Gender equality in marketing roles

When I attend networking events in Adelaide, I notice that many of the young professionals in our industry are women. But what happens as we age? Senior positions are largely the domain of men. So how can we equalise the playing field? Gender inequality has been fought for decades now. But the fact that buzzwords such as – equality, diversity, and mansplaining still exist, means we’re not done.

Professional services marketers and firms are in a unique position to write a powerful gender equity story. Our positioning on this issue can shake up our firms and our voices can shake up our industry to become leading and progressive, in areas related to, but outside of, our technical expertise. How refreshing would it be to see a managing partner as an advocate for workplace equality? How liberal to see them as a dominant voice in pay equality in the public sphere. While some may believe that inequality does not exist in their firm, I wonder how many can illustrate the education, professional development support, equal opportunity, equal pay and workplace assistance to balance home and family and, importantly, not judge either males or females who are trying to balance the latter.

We are fortunate to work in powerful a powerful industry, where our voices are heard as experts. We can tackle gender equality internally and externally, sending out messages of balance that impact our market.

Let’s take a look at the changes in marketing by comparing two studies by Axonn Media (2015 and 2017), so we’re aware of the changes that are required by those who make decisions and appoint and influence hiring and promotions in professional services firms.

Job roles

In 2015, there were nearly twice as many men in director positions and almost four times more male MDs and CEOs. That has improved a little by 2017, with 17% of women at director level (compared to 21% of men), with men twice as likely to gain the MD or CEO positions. There seems to be a plateau for women at the manager level.

Work experience

The 2015 report showed that women were more likely to start a career in marketing, but men were more likely to get senior job roles and stick to their career in marketing for more than a decade. In 2017, it seemed the score becomes even, when professional marketers pass the 10-year mark. We may conclude that the marketing industry is encouraging women to stick to their careers. A significant item to note is that women seek more flexibility in work once they want to start a family. This likely explains why women are four times more likely to work part-time.

Work priorities

The most important motivator for both men and women marketers is doing something they love. Then comes salary, career progression and work flexibility. Overall, marketers don’t seem to care about benefits and perks but would rather have more money. Their research showed that male marketers are more motivated by financial rewards.

Parenting and domesticity

Working in marketing (as in any other industry) is challenging for parents. When it comes to caring for their children and managing a career, women still have a more difficult job than men. In 2015, women were three times more likely (62% vs. 24%) to say that parenthood affected their careers negatively. In 2017’s report, this has remained almost unchanged.

Marketing industry events

When talking about motivations for attending marketing industry events, things aren’t much different since 2015. About 16% of employees never attend events, while the rest do it to learn and network. However, when the event-goers were asked about the speakers at these events, 37% of them said that men present more. This is also true in most of the events that I attend locally – often, there is a panel and a token women; uninspiring and unprofessional.

It is more difficult to sort the gender equality issue out than to point fingers and criticize. Both men and women have the responsibility to fight prejudice, bias, and discrimination. There is a 300% increase in discussions about feminism on Twitter, which indicates that the will to eradicate gender inequality will continue getting stronger in the future. Make sure your firm is ahead of this curve.

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