WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

August is Women’s Month, and it has prompted me to reflect on the role and importance of women in the workplace, and more specifically in the advertising industry.

A recent statistic on female representation in the South African advertising industry should give us all a pause for thought. A mere 3% of creative heads are female, while there is unquestionably a wealth of exceptional female creative talent in our industry, why is it that we do not see more female creative heads?

Across most of the advertising industry, we see a fairly even split of male vs. female staff amongst junior staff and even in mid-level, however, it appears that an increasing number of women are choosing to leave the industry at, or before reaching a senior level. This means we are losing out on a huge amount of talent, experience, skills and insight in the process.

Women account for around 85% of all purchasing activity, across any sector you can think of – technology, cars, pharmaceuticals, you name it – women hold the household purse strings. So, as advertisers, it is vital to have a deep and thorough understanding, that is relatable, of their thought-processes and purchasing behaviour. Having women in senior roles within the advertising space allows businesses to gain valuable insights in order to craft great advertising.

 Unsurprisingly, according to research, 91% of female consumers feel advertisers do not understand them; 7 in 10 women go further to say they feel “alienated” by advertising. Men overwhelmingly dominate creative departments and their output, which cannot be good for creativity, innovation, audiences or the way agencies and companies operate. It should then be concerning to hear that there are very few female creative directors making the adverts that women see.

To have any hope of addressing these issues and bringing about meaningful change, it is vital that businesses create an environment that not only encourages women, but allows them to express themselves and have the confidence to truly flourish within their roles – as creatives and leaders.

Creating such an environment starts by looking at the experience of women in junior positions, where 88% of young female creatives say they lack role models, and 70% say they have never worked with a female creative director or executive creative director. With so few mentors within businesses, young female creatives do not receive the right skills, advice and tools to help them develop and thrive. Studies show that this is a major contributing factor to young women leaving in their first year, so providing female mentors at the junior level is critical. 

Another factor that we should pay special attention to is that 60% of young females say they believe advertising is a career that does not support young families. With late nights and long hours perceived as standard in creative departments, many see advertising as a career they can’t sustain with a young family. It is therefore crucial that businesses provide flexible working conditions, job shares and child care assistance for all female workers.

Looking inward to the team here at hoola, we are privileged to have an abundance of female talent across all levels and departments. Our staff is predominantly female and we are fortunate to have a fantastic leadership team, with three female Heads of Department guiding our team of hoolagans. We are also incredibly blessed to have two Creative Heads (one female and one male) – combining two different perspectives into a balanced approach that sets us apart from competitors. 

Embracing, celebrating and utilising the unique perspectives, skills, insights and leadership styles that these amazing women bring to the team is the reason we continue to innovate and achieve success as a business, while enjoying a truly vibrant, rich and dynamic company culture and work environment.

Happy Women’s Month from all the hoolagans!