Let's embrace women succeeding in new business departments

Succeeding in new business is one of the few ways that women can currently attain senior management positions, says The Future Factory's account manager.

In this industry we’re lucky to have had trailblazers such as Cat Davis who have set an example and broken down the barriers to female success, but as I read Cat’s article last Tuesday morning, I couldn’t help but feel that her words lacked a certain amount of fact and feminism.

My role at The Future Factory involves working alongside small to medium sized creative agencies on lead generation and new business strategy. So with this perspective, I thought I would respond to a couple of the points that Cat highlighted in her article and offer an alternative opinion.

"New business is shockingly and disgracefully dominated by women"

Am I a disgrace? Really, I’m sad to see such damning language being used. New business is an area where women are excelling, should we not be embracing this and celebrating that women are finally leading businesses forward? 

"Edging their way up the management greasy pole while denying anyone else the opportunity to give it a go"

My career motivation doesn’t involve denying anyone their chance to get to the top, be it via a pole or not. I highly doubt that women in new business actively go out of their way to stop others from progressing by staying in a role for many years. If anything, coming through the new business ranks is one of the few ways that women can currently attain senior management positions.

"Far from being glorified and bubbly hostesses, new business is strategic and demands that the person doing it is fully immersed in all areas of the agency, whilst displaying a resilience and determination that not everyone is lucky enough to have."

I couldn’t agree more. So now the women have ‘prettied up the room and made the canapés’, lets get the men in to do the real strategic thinking. I don’t think so. Let’s work together and celebrate the fact that we’re not just fluffing the pillows, but actually getting our teeth into the real nuts and bolts of business.

"Where are all the men? Why aren’t they being given the opportunities in this most crucial area?" 

An interesting issue to raise, I myself have always wondered why men aren’t being given more opportunities. Figures in 2015 showed there were a total of seven female chief executives and 17 male chief executives called John in charge of FTSE 100 companies. At the highest level women are being out done by men called John. (No offence to the Johns out there).

With all of this in mind, I decided to look into some agencies myself to shine a light on this gender imbalance. Taking a cross section of 100 agencies, I found that 61 of them employed a business development director. Of those, 52% were male and 48% were female. 

This is hardly a shocking disgrace. In fact it seems to be a model of equality that many industries could only dream of.

In order to move forward, let’s not squash our achievements, lets promote and relish in all their glory. In the immortal words of my all time favourite band, the Spice Girls – Girl Power!

Ellie Mayes is account manager at The Future Factory.

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