Let’s start with the good news. A government-backed review has found that, today, nearly 40% of the board positions at the UK’s largest companies are now held by women. With more women in leadership positions across the FTSE 350 than ever before, and a new target of 40% women on boards and in leadership by 2025, we are clearly making progress.
But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. I particularly worry about the impact of the pandemic on women who were expected to take on primary carer roles alongside holding down a career.
Nobody is immune to bias and I think we all have work to do. For me, ‘breaking the bias’ means that people must speak up more and not worry about calling people out. We all need to push for more and make commitments towards truly meaningful solutions. In media and publishing this is especially critical – as an industry which prides itself on effective communication, we need to ensure we are leading by example.
What are the challenges the industry really needs to tackle?
Paternity and maternity leave is so unequal in many countries that it forces many women who are at pivotal points in their careers to make a choice between family and career. This can set them back years in terms of promotions and earning potential.
And still today, there’s a social expectation that women are the primary carers. This was highlighted during the pandemic and I think we will feel the negative impact of that for a few years. What’s more, because women of a certain age are expected to go on maternity leave, I think many are overlooked when it comes to job interviews or promotions – whether they are planning on having a family or not.
For women working in the fast-paced industry of publishing, for instance, pressure to remain connected 24/7 can feel incompatible with parenthood. We need to work hard to ensure that the industry enables all those working within it to maintain a balance, and to bring their best, and complete, selves to work. I’ve seen first-hand how much more productive staff are that feel happy and supported.
Also, girls and women need to see a reflection of themselves in courses and professions that they choose over men. Clearly, if we have less women in those senior roles there will be less acting as role models, which is so critical to young women’s aspirations.
I’m glad to see that a number of UK companies have amended and updated their maternity and paternity policies recently to allow for new fathers to spend more time with their new children. I think this will help with social biases around the ‘primary carer’ role and allow for new mothers to recover, get used to their new role and adapt and return to work feeling more confident in their positions. It also means that if more men are taking longer periods of time off, or more equal parental leave, then the promotion gap wouldn’t be felt so acutely.
What are we doing at Adnami?
Being a Nordic company, the parental leave structure we have at Adnami is progressive. In the past year, we have hired five women, promoted two, and appointed a super colleague who was pregnant when we hired her. We saw potential in her and she has been an inspiring addition to the team. She will be going on maternity leave next month. We look forward to welcoming her back when she is ready. Of course, we aren’t perfect. As I said, we all have work to do. But for a small scale-up we have a very inclusive ethos and some policies that even some FTSE 350 companies can’t rival. That’s something I’m proud of.
But, again, in the world of media and publishing, it’s so important for businesses to be ‘walking the walk’ and not just ‘talking the talk’. We need real solutions and meaningful change. Fortunately, supporting staff – and this includes working women and families – is not only the right thing to do; it also makes business sense.
Managing Director, Adnami
Adnami’s high impact advertising platform delivers astonishing ad experiences for consumers and accelerated returns for publishers and brands. Adnami’s templated and platform-agnostic approach to high impact advertising, provides a scalable and automated solution to run attention-grabbing and impactful advertising campaigns. The company launched in 2017, and works today with a diverse range of clients across Europe, such as Heineken, BMW, American Express, Disney, Samsung and Amazon.