The workplace revolution is here

Bauer Media's latest research suggests that a shift is needed to reflect women's changing aspirations.

Bloody Brilliant Women is the name of Cathy Newman’s new book shining a light on the trailblazing women of the past who have paved the way for women today. Newman was the guest speaker at Grazia and Wacl’s Culture and Commerce lunch this week at Advertising Week Europe.

Newman talked about her book, her career and how, as a mother, she has remodelled a working structure for her family – with her husband John taking on the majority of child-rearing duties.

While there, I couldn’t help but think how apt the phrase "bloody brilliant women" was in describing the women of adland today. Those pursuing their right for a healthier, happier and thoroughly modern workplace culture and, like Newman, redefining what it means to be happy in work and in life.

Newman's musings ring true for the women we spoke to in our most recent audience insight: Grazia Game Changers 2.0.

Four years ago, we surveyed the original game changers – entrepreneurial, savvy women heading out to forge their own career path in the world, whatever the odds. Fast-forward to today and the Game Changers 2.0 are navigating a very different and complicated workplace.

To say the past few years have been turbulent would be something of an understatement. Political, economic and social upheaval has directly impacted our audience of confident women whose aspirations have changed.

Our insight revealed that in our tougher, scarier world, a new generation of females have emerged demanding a workplace revolution to grant them fulfilment over the fast lane, with 76% choosing personal happiness over career aspirations in their life goals. These "bloody brilliant" women are redefining success: happiness and personal fulfilment are their number one aspiration now.

Despite returning to more traditional workplace structures, they refuse to stand for outdated inequalities that pushed them away in the first place, with 87% feeling strongly about the gender pay gap and 77% about the lack of flexible working options.

I’m proud to stand alongside these women and I, too, believe in a workplace revolution for adland to reclaim the most important aspect of a career – happiness.

Of course, this revolution is not limited to women, but I feel privileged, as a female leader in the industry, to be in a position of influence to help drive this vital cultural change for all. There is no doubt that we will see greater business successes with a workforce that is happy and fulfilled.

First, this revolution will be the result of creating a safe working environment for all. A place where people are empowered to be curious and challenge the status quo. At Bauer Media, our commitment to this is driven by Belonging at Bauer, a programme of action designed to deliver greater inclusivity and diversity of our workforce and in our products.

We have formed a diversity and inclusion forum with 20 passionate and committed representatives from all areas of our business to drive our agenda and challenge leaders on how our business can improve.

This safe environment can only exist when we support the physical and mental well-being of our people. At Bauer Media, we are spearheading the Where’s Your Head At campaign – seeking governmental support to deliver legislative change so that mental and physical health are given parity of treatment at work. Our insight revealed that 56% of those questioned have experienced a mental-health issue, yet only one in four managers are trained in how to deal with these. This has to change.

With more than 200,000 signatures on our public petition, cross-party support and the backing of more than 50 UK businesses, we know we are changing the conversation and will continue to fight to protect mental health in the workplace.

Of course, a workplace revolution will be based in equality and, like our Game Changers 2.0, I feel passionately about closing the gender pay gap and I’m proud to work for a company committed to redressing the balance with a leadership team equally split in gender and an executive board with more female representatives than men.

Where do I stand in all of this? Well, I hope I embody the essence of this workplace revolution in how I conduct myself as a leader. I work four days a week – part of the growing number of people remodelling the working week to work for us – and I’m passionate about the importance of showing vulnerability both as a leader and a human being in the workplace. How can we, as leaders, know everything? Well, we can’t. But what we can do is create a safe and supportive environment for our people, where they feel empowered to be brave and bold – and vulnerability is instrumental in allowing that to happen.

So, I call on the "bloody brilliant" people of adland to empower themselves and their teams to enlist in a workplace revolution so that each and every one of us can thrive at work.

Abby Carvosso is group managing director, advertising, at Bauer Media (picture credit: Advertising Week Europe 2019)

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