Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

IWD 2023: Chasing Equity – Jo Mazenko, Metro

To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) and our Digital Women Lunch 2023, we speak to some of the industry’s leading female voices to get their thoughts on how digital can truly achieve equity. Today, we hear from Jo Mazenko, Commercial Director at Metro.

What are you most impressed by in how your own company is making efforts to achieve equity?

I’m proud to say that we are committed to a culture of fairness and impartiality at Mail Metro Media. We believe it is our collective uniqueness that enables us to be a better team – one that nurtures creativity, drives innovation and unleashes the potential of our people. Our goal is to reflect the true diversity of the audiences we reach. We have a dedicated ED&I Committee where individuals come together to empower change. We encourage all members to complete the IPA Diversity and Inclusion Essentials certificate, which I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed. We also support ERGs, helping foster a more inclusive workplace. One I am proud to have set up is for Working Parents, with the help from some colleagues and support of our CRO, who is even giving us budget for school holiday entertainment!

What will be the biggest challenge in achieving equity in the digital industry?

I think the biggest challenge is ensuring everyone, especially at leadership level, needs to become completely fair and inclusive, so everybody has the opportunity for career progression, and we have a fair process for jobs and progression. We also should remove unnecessary requirements on individuals like degree qualifications, and encourage more flexibility for a more broad range of opportunity. Embracing inclusion and fostering a culture of belonging is key.

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

Recruitment freezes are a by-product of hard times and commonplace in companies across the media industry – this is certain to have a negative impact on hiring and retaining diverse talent. Diverse talent acquisition is essential in our industry, to fuel a competitive advantage and recruitment budget deficits could hinder even internships being adopted. Even with the economic headwinds we are currently facing, Mail Metro Media is proud to be a changemaker in partnership with Brixton Finishing School, offering at minimum of two annual internships to give young talent the opportunity to explore the advertising industry – many of whom flourish with us or in new roles across the industry!

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

My advice to anyone in a junior position who wants to engender change within their own organisation would be firstly to immerse themselves in as many ED&I training courses as possible, attend as many talks and events on offer and educate themselves on what it takes to create an inclusive workplace. If your organisation doesn’t already have a dedicated ED&I committee, this is a great place to start, recruiting like-minded colleagues who care about inclusivity and want to champion change. Develop a strategy, define your purpose and ensure you up-skill those who want to go on this journey with you. It’s time consuming but massively rewarding!

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

There is a huge amount of opportunity for women in the digital industry and I really do believe that we can have it all! At Mail Metro Media, we have lots of women at director level, many of those working mums. It’s not easy to juggle a thriving career and motherhood, but in the post pandemic world, media companies are more accepting of flexible working patterns which is hugely helpful for managing both a successful career and a young family. Additionally, our business understands the needs of women, across different life stages and we have policies in place to offer support. For example, we now have a menopause policy, and have hosted various menopause events, even giving out books that offer support and advice from women with shared experiences. Metro now has a female editor across all platforms, Deborah Arthurs, who is a brilliant leader and female inspiration.

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

Bloom is a great example of a support network for women in the communications industry, empowering women to unlock their full potential. Being a member of Bloom creates great opportunity to network with other women, in a safe space, and also to mentor more junior women so they can learn from your experience. Mail Metro Media is also proud, headline sponsor of Female Frontiers, where we celebrate inspirational women in advertising, media, marketing and technology with an annual awards ceremony. Female mentorship is extremely powerful in helping women build their confidence, guiding them through challenges as they advance in their careers. Our very own Freena Tailor who joined us from Brixton Finishing School was shortlisted for the ‘Rising To The Top’ award at the Female Frontier awards in 2022!

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

I think a big misconception about women is that, when they have children, they are not completely committed to their career any longer. I think it’s quite the opposite. When you have children to get home to, you learn to be 100% focused on your job during working hours and you become more efficient than ever because you don’t have time to waste. You also have people depending on you which makes you more determined to do the best job you can, giving you the best chance for career progression and success.