Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Jasmine Dawson, SVP Digital, BBC Studios – “the journey is far from over”

Following NDA’s recent International Women’s Day event, speaker Jasmine Dawson, SVP Digital, BBC Studios reflects on some of the issues raised and how the industry can do better in supporting women.

Why is it still important to mark International Women’s Day?

As a senior leader, I believe International Women’s Day provides a vital timely marker to celebrate the incredible achievements of women in digital, wider industry and beyond.  More importantly it serves as an annual call to action for equal pay, representation in leadership, and dismantling barriers that hold women back.

We must keep this conversation alive, to raise awareness of ongoing challenges, and advocate for inclusivity. Progress isn’t inevitable and there is always more work to be done on levelling the playing field in many areas, of which equality for women is one.

What are the biggest barriers to women succeeding in your industry?

The social media and digital advertising industry thrives on innovation yet is typically male dominated and can have a culture of long hours, where women can be disadvantaged through unconscious bias.  It’s recognised that work-life balance challenges disproportionately impact women, and visible female leadership is crucial in effecting the aspirations of up-and-coming generations.

I’m proud of what we’ve achieved at BBC Studios Social since launching just shy of a year ago. We are over-indexing on female representation, with measures in place to support and promote flexible working. 

Everyone is seen and treated as an individual where outputs and outcomes are valued above how long they’ve been in the office, how loud their voice is, or how dominant they are in meetings.  This has a knock-on positive effect on team performance, morale, and inclusion in the widest possible sense.

How can men be better allies and supporters of their female colleagues?

They can help by recognising that male privilege and unconscious bias are realities that can only be addressed through education, awareness, and deliberate action.  Amplify the contribution of women when important business decisions are being made, course correcting where they may have been given less share of voice.

Advocate for the promotion of female colleagues’ and their ideas.  Offer to help guide and mentor emerging talent from a generous and selfless standpoint; there is room for us all to be successful, individually, and collectively.

What changes can be made at an organisational or industry level to better support women?

Companies can implement transparent promotion processes, invest in unconscious bias training, and offer flexible work arrangements. 

Industry-wide initiatives focused on mentorship programs and networking events for women in digital advertising can also be incredibly valuable.  The Digital Women International Women’s Day lunch organised by New Digital Age, and mentoring groups Media for All, Digital Leading Ladies, Women in Programmatic, and BIMA, are stellar examples.

How can senior women better support their junior female colleagues?

We can create mentorship programs, share our experiences openly, and advocate for policies that promote work-life balance.  Building a strong women’s network in the workplace can provide invaluable support for women at all stages of their careers.

As well as being a safe space for voicing ideas or concerns, we can share experiences and offer guidance to help other women navigate challenges.

Over the course of your career to date, has the industry improved for women?

There’s no denying progress has been made since I started in the industry in terms of representation and opportunities for women. We see more women in leadership roles and growing attention on diversity and inclusion.

However, the journey is far from over.  We need to keep pushing to ensure the industry is a truly welcoming and a rewarding space for all women.

What are the big talking points among your customers at the moment?

The work that we’re doing at BBC Studios Social is a big talking point in itself; the fact that advertisers can now align with world-leading IP, from Doctor WHO, to BBC Earth, Top Gear to Hey Duggee and Bluey.  We manage over 90+ social channels, which had a combined 6.9 billion social views in 2023.

The availability and importance of brand safe spaces is also important, which is crucial to responsible advertisers, and we are leaders to partner with in that respect.  Being global, it’s interesting to see the differences between territories. In the UK the fact that we’re open for business is turning heads and we’re making headway to establish our BBC Studios Social offer over the pond.

The BBC is already well respected for news in the US and we’re seeing more and more traction around the multi-genre opportunities we can deliver for agencies and brands.