#MeToo, diversity inclusion efforts, and countless other conversations revolving around gender equality abound the public sphere these days.
Though we have come a long way since the days of suffragettes marching in the streets demanding voting rights, it is difficult to ignore the issues which persist in the realm of gender inequality. Today, the news of California’s requirement to include women on any publicly held board was announced, as one of the panelists for Run It Like a Girl, Frances L. Webster, proudly declared at the beginning of the seminar. Efforts like this, Webster discussed, is what can bring our society closer to true gender equality.
Webster is the CEO for Walrus, and next to her on stage sat Sandy Greenberg, co-founder and CEO of Terri & Sandy, Seema Miller, President and CSO of Wolfgang, and Mary Perhach, President of SwellShark. The panel of successful women leaders at advertising agencies was moderated by Megan Graham, a reporter for Ad Age.
The panelists point out that an important aspect of working toward gender equality is the role of men. Since men are considered to hold the power that women need to work for, Greenberg believes that men are essential for moving the issue along, using their power to elevate, inspire, and encourage the women around them.
Within the workplace, it is especially important for women to find other women to guide them. When asked about mentorship, all the panelists mention that it is important at their agencies that younger women have a more senior role model they can go to for direction and counsel. Greenberg states that to be the best mentor, one must be a good role model. The panelists agree that though a formal mentorship program for everyone at an agency is ideal, it does not necessarily have to be formal, but more of a casual encouraged relationship, elevating young women in their careers and lives.
This conversation was continued when discussing how women can empower other women. Perhach believes that the time of women stepping on other women’s backs to achieve their goals are long gone, and that there is no reason not to be friends with your perceived competition. Further, she considers that elevating others elevates the industry as a whole and then everyone can benefit. Putting other women down invalidates the efforts for gender equality.
The successful women leaders also have plenty of valuable advice for younger women in the industry. Miller advises that young women should push themselves and their limits to learn more and experience more when they are young, when they can use the knowledge and experience throughout their life.
Self-Advocation was also emphasized throughout the discussions, as Perhach encourages women to not be afraid to be wrong, and to network as much as possible. Adding to that, Webster advises women to self-promote by not being afraid to talk about money and leverage the skill of negotiation.
To sum up the dialogue on women leadership, Greenberg states that “If you don’t have a place at the table – make your own table.”
So, run it – like a girl.