We like to think we’re a business with very equal opportunities and no prejudices. We are almost exactly 50/50 female to male and are continually working hard to improve our diversity. So we were a little surprised when, prompted by International Women’s Day, we decided to find out what the picture looked like across our industry in the UK.
Whilst stats around some roles looked hearteningly equal (agency management is almost 50/50 male and female) other areas continue to show troubling trends. The cliché, for example that Admin, reception management and PA roles continue to be well over 90% female, whilst business ownership is nearly 80% in the hands of men.
In mid-tier roles in client services, women are well represented, right up to the most senior roles, with over 60% of Client Services Directors being female. In contrast, women are woefully under-represented in the digital sector of the industry, with around 90% of roles being held by men.
So it seems that as an industry, whist progress is undoubtedly being made, we still have some searching questions to be asked and answered. To help inspire us on our journey towards greater equality, we decided to ask some of our most inspiring female clients and contacts about their experiences as women in their own fields.
As you would expect, we got a broad range of answers but the overall message was one of great positivity and hope. We wanted to share this, so have released a series of Instagram posts that you can view here here, depicting some of the most thought provoking quotes and responses from our network.
Here’s a few more thought provoking words from some of the most inspiring women we know:
“Give yourself time to think about who you are, what you want to do and be reflective/self evaluate. Also, enjoy what you decide to do and when it’s no longer enjoyable, change it.”
Karen Watson, Artistic Director, East Street Arts (pictured above)
“I am not the type of person who as ever liked to be told I can’t do things because I am a female. I went to an all-boys school in the sixth form – 1000 boys and around 35 girls. It was a really good rugby school so I set up a female rugby team. There was a real pressure to decide what you wanted to do and choose a career at an early age, but running your own business isn’t something that was discussed as an option. I say spend your time trying as many things as you can and then follow your passion and it will take you to the right place.”
Victoria Robertshaw, Owner, Keelham Farm Shops
“I have faced negative messages such as being asked in an early interview why I would want to go into a tough field like management when I looked ideally suited for a customer care role and I have also had to face some hostility from people who have a very traditional idea of what a leader looks and sounds like. Be tenacious though! If you enjoy doing something and have the potential to be good, work hard and don’t let anyone put you off what you want to do by well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) advice.”
Prof. Simone Wonnacott, Vice-Chancellor, Leeds Arts University (pictured above)
“With no deliberate ill-will, even parents often assume their male children will be able to climb higher, run faster, be stronger. I think this definitely affects how both men and women define themselves and subconsciously internalise the idea that men are somehow “better” than women, contributing to the gender pay gap. You are just as good as anyone else: always follow through on that conviction.”
Julia Skelton, Executive Director, Mind the Gap
“I started my career in the manufacturing sector which was fairly male dominated. Being a relatively softly spoken, petite woman it was amusing to see how some people would stereotype and underestimate me. What I’ve always found is that delivering the results soon makes people sit up and take notice! I’m very happy with the way my career has progressed. For me it’s been about professionalism, focus and being true to my values. That’s what’s led me to where I am today.”
Joanna Royle, Assistant Director, National Trust
“Be brave enough to find out who you are and what you care about, don’t pay too much attention to what you look like, do something you love doing, invest in good friends, read some Maya Angelou and most importantly: your community needs you and your talent: you matter.”
Wieke Eringa, Chief Exec and Artistic Director, Yorkshire Dance & ‘Northern Power Woman’
“We need more women in politics and positions of power, so I’d say to girls and young women to not let any preconceptions about such roles put them off and I’d really encourage them to not hesitate in putting themselves forward for positions of responsibility.”
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council