Are we there yet?
Every week, we ask industry insiders across all job levels and titles to share personal stories about equality, diversity and inclusion in adland.
We know there's still so much to be done, but we want to document the highs and lows as the industry slowly transforms for the better.
Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.
During my pregnancy, I remember panicking about my career. As a woman and immigrant in a creative role in the tech-forward experiential advertising industry, I fought hard for my success and wasn’t ready to compromise or give up what I had achieved. I could not (nor did I want to) separate myself from my career or from motherhood. I merely wanted them to coexist.
I started researching other women’s experiences, hoping to catch a glimpse of what my future held. And then, I panicked more. The lack of representation was more shocking than what I anticipated. And, the reports from mothers in similar situations (measured by our level of experience, city, age, type of agency) were not exactly encouraging to say the least.
Many women were getting fired, given low priority projects, or being overlooked altogether. I struggled to find what I wanted to hear the most - that regardless of all of the challenges ahead, it was doable to be a full-time creative and a dedicated mother.
The lack of support and representation for mothers in advertising (and most work environments) is not new, in fact, it continues to remain a problem year in and year out. Proposed changes happen at an extremely slow pace and the truth is that life continues, and women are left to figure it out and make it work. They have to, right? Sometimes it’s with the help and support of a spouse, partner or family, but oftentimes, it’s without any support at all. For every solution proposed, there are 10 others ignored or postponed. The challenges do not stop. Neither do the pitches, projects, mentorships, conferences, travel, meetings, dinners or all-nighters.
There is no sense of urgency in addressing matters of motherhood in the industry, but there should be.
How about something that proves we are making progress?
I performed well during my pregnancy and was promoted when I was six months pregnant. People were shocked, and many women in the company pulled me aside to tell me what it meant to them. Many wanted to have children but did not think they would/could because of the consequences it could have on their careers. They saw my promotion as a collective victory to be celebrated by all.
At a time when many employers question the investment and value of an employee, mine took a stand and reiterated my worth. This brought me confidence and security, and helped ease the angst and pressure I felt. On a broader level, it set a precedent and was proof that women could continue to thrive in their careers during and throughout motherhood.
What else needs to be done to get there?
Acknowledging the issue is not enough because with awareness comes responsibility. When you’re aware of what’s wrong and fail to act upon it, you are part of the problem.
We need to implement changes, commit and create a clear plan to bridge these gaps and offer true support to parents. We need to shift our behaviors and place a value on efficiency over long wasted hours at the office. Maternity leave, childcare, flexible hours, equal pay and opportunities, this is just a sample of what can be done to start flipping this scenario and creating a more balanced, diverse industry for moms.