We’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them.
Helen Lawrence left London for San Francisco last year to take up the role of running Twitter’s social strategy globally. A stalwart of the UK’s social media scene, before joining Twiter, she led social media at companies including Asos and Dare.
Who is your digital hero?
The UK has the most incredible gang of people fixing the issues that women face when working in advertising and digital. It isn’t good enough to say, “hire more women” or “pay equally”, we need to fix the root causes of the issues.
These women are doing just that:
Ali Hannan, at Creative Equals, is fixing equality in the workplace by creating an ‘equality standard’ that workplaces have to meet; Deb Khan and Lisa Unwin, at She’s Back, are helping women return to work; Laura Jay-Bee at She Says is focussing on engagement, education and advancement of women in advertising; Anjali Ramachandran co-founded Ada’s List, supporting women in tech.
What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?
Fifteen years ago, the advertising agency world was quite different. It was more male dominated than it is today and you’d hear all these stories of what the lads would get up to.
Thankfully, it’s better today but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Ali Hannan’s work highlights the problem: in London, just 12% of creative directors are women.
Only 25% of women have a female line manager. I was lucky that my first boss at MTV, Mardi Caught, was a badass hero. She set examples that I still think about to this day. But after that, it was a lot of men in very senior positions. Diverse leadership creates successful businesses.
How has their heroism helped drive digital?
A recent report from the World Economic Forum found that only 17% of employees in the tech sector are women and 97% of women in their late teens say that a tech career wouldn’t be their first choice.
Digital agencies in particular need a focus on diversity, especially within the tech departments.
More agencies need to support programs for supporting diversity in learning to code, and removing the stigma of working in a tech dept.
What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
People calling themselves digital ninjas.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
I signed up to Twitter in 2007, quite early on really. It was back in the days of Tweet Ups in pubs. “Hi, I’m on Twitter too”. That funny little microcosm of London digital peeps that met through Twitter at that time still thrives today, still with a pint in hand, still all following each other.
If you had told me back then that I’d be running social for Twitter… well, I’d have bought another pint and been really quite happy.
In terms of achievement, pretty chuffed that I got an Ainsley Harriott gif published from the corporate handle.