Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

IWD 2023: Chasing Equity – Beth Gordon, The Independent

To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) and our Digital Women Lunch 2023, we’ve been speaking to some of the industry’s leading female voices to get their thoughts on how digital can truly achieve equity. Today, we hear from Beth Gordon, Director of Business Marketing and Communications, The Independent.

The theme of IWD 2023 is equity. How far has our industry come in achieving equity for women rather than just equality? 

Not far enough. There are countless talented women working in the industry but not enough of them hold leadership roles or have careers that last as long as their male counterparts – and the gender pay gap should quite obviously be a thing of the past. 

It’s great that more light is being shone upon subjects such as childcare, flexible working and the menopause, but pigeonholing women’s equity to ‘women’s issues’ means that a myriad of day-to-day realities and experiences are being overlooked. 

Are you worried that macroeconomic issues could have a negative impact on diversity initiatives in our industry?

Absolutely. People who don’t understand that diversity isn’t just the morally right path but that it’s also the route for better performance could well prioritise other things which seem more immediately financially rewarding/easier to conquer – especially when they feel they don’t know where to start or when their workplaces have such ingrained structural inequality and inequity.

For the many businesses who are facing financial difficulties, our message to them must be that diversity plays a key part in addressing these problems – it’s not some luxurious passion project that can wait until another day.  

I also worry that diversity is being conflated with sustainability. These are clearly very different, huge issues in their own right – lumping everything together as ESG does them a disservice and could result in oversimplification, box ticking and lip service. 

What is your advice to anyone in a junior position who wants to engender change within their own organisation?

1) If you see something that needs fixing, do your homework, come up with a plan, speak to others and take action. Don’t ever assume that others will make the change. There are so many reasons why others might not act – they might not see a problem, they might not want to see a problem, it might feel too overwhelming, they might not feel able to improve things, they might be on the receiving end of the problem. So, it’s often up to you to take a stand. 

2) Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Often people will say no to ideas because they’re not perfect on paper. Firstly, if everyone always waited for the perfect plan, nothing would ever happen. Secondly, there’s always things that make perfect on paper change to flawed in reality. So, get going with small steps and iterate along the way.

3) One of the things I always try to remember is whatever you’re not changing, you’re choosing. If you are in the privileged position to be able to make change happen in some way, however small – if you are able to make life better and fairer for someone else – I believe it’s your responsibility to do just that. One day, someone might do the same for you. 

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

1) Always have women involved in decisions that impact women. And my view is that no action which impacts upon a whole business should be made without women (themselves with differing backgrounds) around the table. 

2) Seek diverse perspectives – in everything. Not just for your employees’ benefit – but for your audience. 

3) Realise that striving for diversity, equity and inclusion is not just the morally right, fair route; it’s key to improving performance. It is absolutely not a nice-to-have.