So, firstly, I think it’s important to say that I’m not particularly well tuned to sexism within the workplace as I’ve landed on my feet at OMD UK – women are everywhere. They’re on the board, in reception, heading up my department, in my department, everywhere. However, I appreciate that media is up there as one of the best industries for gender equality and the women in tech on this panel on the second day of Innovation Week had experienced something rather different.
Chaired by Vicki Woollaston, Editor of Alphr, our panel featured Emma Rose, Head of Staff for HSBC, Helen Fridel, Head of the Diversity Program at Cisco and Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First Girls. Each panellist excels in their individual roles and lights a very clear path for young women – such as myself – to aspire to follow. They touched on many points, too many to note here, but there were a few that stood out to me and really made me question my own behaviour and views.
- Firstly, the grey area in middle management and an inability to control the subconscious bias we’ve grown to believe. Let’s scrap the OMD ladies email address, heck maybe the guys wanna get their nails done too. Let’s stop asking the ‘young men’ to carry those heavy boxes. Let’s stop assuming. Leading nicely to…
- Secondly, the importance of a grassroots understanding of gender balance vs gender neutralisation. Being balanced is being rationale, being neutral is being ‘pale grey, cream, or beige.’ – and nobody wants to be pale grey or beige.
- Finally, it’s not a competition. It’s not about being better than men, nor is it having their standard as our benchmark of achievement. It’s about being. Being there ready to have your voice heard. Being given the opportunity to be there having your voice heard. Being you.
Essentially, the panel reminded us, be whoever the heck you want. Most importantly, be that person with pride. And, for the rest of you, accept them.
The most important thing for us, as an industry, is surely ensuring that our minds are reflective – or at least empathetic – of our audience. What more can we do to further enhance diversity within our workplace? Are we championing a grassroots understanding of equality? Are we all proud of who we are? Are we all accepting of who one another are? I’ll leave you to make your own mind up on that one.