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“Balance drives a better working world. Let's all help create a #BalanceforBetter.” 

This is the theme of this year’s International Women's Day, a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

At EMR we take the issue of the gender balance in marketing seriously, both for our clients, our candidates and ourselves. Our partnership with Women in Marketing sees us support them in their own initiatives to promote gender equality within our industries, and our reporting on the gender divide in marketing has proved just how great a gap there is.  This year’s Market Report, which is out soon, showed improvement in female representation in senior roles compared to a decade ago. However, 2019’s analysis found no change year-on-year in the top roles or pay – there are still double the number of male CMOs and Directors compared to female. In fact, 4 in 10 private companies reported a wider gender gap this year according to the BBC.

So what can be done? 

Over the last year we have been speaking to female marketing leaders who have made it to the top in male-dominated industries to discover just how they did it and their perspective on balancing for better. 

Their advice shines a spotlight on four key areas that are important for anyone navigating their way through a successful career, as well as employers on how they can better balance gender equality across their departments.

1. Create opportunities for brilliance

“You have to do more than your day job to stand out. Put your hand up, be eager. Your reputation is everything and once it’s established opportunities will come your way” – Jane Parry 

“Go and dare – be the change agent. Come out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself.” – Payal Raina 

Women sometimes feel they have to work twice as hard to stand out. Adopting a recognition and reward strategy can help provide opportunities for anyone who works hard, and especially help females who aren’t as good at shouting about their achievements. 

2. Invest in training and development

“Marketing is constantly evolving and changing, and it’s imperative to have a constant curiosity to keep up with trends. You have to continue to push yourself to keep on learning throughout your career. I invest in training for me and my department, and have up-skilled many of my team to experience more in digital” – Kirsten Burt 

“Higher education in business has been transformative for my career, especially as a woman in banking. I completed an MBA in International Management in my mid-20s, which gave me the confidence to speak-up and lead in a mostly male environment”– Kirsten Burt 

Our market report shows that investment in training is falling, but at a time when upskilling existing employees, especially in digital skills, is more important than ever. Female employees often value a total benefits package, so offering training and development opportunities are a great way to retain quality staff, upskill your department and keep female employees especially valued.

3. Champion flexible working 

“I have retained all our talented women who are mothers, by offering them all the flexibility they need. I think we are all grateful to be offered this flexibility and work even harder and show more loyalty to managers and firms who offer it. I think flexible working is a godsend and the best thing ever for balancing work and parenthood’ - Kirsten Burt

“It is really important to have a supportive employer [with young children]; I was able to work from home and have flexible hours. Because of my global roles I had the trust to manage my own time. Ultimately, you have to have the belief and as long as you’re delivering excellence that’s all that matters” – Payal Raina 

We are actively seeing employers lose out on talent if they fail to offer flexible working. This applies to all employees but especially working mothers. Offering more flexible working hours, opportunities to work from home and part-time roles where available are a great way to attract top female talent to your business.

4. Use data to justify salary conversations and benchmark pay

“I do think [its] true that women under-sell themselves and give recruiters salary expectations that are too low to move. I think women need to be bolder and ask for the bigger salaries they deserve. Look at salary surveys and stand your ground” – Kirsten Burt 
“Reading industry reports, understanding your perceived value in a firm and maintaining a record of successful ROI driven initiatives are good contributors to salary benchmarking” – Jen Barham
“I’m a strong believer in the fact that metrics of success should be reviewed to ensure that they are gender neutral - often, success isn’t taken based on delivery, but by those who talk about their success in delivery, which can sometimes be easier for men surrounded by other men, than for women”– Jen Barham 

Ensuring that pay review structures, and those recognition and reward schemes, are based on SMART objectives and measurable data, wherever possible, will help to level pay-related conversations.

You can read the latest full interview in our series with Payal Raina here


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