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Three challenges female marketers are facing and how to overcome them

By Clare Kemsley, Managing Director of Hays Marketing, Retail and Sales, UK&I

Traditionally perceived as a very female-friendly industry, it’s true that as far as stats tell us, marketing is much more gender balanced than other professions, with the Hays DNA of a Marketing Leader report showing that 48% of marketing leaders are female.

This is an encouraging statistic, but diversity at the top of the profession remains elusive and women are still facing considerable challenges in the workplace.

It is in the interests of organisations both large and small to address the challenges experienced by women in marketing and aim to cultivate their personal growth and professional satisfaction for a more positive and productive working culture for all.

1. Rigid ways of working

Modern life is making ‘flexible working’ an increasingly attractive prospect for many. Balancing a career alongside childcare or caring for elderly parents is a reality for a great number of professionals, and the lack of scope in many companies for a working arrangement that is more conducive to a work-life balance continues to be problematic. 

The Hays What Workers Want 2017 report showed this to be a priority for the majority of those surveyed, with 88% of marketing professionals looking for flexible working when considering a new role.

Why are companies reluctant to embrace new ways of working? Concerns about a decrease in productivity or employee engagement are possible reasons, but by vocalising the positive effects of more fluid working, female marketers can work towards galvanising employers into re-evaluating their working models.

2. A lack of implementation of diversity initiatives

#PressForProgress, as the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, needs to be actioned with a push for real positive change in perceptions as well as hitting targets. 

Initiatives such as the open publication of statistics, appointment of company Heads of Diversity and the commission of regular gender pay gap reports can ensure that businesses are transparent about their push towards a more equal gender balance, helping women in marketing to achieve their full potential.

These are measures that should not only drive gender diversity in marketing generally, but also address the imbalance in further sub-divisions, for example amongst women from BAME backgrounds or across a broader spectrum of ages.

3. Few opportunities for executive coaching

Whilst technical knowledge and ability are of vital importance, soft skills such as leadership, communication and strategic vision are what really elevate women to C-suite level positions. One way that this can be overcome is through the introduction of mentoring schemes which aim to coach junior marketers on how to communicate and influence at a strategic and senior level. The increasing recognition of marketing as a specialism that should have representation at board level is an area that women can and should continue to add value to.

Making coaching schemes widely available within organisations could be a key tool for championing diversity high up in the profession, giving women a voice in an often challenging environment.

Hays is pleased to have achieved the National Equality Standard (NES), one of the UK’s most rigorous and prestigious accreditations for equality, diversity and inclusion. Our reports are designed to help other organisations achieve their diversity goals.

About this author

Over her last ten years at Hays, Clare has developed a detailed understanding of creative and customer focussed industries and the talent they need to succeed. She is a believer that great behaviour drives the culture of the business and allows the customer experience to be one of the highest quality.

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