Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Charlene Williams, Group Senior Operations and Business Analyst at Pearl & Dean

With over 7 years of dedicated experience in the media industry, Charlene has honed her expertise through pivotal roles at Primesight, Global Media, and now at Pearl & Dean.

Charlene’s commitment to excellence has earned her recognition as a member of the esteemed inaugural Future 100 Class of 2022. She is deeply passionate about fostering diversity and inclusion within the media landscape and actively contributes to the mission of MEFA (Media For All), who play a pivotal role in empowering Black, Asian, and ethnic minority talent to thrive in the media and advertising industry

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for women in your sector of the digital industry today?

The biggest challenge I think that women in this sector face is Gender Bias, which is encountered in hiring, promotion and recognition, which can, in turn, hinder their advancement. 

Another challenge is a lack of representation, especially in leadership roles and technical positions within the digital industry.  There are many more, but I will end with stereotypes about gender roles and capabilities that can create barriers for women seeking to enter or excel in certain areas of the digital industry.

There are many opportunities too though, it’s not all bad. For instance, there has been an increase in diversity initiatives which is providing more and more opportunities for women to enter, succeed and find their place in this sector. 

Regarding finding their place, there has been an increase in networking and mentoring programs which provide valuable support and guidance. A great opportunity is the flexible working arrangements, due to the type of work there is generally more of an offer of flexible work, which for many women can be an incentive as it helps to allow them to balance their professional and personal responsibilities. 

The digital industry also allows for more entrepreneurship as women have the opportunity to start their own digital businesses, leveraging their skills and creativity to pursue entrepreneurial ventures in areas such as e-commerce, digital marketing, and app development.

What does the industry need to do to better champion women?

To better champion women in the digital industry, organisations must prioritise diversity and inclusion by addressing unconscious biases in hiring and promotion processes while creating supportive environments where women feel valued and respected. 

This can be achieved through continuing with the mentorship and sponsorship programs implemented, providing tailored professional development opportunities, and offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate the diverse needs of women. 

Additionally, celebrating female role models, supporting entrepreneurship, and advocating for policy changes can further empower women in the digital sector. By taking these concerted actions, the industry can foster a culture of equality and opportunity, enabling women to thrive and contribute their talents effectively.

What is the biggest misconception about women and by women in the digital industry?

In my opinion, one of the biggest misconceptions about women in the digital industry, perpetuated both by women themselves and by others, is the notion that women are inherently less skilled or capable in technical or leadership roles compared to men. This misconception stems from long-standing gender stereotypes and biases that overlook or undervalue women’s abilities in STEM fields. However, numerous studies have shown that women possess the same level of talent and potential as their male counterparts in the digital sector. By challenging this misconception and promoting inclusivity and equal opportunity, the industry can harness the diverse talents of women to drive innovation and success.

What is your biggest achievement in digital to date?

Not sure what my biggest achievement is but a recent big one for me was earlier this year when I took the stage at the Waldorf Hilton with Steven Scaffardi to address senior leaders in the media industry.
This was a follow-on from a segment of ‘Who Wants To Be A Media Leader?’ from last October’s Future of Media event where Steve brought together the inaugural class of 22 and the new class of 23 to discuss topics affecting the industry. 

What started as a fun segment turned into a passionate conversation about Talent Retention and DEI in the industry. Unfortunately, the crucial ears and voices, senior leaders, were not in the room to hear the conversation or interject, so Steven gave me the opportunity to take this to them. So in January, this year, I was able to address CEOs and senior leaders and share not only my thoughts but also present an ask on behalf of my fellow Future 100 members, the ask being to listen to the voices of the Future Leaders, to recognise the talent within the industry, and collaborate for lasting changes. This isn’t just another initiative; it’s a call for a permanent solution.

I received great feedback and responses so to achieve that and have that platform to evoke change or something was pretty great.


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