Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Lorraine Jeckells, Managing Partner, Free Partners

With more than 20 years’ experience in the financial services and agency worlds, Lorraine Jeckells, Managing Partner at Free Partners, fully understands the direct line between marketing and commercial results. Here, she outlines her thoughts on how women could be better supported throughout their careers…

What is the biggest opportunity for women in your sector of the digital industry today?

One of the most exciting opportunities for women in digital today is the incredible growth and dynamic nature of the sector. We’re seeing an unparalleled expansion, especially in areas like marketing, where creativity and fresh ideas are in high demand.

As the digital world keeps evolving, companies are constantly seeking new and impactful strategies to engage with their customers. This is where diversity of thought becomes a game-changer, and it’s an area where women can really shine. There’s a growing recognition of the value that diverse perspectives bring to the table, which opens up fantastic opportunities for women to not only enter the digital industry but also to thrive and advance their careers.

Within the insurance industry, which is where my agency Free Partners specialises, the opportunities for women are particularly exciting. The insurance sector is undergoing a digital transformation, making this the perfect time for innovative minds to step in with fresh creativity and empathy. Moreover, as the industry shifts towards digital channels, there’s a growing need for skills in data analytics, customer experience design, and digital marketing campaign creation. Women with these skills, or the drive to learn them, have the chance to be at the forefront of this change, shaping how companies in the insurance industry interact with their audience.

What is the biggest challenge to you as a woman in the digital industry and how are you overcoming it?

I consider myself lucky in that I personally haven’t encountered many significant challenges caused by being a woman!  Where I’ve seen opportunity, I’ve seized it. I suspect my ‘anything is possible’ attitude came from my incredibly strong and supportive mum.  

Professionally, the same applies. Women need strong, supportive female role models to show them the way; show them what’s possible. In the digital industry, particularly in the creative sectors, being able to connect with female mentors and role models is a significant challenge for women, including myself.  

Throughout my career I’ve been privileged to work with many clients who are incredibly accomplished female leaders. There is limited availability of such senior women, and this scarcity can sometimes create a barrier to confidently navigating and advancing our careers. That’s why we need to keep lifting women, making them more visible and accessible, so that other women are lifted too.

Personally, I’ve adopted a proactive approach in my professional journey, actively seeking to connect and engage with other women in the industry, forging a network where we can exchange experiences and support each other. This not only enriches my own career but also positions me to mentor and inspire young women who are keen on entering the digital and creative domains.

In addition, I concentrate on cultivating a personal brand that reflects both my confidence and expertise. My aim is to not only showcase my skills and achievements but also to contribute as a visible and accessible role model, thereby encouraging more women to confidently pursue their ambitions in the digital marketing space.

What three things could employer companies do to make the digital industry better for women?

Employer companies can do three things to make the digital industry better for women:

  • We need to focus on bringing more amazing women on board! By tailoring our recruitment efforts to be more welcoming to women, we’re showing our commitment to making our workplace a more inclusive space for them.
  • We must provide support and growth, hand in hand. By offering mentorship alongside career training and personal support plans, we’re not just helping women develop their skills but also helping them to climb the career ladder, surrounded by inspiring role models and mentors.
  • Create a culture of respect and leadership for all. Women want the kind of workplace where everyone feels valued and respected, without fear of sexism, discrimination or harassment. By creating a culture that’s all about inclusion and respect, and by encouraging women to take on leadership roles, we’re building a more equitable representation of women in the industry.  In addition, this will help establish those role models for future generations that we’re lacking at the moment. 

What support structures and organisations are most important and effective to you as a woman in the digital industry?

    For me, as a woman in digital marketing, the most valuable support I receive comes from networking groups. These groups offer a fantastic platform where women can connect with fellow professionals, exchange ideas, and draw inspiration from each other’s experiences. It’s about building a community where we can support each other, share insights and grow together professionally.

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

    The biggest misconception about women in the digital industry is the unfounded belief that they lack the natural aptitude for careers in technology and creativity compared to men. This is, of course, untrue! The tech and creative sectors are filled with incredibly talented women who contribute significantly to these fields.

    It potentially stems from the fact that women are underrepresented in leadership roles in the digital industry. When women are not visible in leadership positions, it can be easy for people to assume that they are not qualified for or not interested in these roles.

    Misconceptions like these are not only unfair but also detrimental. They can discourage women from pursuing digital careers and could, in some cases, make it more difficult for them to be taken seriously by their peers and colleagues.

    It’s important to challenge these misconceptions and to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for women in the digital industry. By doing so, we can unleash the full potential of women in this field and create a more innovative and successful industry for all.