Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

What does #BreakTheBias mean to digital advertising’s female leaders?

This International Women’s Day, New Digital Age has been fortunate enough to spend time with an incredible group of female leaders from across the digital advertising space. We asked each of them what the theme #BreakTheBias meant to them and what they thought were the essential actions needed to make a positive change. Here’s what they had to say:

Erin McCallion, Chief Marketing Officer, GumGum:

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate female empowerment – something we still cannot take for granted. It’s important to celebrate the success of women around us and to repay those who helped us, by paying it forward ourselves. Mentorship, for instance, is important; as we seek to give the next generation of rising stars the skills to grow and achieve their career goals. Inspirational leaders lift up those around them. And this includes our male allies.

“We can achieve so much more together and by offering supportive environments. This, in turn, helps to attract and retain skilled, high performing employees – and this also means improved wellbeing and productivity.

“So, this International Women’s Day let’s once again come together to spearhead further positive change, within and beyond the media industry. We still need to take every opportunity we can to expose and highlight bias in our everyday lives – to ensure that every woman is given equal opportunities, to remove potential barriers, to shine a light on the challenges faced and to fight for equity. By harnessing the power of our collective voices, we can drive change. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s #BreakTheBias!”

Fern Potter, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Hybrid Theory:

“Working at the intersection between technology and service, I’ve always been passionate about partnerships that deliver optimal outcomes. In my day-to-day role, this focus on technology and people has taught me, time and again, the importance of harnessing not only skills, but enthusiasm, passion and creativity. When this is combined, you can over-deliver on aims.

“So, for me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate these effective collaborations and to make them even better. It’s a time to create new connections, to converse with passion, honesty and commitment to further empower high achieving teams, collaborations and cultures. To do this, we need to roll up our sleeves and talk – to discover, create and crucially implement solutions which help to break the biases which still exist in many organisations. I also see it as a time to thank the many women who have inspired and encouraged me.

“In today’s rapidly evolving media environment – in which we need to power smarter, more responsive and engaging advertising across the customer journey – the need for respect and understanding is more important than ever before. Here’s to International Women’s Day 2022! #IWD22”

Akshaya Mani, Head of Research, Security & Privacy, Optable:

“As part of my role, I regularly interact with industry working groups, whilst innovating and driving technology solutions which support privacy by design. And the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is very relevant to this day-to-day work in which I try to lead by example, promoting the importance of an equal world in which there is no ‘us versus them’, only ‘us’.

“Whether in our place of work, at school, university, or in our communities, being fair to everyone who walks alongside us, encouraging them to succeed, and being empathetic is key not only to our individual, but also to our collective success. You can make a difference, each day, by accepting people as they are, embracing their differences, and valuing their accomplishments. This means ascribing value to an individual’s achievements in and of themselves rather than focusing on who someone is, their gender, or where they come from. In group settings, it can be particularly challenging to tackle assumptions and ensure that nobody is left out. But this is critical. Finally, as a woman, it’s important to fearlessly challenge anything that comes between us and a truly equal world.

“In our industry specifically, there are gaps on a number of levels. Firstly, there is a degree and employment gap – given that, at undergraduate level, women’s participation in computer science degrees is far less than men, and only a small fraction of women opt for tech jobs. Secondly, there is a notable retention gap; with significant failures to retain women who do take up jobs in technology. Thirdly, unconscious bias still very much exists. So, this International Women’s Day, let’s double down on our efforts to #BreakTheBias.”

Janicke Holest Eckbo, Chief Marketing Officer, Cavai:

“International Women’s Day is for me a day of contemplation. This global celebration of the achievements of women is a great reminder to cheer for each other, feel pride, and reflect on both how far we’ve gotten – and how there’s still a way to go.

“With women having been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, as they juggled the demands of family life alongside their careers, I hope that 2022 will see further recognition of women and our contributions and concrete moves to ensure equality for all. The danger of these celebrations – positive as they are – is that they remain talk, without leading to action.

“In order to truly #BreakTheBias, we need words to be supported by action – we need policies which end discrimination and sexism, but more than anything we need to promote and instil healthy, positive attitudes towards equality for all. Let’s make #IWD2022 count.”

We hope that by the time next year’s International Women’s Day comes around, we will be able to hear stories of how action made real change; how we actually broke the bias. We are seeing positive steps and there is a growing appetite to embrace change. Let’s see if this now can become the norm, rather than the exception.

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