Celebrating International Women’s Day at 3WhiteHats

Polly Bolitho

Senior Content & Outreach Executive

This year the theme of International Women’s Day is #EqualForEach which is running throughout the whole year. It’s based on the concept that an equal world is an enabled world.

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements

In light of International Women’s Day, we’ve taken some time to chat about what this day means to us. Read on to find out what our talented team members and women in 3WhiteHats have to say about their careers so far, what motivates them, and their thoughts on equality in the digital marketing industry.

Hannah, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It is the perfect opportunity to celebrate all of the great things women do and increase visibility across industries that are particularly male-dominated. Whilst we have come a long way in the fight for gender equality, there is still lots that can be done and supporting other women is something we can all do to help.

Have you noticed any changes in job descriptions to attract women to roles?

In recent years there has been a huge push to try and encourage women into different roles, and ensuring the wording used in adverts is gender-inclusive will stop women from assuming it isn’t aimed at them. Using a combination of both feminine and masculine orientated words (decisive and fearless vs dependable and supportive) creates the image of an inclusive working environment, there are even tools that can be used to scan adverts for gender bias. Another example is by making your company values public, as showing your organisation promotes an inclusive and dynamic working environment makes individuals feel more welcome and supported.

Rosita, what advice can you give to others aiming to become an account manager?

You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of SEO, Paid Search, Analytics, and so on. In fact, that’s impossible! Six years on in this agency, I feel I’ve only just burrowed beneath the surface.

Digital marketing is vast and hugely changeable. That’s why people have specialisms and get to know what they need to know. Recognising this will allow you to settle into an Account Manager role. For me, understanding the purpose of each service we offer, and, importantly, when businesses require different facets of that, is what matters.

Your team is your arsenal. Whether it’s to fix a technical error, promote a product, or produce a campaign – my job is to work with our specialists to determine the best approach; not to have all the answers knocking around front of mind.

Do you feel there’s a gender imbalance in digital and why?

A third of our team, agency-wide, are women, and a quarter of the SEO team are women, so, at a glance, the ratio is imbalanced. When you look at the team’s backgrounds and the positions they’re subsequently fulfilling, though, it’s not hard to see why. Lots stem from interest and qualifications in computing and maths – both of which have historically seen a stronger correlation with males over females. Naturally, then, more men end up in these roles.

Of course, this triggers an argument to say we need to encourage more young people – namely women – to study these areas. And perhaps we do. But, I think it’s more a case of destigmatising the industry and recognising that there are countless paths you can take into it. You don’t have to be technical! I started out in content; the person to the left of me in advertising, and the person to the right of me in journalism. I suppose what I’m saying is that we all have different backgrounds and careers which exist in tandem under one roof. And that’s exactly how it should be.

Nicky, you work in the Paid Media team, what inspired you to enter this sector of the industry?

My previous roles in Banking were predominantly numbers-based roles with strict process policies in place which meant little room for creativity. I was attracted to Paid Media as a fine mix of the creative, numerical and analytical arms of marketing. Here I get to build campaigns from scratch, be innovative and creative with copy and targeting, carry out tests to see what works best and then optimise where possible. This involves strategic thinking, in-depth data analysis and thinking outside of the box, along with the constant challenge of keeping up with the ongoing changes made by the platforms! I really enjoy this and find it such a diverse and rewarding industry.

In the last year you’ve come from working for a major bank in London, do you think enough is being done to address gender imbalance?

I think this varies between industry but generally, there’s still a lot to be done. I worked for a Bank with a female CEO, which really championed the progression of women. We had a good internal women’s network, with regular ‘Women in Business’ events as well as a pairing system for more senior women to mentor junior women. Only a fraction of the FTSE 100 CEOs are women, however, and the gender pay gap remains an issue.

Polly, what advice do you have for women leaving university and entering the world of marketing?

Leaving education and being thrown into the world of work and generally ‘being an adult’ can be daunting. From experience, being a younger woman entering a slightly more male-dominated industry, you will learn that you can bring a whole new energy to the workplace, and your skills are just as valuable whether your remit is technical, or creative like mine. It’s also easy to feel self-doubt but listening and learning to those around will help. Remember praise, and use it to fuel you, and take constructive criticism on board, it’ll only make you better!

Remember that a career is about stepping stones, so my advice is to gain as much experience as possible, grab as many opportunities as you can, and never stop trying to learn new things! I would say, as long as you go in with an open mind, an enthusiasm to learn, and a little bit of self-belief, you can achieve just about anything in this industry.

What motivates you professionally?

Feeling fulfilment is important to me in anything I do. If I feel like I am achieving and growing towards something, whether that’s professionally or personally, I’m happy. I love to step back and look at a finished piece of work (especially creative ones!) and feel proud. This, of course, takes work, so that’s what motivates me.

Ange, as someone with a wealth of experience from global media and advertising agencies, what advice do you have on how to stay ahead?

I have been lucky to have worked with so many talented people in my career and have developed a strong network, so my most valuable piece of advice would be to make sure you are always talking to new people and maintaining your relationships. You don’t know when someone is going to need your help or if you will need theirs and everyone has different knowledge and skills to contribute. As I drive to work, I love listening to podcasts, not only on media and marketing but also interviews with CEOs and business leaders. Some of my favourites are Thrive with Ariana Huffington, Foundr with Nathan Chan, FT Start-Up Stories, TED Talks Business and Reply All. I also read a lot of industry publications so my second piece of advice would be to keep educating yourself.

How do you expect the workplace to change over the next five years to encourage more women into work?

We’re already starting to see events for women in business and media. There are events like Women of Silicon Roundabout, there are Facebook groups like Women in Tech SEO which are emerging. I am a firm believer that companies should hire the most suitable people based on skills and attitude, not because they are women, however, I am glad to see more forums for women to share their unique challenges and support each other.

Carrie, as our Finance Administrator you have worked in the finance industry for a large portion of your working life, have you noticed a change in the gender imbalance?

I have worked in many different roles in the finance sector, starting my career in Corporate Insolvency where (at the time) there was a very noticeable gender imbalance within this industry. I remember taking my first Insolvency exam in London and being one of about 8 women in a room of 50 people. Although I did get the chance to work with some very successful men and women at this time. Since then I have worked in accountancy practice and in industry, working closely with businesses in Cornwall to manage their finances. In my opinion, there is a gender imbalance within the financial sector as a whole, more specifically for the higher paid jobs (Managers, financial directors, chartered accountants, for example). It can be difficult for women if they want to take time out to have a child and at the same time strive towards higher-paid jobs like these, as they can often involve years of studying whilst working full-time.

Having said that, I do think that that gap is slowly narrowing, and I also know women who study, who work in finance full or part-time and who also raise children, so it’s not to say you can’t have it all because you’re a woman, it’s about balancing the things you want and having the opportunities to do so. I am hopeful businesses today are focused towards hiring the right person for a role regardless of whether they are male or female, and giving both genders equal opportunities for higher-paid roles.

What’s the best piece of career advice you could give to someone?

To do what makes you happy, not what you think is expected of you and to speak up if you don’t think something is fair in the workplace.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual

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