Today the Marketing Society Scotland called for the industry to commit to building an equal and thriving community after new research found the sector to be rife with inequality and gender discrimination. The research makes some stark reading but am I surprised? Sadly, no I’m not.
For me, Mind the Gap started a year ago when I joined a group of members to see if we could get something off the ground which would help us understand the issues relating to the retention of women and devise a plan to raise awareness and make a difference. I don’t think we ever imagined that we would be where we are today. Whilst the state of equality in our industry is not something to be proud of, we are at least admitting there’s a problem. There’s no hiding from the fact that almost half (48%) of women in the marketing community in Scotland have either definitely or possibly experienced gender related discrimination compared to 16% of men.
I feel incredibly proud of the Society’s openness to accepting where we are and more importantly, supporting a proactive plan of action to drive significant change.
In my career, I feel very lucky that I’ve always worked in environments where my gender has never been a barrier. Sure, there are countless things that have been said or done which have been inappropriate or crossed the line, and rightly or wrong I’ve always just accepted that’s part of being a woman, but much more importantly I never let it distract from what I needed to do. You see, regardless of what’s said or done I truly believe I am equal and as we know, lacking self-confidence is one of the greatest barriers to women’s success.
At Stripe this is an issue close to our hearts. Like the rest of our profession the majority of our team are female. Whilst our Board is 50/50, our leadership team in Scotland is entirely female. For us however, this is not about gender, it’s about culture. We believe if we put our people at the heart of every business decision, we will create an environment where they are motivated to deliver great work and the business will succeed. When you run a small business, you experience the full spectrum of life’s ups and downs and we recognise that what’s going on for people out of work impacts the role they play in the business. In the last five years 25% of our team and 90% of senior management have taken time off to have children. When faced with this challenge rather than viewing it as a problem we decided to treat it as an opportunity. We set out to champion flexible working and the retention of women, so that first and foremost we could retain our talent, whilst hopefully setting an example for others.
I recognise that the Stripe culture and approach is unique. It isn’t just about a policy in a handbook, it works because our leadership team get it. There’s an unspoken understanding that it’s hard to balance everything, that you’re constantly making choices about what to prioritise and that sometimes you just need to be somewhere else. I believe more than anything it is our culture that helps women thrive. We listen and support, but we also try to inspire them to have the confidence to fulfil their potential, which from my experience is more important than anything. That said this is a business and it isn’t a one-way street. In return, we ask for their continued commitment and drive to help the business fulfil its potential too.
I’m not going to lie, we haven’t always got it right and we’re constantly learning, but we’re fully committed to creating an environment where all our staff regardless of their gender can balance their home and working lives and continue to have a successful career.
Quite honestly I don’t understand why any business would not want to help every individual fulfil their potential, so enough now. Let’s close the gap.
To find out more and pledge visit: www.mindthegapscotland.co.uk