International Women's Day is an important day that calls for gender equality and celebrates the social, political, economic and cultural achievements of women. Inspired by #MeToo and #TimesUp, this year's IWD theme is #PressforProgress, acknowledging the mounting global advocacy movement surrounding sexism and gender parity.
Below a few of our team members talk about the significance of IWD and what it means to them.
What work do you admire in relation to women’s rights and equality?
Catherine Cribbin, Industry Initiatives Manager
Within our industry, I’d have to say Creative Equals really stand out. Their work across the entire industry tackling diversity issues and inequality is fantastic; ranging from training courses, the first-ever Neurodivsrsity conference, an Equality Standards Certification for businesses and ‘Returnships’ for working parents. Seriously, check them out.
I must also mention Cindy Gallop. Her work on MakeLoveNotPorn gives me hope about teenagers growing up in a world of social media and easy access to all sorts of content. Plus, if I’m ever feeling frustrated about inequality, her twitter feed is a revitalising source of amusement, empowerment and inspiration.
If you’d like a soundtrack to celebrate this wonderful day, I’d recommend to ‘The Day Women Took Over’ by Common ft BJ The Chicago Kid; for me, it represents a positive move (far) away from the often-misogynistic lyrics of hip-hop.
How have you committed to change?
Lizzie McIntosh, Head of Events and Training
As a team of four strong women working in what is still arguably a male dominated industry we, as an events team, have a responsibility to our members and the industry as a whole to ensure that there is an equal gender split of speakers at all of our events… from the small seminars, right up to our flagship event, IAB Engage, which is in front of 1,200 people.
We need to make sure women feel empowered on stage, that they are acknowledged as industry experts, thought leaders and generally kick-ass human beings.
What are men doing for their part in IWD?
Jon Mew, CEO
As a man, it might be tempting to pass the buck and mentally check out of International Women's Day as something that you're not properly qualified to comment on, but it’s critical that every man takes the opportunity to think about how they can make a difference.
The fact that there is still such a difference in the treatment of women and men in 2018 is very wrong and it won’t get fixed without actively making changes. One example is flexible working hours – there are two ways you could approach it. If you focus just on rigorously ensuring women and men are treated the same you might look through a lens that means you say no to a woman that wants flexibility in her schedule because a male equivalent doesn't have it. That isn't creating equality, it's creating a barrier. Alternatively, if you try and create flexibility for all (where it works) and actually demonstrate it yourself as a male leader, the outcome is entirely different.
I hope all men look at International Women's Day not as a chance to check out, but as a chance to think about what role they can play and how we can play our part in creating the right culture to allow equality to thrive.
What does it take to be an inspiring woman leader?
Sophia Amin, Director of PR & Communications
From my career (and life outside of work), I’d say there are three things I’ve loved and learnt from my role models.
1. A little bit of fierce. Everyone is inspired by different things, but just about every woman I’ve looked up to has a bit of ‘oomph’. They’ve shocked, questioned and pushed me, but I really wanted to be on their team. I met one on the other side of an interview table; I loved her style but thought she’d eat me for breakfast. Luckily, she didn’t and instead hired me, taught me to believe in myself, and always brought scary challenges my way. Added bonus, we became the greatest of friends.
2. Big ears. My best role models listen to me and then, when I need it, give me perspective, not the answer. Management is great to hone your listening skills, but I’ve found doing a bit of mentoring helps you listen even better. Someone else’s challenges are far less emotive so you can listen without prejudice and offer a view from experience.
3. Men. To grow, you need just as many good men as women around you. It’s important to have male leaders and colleagues who are allies and see no difference in women’s abilities or contributions. I feel incredibly lucky that mine understand I want to do a great job but I also want to look after my two young boys brilliantly, and the reality is sometimes, one has to give for the other. They trust me to do both to the best of my ability, and I genuinely believe “my best” is now better than ever before.
How are you addressing the issues brought forward in IWD?
Tim Elkington, Chief Digital Officer
One of the big issues from me around gender equality is making sure that, as the IAB, we set the right tone for the industry in terms of the gender balance of speakers at our events. As the trade body that represents the whole digital advertising industry we have a responsibility to set an example in this area - there’s nothing more uncomfortable than seeing all male panels or all male conference sessions. In fact, this is so important to us that we worked with our Board to set KPIs on gender diversity of speakers. We’ve made good progress – in 2015 21% of speakers were female and in 2016 it rose to 40% – but there’s still more to do and it’s important to keep the ambition to achieve absolute gender equality front of mind.
What does it mean to be a woman in the ad tech space?
Caroline Manson, Marketing Manager
I still feel like we’re a minority in the industry, particularly when you look at leadership positions. Like many other industries, ad tech can suffer from a lack of diversity but companies are taking positive steps to improve this. At the IAB UK Leadership Summit two weeks ago, I was inspired and hopeful to see how passionate the leaders of some of our member companies are about making a change.
What does IWD mean to you?
Mike Reynolds, Senior Industry Initiatives Manager
For me, International Women’s Day highlights the ongoing need for men and women to work together to achieve gender equality. ‘Gender equality’ means lots of different things to lots of different people, but something I feel passionately about is for women to be professional judged on merit, not gender, and to be given the same opportunities as men – particularly relevant to the media industry. My, perhaps utopian, hope is that we’ll get to a point where won’t need a day to highlight gender disparity because there won’t be one.
How will you #pressforprogress?
James Chandler, CMO
I will #pressforprogress by making sure that at the IAB, being a mum doesn’t mean your career can’t progress. Of course, we shouldn’t be held back by our own biases that not all women want to become mothers - but for those that do, I’ll commit to making work better specifically for mums, expectant mums and women trying to start a family.
There’s absolutely more we can all do as leaders to support and celebrate men who make family a priority too. For me, the binary way of seeing men as career-driven breadwinners and women as full-time mums whose career and opportunities take a back seat as a result, undermines all the positive things we’re doing to make the places we work more equal.