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Work Like a Girl: How Women Leaders Make for Better Agencies

In the US, women control 60% of the wealth. Globally, they control over $20 trillion in spending. So, why does so much of marketing directed at women fall short? I believe the problem starts with the leadership at many creative agencies. Because, more than likely, that’s exactly where the women aren’t.

Who’s really holding the purse strings?

Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases in the US. And they’re making the big decisions—choosing the cars, picking the cable providers, buying the technology, selecting the vacation destinations. They download more movies and music than men do. They have more purchasing power than ever, and yet a recent survey reported that 91% of women don’t think advertisers understand them.

Are glass ceilings stunting your business’s growth?

Why the disconnect? Women currently only make up 11% of the creative leadership roles at agencies. And, as you can probably imagine, the number of women in technology leadership is even lower still. When it’s mostly men making the marketing decisions, a majority of our customers’ points of view are grossly underrepresented. It can create a big gap between who your audience is and the people creating the work. The bottom line: not having women represented on your agency’s team is a serious business matter.

How can you grow up to be what you don’t see?

It’s not just a business problem. Our kids see thousands of marketing messages a day, so the messages our boys and girls consume every day matter. The women they see in ads should be as amazing as the women they see in their everyday lives. As marketers, we have a responsibility to help them value women for how they think—and not how they look.

Making your group smarter and more empathetic: The big secret

Researchers at MIT discovered through groundbreaking research that the collective intelligence of groups increases when women are added to a male-only team. The team doesn’t just get smarter by one; adding women gives everyone an IQ bump across the board. Women bring empathy and intuition for the customer, creating a diversity of ideas and solutions. And that’s a win for everyone (especially your customers).

The questions you should be asking

How does your creative agency stack up? And while we’re at it, how does your own marketing team fare? Is your agency/marketing team:

- Creating a workplace that encourages, celebrates, and mentors women from the moment they step in the door?
- Grooming women to be the best communicators and presenters they can be (so they can be heard amid their louder colleagues)?
- Supporting and celebrating the family so both women and men are able to balance their career growth with a fulfilling work-life balance?
- Nurturing an environment where women feel appreciated and where they can get help resolving issues?

I’m proud to work in a place where talented women leaders thrive in every department: creative, technology, strategy, finance, account management, and even ownership. For us, it isn’t about diversity quotas; instead, we have purposely developed an environment that fosters creative problem-solving that puts our clients’ customers first. And we recognize that to make that happen, we need to have input from all sorts of voices. It just makes good business sense. And it makes good people sense, too.