In honor of Women’s History Month, Campaign US is checking in with women across the industry, from all career levels, on how they’ve navigated the past year personally and professionally.
This interview with Brianna Zuniga, account executive, BBDO NY, has been lightly edited for clarity.
What has the past year been like for you personally?
Mentally challenging and draining. But I have been intentional about how I view it and I am creating opportunities for self-discovery both personally and professionally.
I found it challenging to find my voice and identity as a woman in the virtual workplace when I had only started my career in marketing six months before the pandemic. I know that your 20s are some of the most important years that shape your identity and career, and it’s frustrating to think of the moments I’m missing out on, potentially stunting my growth.
How have you managed through isolation, burnout and other challenges of the past year? What strategies have you used to balance work and home life?
Accepting the state of the world and recognizing my negative thought patterns took time, but I slowly chose to focus on the pandemic as an opportunity.
Leaning into mental health resources, I’ve learned a lot about how to take care of myself. For instance, BBDO’s IDEA group hosted a mental health workshop, providing us with a toolkit for taking care of our bodies in stressful times.
Strategies that have helped me include journaling, establishing an enjoyable morning routine, meditating and working out. One of my favorite ways to stay balanced is to book time in my calendar to walk outside and see the sun. It’s also important to let your brain know that work is over for the day. Catching up with friends, working out or reading a book help me distinguish this transition.
What can we do in our industry about the current crisis of women leaving the workforce?
Our industry can spearhead meaningful structural policy changes to support not only women, but families. We can set an example to normalize family support, such as childcare and flexible hours. It’s important for industry thought leaders to be vocal about cultivating a more inclusive post-COVID workplace.
What progress has the industry made in achieving gender parity? What still needs to be done?
I see progress in that there are more women in leadership roles serving as great role models. The industry has also made strides in normalizing paternal leave and increasing flexibility for working mothers.
That said, women hold only 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEO roles, so there is still work to be done.
What work can still be done to address the disproportionate impact this crisis has on BIPOC women?
There should be more discussion and focus on the root of the problem: our workplace model and system. We know the structure is outdated, but perhaps we can think about how to leverage this opportunity as an industry to change workplace structures to emphasize inclusivity. We should have a greater focus on intentionally elevating BIPOC’s voices and encourage everyone to speak out and advocate for change.
How can the industry support women in the workforce during this stressful time?
Leadership in our industry has a responsibility to cultivate inclusivity. It is imperative that leaders invite committed women and caregivers to the table, to listen and support, which will in turn prevent burnout.
As an industry, we have an opportunity to rise up and redefine workplace dynamics, including reallocating funds to support employees, whether that be mental health resources or tutoring for caregiver’s children.