‘More alpha females needed’ as advertising rated worst sector for women
By Louise Ridley
Advertising and media has been rated the worst sector for giving women the chance to progress at work, according to research from the career coaching company Talking Talent.
The industry was rated bottom, according to the survey of 1,000 women, 35 of which worked in advertising and media.
Advertising and media was also rated joint worst with financial services for workplace prejudice. Half of the women (51 per cent) from the industry said they had experienced discrimination, most often from junior male colleagues.
The sector also scored poorly for flexibility and work/life balance, in the research, which looked at industries including engineering, law, accountancy and government.
Despite this, 83 per cent of the respondents in the sector said their employer was supportive of women in general.
Sue Unerman, the chief strategy officer of Mediacom UK, who is writing a book about women and work, noted that while the sample size for the ad industry in the research was small, it “continues to highlight the issue, which frankly statistically is not good enough”.
She said there was confusion around whether gender equality exists in advertising and media.
Unerman said: “Many people I’ve spoken to don’t think that there has been much real progress towards gender equality in senior roles for women, that it is still essentially an alpha men club.
“Others disagree, and point to the fact that we work in a meritocracy, and if there aren’t senior women around it is because they haven’t made it to the top.”
Unerman pointed out that MediaCom UK has many women in senior roles, so it was “entirely normal to have gender equality” at the agency.
She said: “Yet time and time again I go to conferences, or sit on judging panels, where most (or all) of the speakers or attendees are men. We’ll have board-to-board meetings with media owners. We’ll turn up with loads of women. They’ll turn up with all men.
“Businesses benefit from a diverse team of leaders. A few more alpha females in the mix will deliver different points of view at a senior level and will probably drive competitive advantage.
“Great leaders find the people (at least half of whom must be women) that will add qualities to the management mix and create change.”
The research supported calls for flexible working options, as well as placing more women in senior positions in all sectors but found there was minimal support for gender-based management quotas, which only 7 per cent of all the women surveyed supported.
Chris Parke, the chief executive of Talking Talent, said: “If employers fail to introduce measures to support women particularly through maternity, employers will miss out on a huge section of their top talent — something they can ill-afford to do in today’s competitive economy.”