Perspectives on… International Women’s Day part 2
In my early career, I never worked with a single female creative director. In fact, I’ve never worked with a more senior female creative who I could listen to, learn from, look up to or emulate.
Not one. Nil. Zip. Nada.
And, although things are moving in the right direction, there’s still a clear lack of women in leadership positions within the creative industries. (In 2018, only 12% of creative directors were women.) Attracting talent into this fun, exciting and engaging industry isn’t the issue. Holding on to and nurturing this talent as women get older, seek promotion, start families or take career breaks – that’s where things are still sticky.
Yes, flexible working, visibility, mentoring and changing company cultures are helping. But – I was once asked by a male recruiter whether I thought I ‘could still be creative’ after I had a baby (yup, that happened). So, changing attitudes towards working mothers and really listening to and understanding what will help them is needed, too.
Incidents like the above aside, I think I’ve been lucky – and don’t get me wrong, also very driven, hardworking and ambitious – but lucky, too.
Lucky that, throughout my career I’ve had the support and championing from both my male and female peers and leaders. Strong, fierce, intelligent, creative people.
I’ve had inspiring male leaders who countered laddish culture, who valued my viewpoint, challenged me, toughened me up (and yes, made me cry… more than once) – but always pushed to get the best from me and support me through my creative journey.
And, more recently in my career, I’ve been lucky to have strong, smart, calm, empathetic and inspiring female leaders to learn from. Women who lead by example and who create an environment where nurturing self-esteem and confidence is championed – for everyone. Leaders I want to be like.
Now it’s my turn to create that environment. I’m part of a leadership team that’s working hard to make sure everyone is supported and challenged to be at their best – to grow, develop and find their own path, regardless of their gender. As a team we’re two-thirds women – a sign of how progressive and empowering our culture is. But, more importantly, it’s a team I hugely value for their daily support and challenge, helping me be at my best.
So, yes, (in the lead up to International Women’s Day), female leaders in the creative industries are still pretty hard to find, but things are changing. And what excites and inspires me most are the people powering that change. Not men, not women, but people. People with a huge drive to lead positive change within their own teams and organisations, as well as in the wider industry.