The XX Factor

“Notice anything unusual about this panel? Yes, it’s all-female. And yet male panels, or those with one woman, are so common, they go unremarked. Our industry is filled with incredible women, but the future isn’t female – just equal.” Lindsey Clay, chief executive, Thinkbox in Campaign Magazine.

It really is about time we made progress on this issue.

I’ve rarely been on an industry panel with a majority of women.  Yet I sit in meetings every week at MediaCom where it is of course common place.

What’s different about 124 Theobalds Road ? We have never had gender quotas.  Our business returns a great set of results consistently.  We are a meritocracy.  We don’t only promote women because we work in a business that ultimately markets products bought by women.

Arguments about women knowing better how to sell to women are irrelevant.  Was it a problem when Karen Blackett was the director on an account that predominantly sells fast cars to men? Of course not.  What was a problem was when I arrived at a previous agency to find that I had been given the Royal Doulton China Figurines account because I was a woman.  My ability to empathise as an urban twenty something with whatever drives ladies to spend north of a pony on one was not aided by my gender.

Confidence is one of the key issues hampering women’s career progression according to Atlantic Magazine.  They think that women are less confident than men professionally.  When they are equally confident then they’re labelled ball breakers.

Not everyone will agree with authors Kay and Shipman.  This isn’t the only reason for a lack of equality in the numbers of women leaders. But the good news about a confidence gap is that it can be overcome.  This is why Kathryn Jacob and I are writing a book packed with the kind of career advice you never get taught, including how to acquire confidence.  As one Atlantic correspondent writes : “Ten years ago I began teaching shy medical students “tricks of the trade” for appearing confident.. Early on I noticed that just by practising techniques for appearing confident, my students began to feel more confident… With enormous positive implications for improving lives.”

If anyone has any stories, tips or tactics for our book, please get in touch.  As for what’s different about MediaCom, I hope and believe that we have a culture that encourages everyone’s confidence, regardless of their gender.



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