NDA’s Digital Women series is talking to leaders from across our industry to understand the particular issues faced by women. Stacy Durand, Co-Founder of Los Angeles-based Smart Media Technologies, discusses how women are becoming the trendsetters for the new digital advertising industry revolution.
What is the biggest opportunity for women in your sector of the digital industry today?
With the current transformation in the digital advertising industry and as companies explore new channels, the biggest opportunities for women lie in the expanding web 3.0 industry. With all of the new metaverse, NFT, and blockchain strategies, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for women to not only participate but drive substantial growth in these areas. Many web 3.0 experts, on both the marketer and partner side, are women of all ages. We are the trendsetters for this industry as it moves forward.
What is the biggest challenge to you as a woman in the digital industry and how are you overcoming it?
As a founder and owner in the digital marketing industry, I still see female leaders fighting to be recognized for their accomplishments when compared to their male counterparts. Having founded numerous agencies and tech companies, I still see an inherent bias towards men, even those less accomplished.
For me, being knowledgeable, confident, and assertive allows me to overcome these barriers. People respect success regardless of gender, so showing you know what you’re doing is key.
What three things could employer companies do to make the digital industry better for women?
First is mentorship.
Having an experienced female mentor work with younger staff to provide advice and guidance makes a significant difference in their success. Second, career growth opportunities. There have to be the right opportunities for advancement that are proactively offered to qualified female candidates. It’s important to not just post new positions but make sure females are aware of them when they’re a good fit. Lastly, recognition. There should be industry-wide and company-specific opportunities to recognize female contributors.
What support structures and organizations are most important and effective to you as a woman in the digital industry?
Leadership is leadership, and while there are some unique challenges to being a woman business owner, especially in the digital advertising industry, I find that learning from any peer — regardless of gender — helps my success. Being a woman leader before it was common, my experience is that one-to-one relationships with other women are more important than larger organizations.
What is the biggest misconception about women and by women in the digital industry?
Assertive women are bossy — this is both from males and other females. Being an expert as a male is almost assumed while many females have to “prove” it regardless of skill and experience. My biggest advice to women is: to be themselves. You do not have to act stronger or talk louder to be heard. Let your personality shine and your knowledge will show through.