inspiring others to step up."