The New York Women in Communication has been holding featured talks at Advertising Week for years. This year, they brought five women who are in completely different communication fields together to talk about the existing problems that women often encounter in the work space.
The moderator of the panel Meredith Long, started off asking panelists about choices and opportunities they had during their career and how did they end up in the position they are now. Lori Conkling, Executive Vice President in Strategy and Business Development at NBCUniversal, said that after getting tired of working in the business industry, she decided to set her path back to media and had a lower title job at first. However, being able to do what she loves, her career was accelerated so fast that compensated the demotion. No matter which opportunity she faced, it was her passion for media that pointed her the right choice.
Digging deeper into the obstacles that women face in the workforce nowadays, Meredith first brought up the topic of compensation. She asked the panelists the best way to start this conversation as a female.
“We need to have the conversation and stand up.” Said Karen Van Bergen, CEO of Omnicom Public Relations Group.
Karen said that that despite gender biased compensation is one of the hottest topics being talked about right now, the level of reticence in the workforce on it still shocks her.
Karna Crawford, Managing Director, Head of Marketing Strategy, Media & Digital Development at JPMorgan Chase-Consumer Bank Division, said that having an informal network is important. Even if it’s just someone at the HR department that you know well or someone who can tell you how much a typical position’s salary is, an informal network will be very helpful in evaluating the compensation you have now.
Sexism in the office is another gender related bias that women often encounter, Mia Tramz, Managing Editor at LIFE VR shared her personal experience with facing and solving sexism in a corporate environment.
“If it gets uncomfortable, I’m not going to make it comfortable myself”, said Mia
Mia first sensed a sexist culture in her office and was ambivalent on how to solve this issue. Eventually, she asked the male colleagues to have a coffee chat and tried to have a direct and open conversation with them. One thing she noticed is that at certain point, each one of them stopped and remained silent for a long time. Mia thinks that it is important to have an open dialogue that both sides can understand where the other side is coming from.
In many communication fields like public relations, 80% of the entry level jobs are filled by women while in the high-level positions, only 20% of them are female. What can corporate companies do more to make women thrive in their workforce? Karna thinks that the role of male leadership at valuing and supporting women in the organization is crucial. Mia added that having a female leader to look up to in the work place sets a great model for fellow female workers as well.
Meredith ended the talk asking each panelist for advice in balancing personal and work life as a woman in the communication field. Karen jokingly said that “Last time I checked I’m married to my husband not my work.” Despite the balance she tried to find between family and work, she also stressed the importance of having the “Karen time”.
From compensation issue to sexism, women today in all areas are facing similar struggles that need to be more addressed. At the New York Women in Communication Panel today, speakers shared with us their personal experiences in solving the problems and hand on tips as female leaders in the workforce.