Women in Workplace
Have you heard yet about The League of Extraordinary Women? I can’t tell you how excited I am about it.
The League - a list compiled by Fast Company magazine - is made up of 60 high-profile women who are doing amazing things for women (and girls).
Some of the heavy hitters on the list:
- Coca Cola’s Charlotte Oades, who directs the company’s 5 by 20 initiative, which aims to support five million women entrepreneurs worldwide by 2020.
- Asenath Andrews, principal of Detroit’s Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant teens.
- Holly Gordon, whose 10x10 film and social action project follows ten girls in ten different countries where fewer than 50 percent of girls complete primary school.
- Melinda Gates, who is directing her foundation to raise $4 billion for birth control for 120 million women by 2020.
Of course, we’ve seen lists like these before. Magazines (the good ones anyway) love to celebrate people who do good in the world especially when so many of those people are glamorous (Tory Burch and Jennifer Buffett) and/or famous (Alicia Keys, Laila Ali, or America Ferrara) and/or powerful (Hillary Clinton, Maria Eitel, Pat Mitchell).
But Fast Company is doing more than just praising these movers and shakers. They’re trying to turn the notion of helping women into a movement, one that will literally save the world.
Their Twitter campaign, #imwiththeleague, is generating statements like this one by Scott Tanksley: “#ImWithTheLeague bc I want my kids’ world to be more than humanity at 50% of its heart, mind & soul capacity.”
And this one by Christine Osekoski: “#imwiththeleague its time that strong women truly come together to support each others’ initiatives to empower all women. Let’s do it!”
Let’s do it. While the women on The League’s list have connections, money, and power, they still can’t do their jobs without the rest of us. We all have to get involved. Alicia Keys, who is in The League for co-founding Keep A Child Alive, which supports HIV-affected families in five struggling countries, wrote about this in the June 20th Huffington Post: “What people often assume is that in order to make change a reality, you have to have some kind of superhuman quality and power inside of you. You don’t have to be a politician, or a scholar or a singer or a celebrity to recognize a problem and work towards fixing it by empowering others around you to take up the fight.”
Another thing that’s hit home as I’ve read about the League of Extraordinary Women, is how many of its organizations focus on educating, protecting and helping young girls. One of the most inspiring of these is The Girl Effect, founded by the Nike Foundation’s Maria Eitel.
According to the site’s homepage, the Girl Effect is “the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” This amazing infographic further illustrates how a society’s health really does begin or end with its girls. In other words, to make this world a better place for all of us, we need to get girls and women to a better place; to a place where they are safe, educated, have control over their bodies, and have equality with men in the workplace, in the boardrooms, in governments, and at home.
I believe in this. I’m with the league. How about you?
Not so long ago, if you wore a girdle, you didn’t want anybody to know it. Now girlfriends (including the Grand Girlfriend of them all, Oprah) love to dish about smoothing their muffin tops or rounding out their booties with sexy, slimming shapewear.
And it’s all because of Spanx.
Founded 12 years ago, Spanx sells (and sells and sells) not just because it works wonders on women’s bods, but also because it does it with winning sass, from the naughty name to the cute cartoons on the packaging.
And that’s all because of Spanx founder, Sara Blakely. Her force of nature personality, relentless work ethic, and most of all, true understanding of women, have made her a newly minted billionaire at age 41. She’s the youngest self-made woman on Forbes magazine’s “Rich List.”
I love Blakely’s back story. She started Spanx with $5000 of her own money. She had an idea to improve upon control top pantyhose and had to practically storm a hosiery mill to get them to make her prototype. She wrote her own patent to save legal fees. She hand-sold Spanx at a folding table at Neiman Marcus using picture of her own disappearing panty lines and stayed up all night filling her own mail orders.
Now that her company—which is debt-free and privately owned—has hit it huge, Blakely’s personality still charmingly infuses everything Spanx does, especially its savvy marketing. The company’s staff is dominated by women who put themselves out there as much as Blakely does. On the Spanx blog, “The Rear View”, for instance, staffers pose for before and after photos in Spanx nipping and tucking swimsuits.
And in a section called “Spanx-Giving,” we hear about charitable work staffers have done for organizations like the Foster Care Support Foundation’s Prom-A-Palooza.
Blakely also gives back with motivational speaking, largely aimed at women, and impulsive gifts of joy, like treating everyone in her favorite restaurant to dinner.
A cute cartoon of Blakely herself, wearing a long blond ponytail, is perched at the top of the every page on the Spanx website. It’s clear that, while her ragtag underwear company has changed immensely, Blakely has remained true to her very feminine self. And that’s the best recipe for success I can think of.
When marketing to women it’s important to understand their influence when it comes to decision-making. Today is International Women’s Day, so we’re taking time to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments women have made around the world.
2011 marked a huge step forward for women professionally. For the first time in history women hold more than 1 of 10 board seats internationally. This may sound like a small number, but it was less than a century ago that women didn’t even have the right to vote. What does this mean for marketers? Now, not only are women a powerful audience to target for purchase decisions in the home, but they are becoming a growing target as business decision-makers as well. Also, women are now in the position to overtake men in the American workforce. With statistics like these it’s only a matter of time until women hold even more of the boardroom influence.
Personally, I’m proud to work in an era that offers opportunities for women to thrive and grow in our careers. And remember, next time you're working on a new campaign or business pitch to keep the female perspective in mind, as there may be a woman sitting on the Board of Directors.
Many print publications are employing save-our-ship tactics these days. The latest is Ladies’ Home Journal. The magazine has announced that it will now buy its content from “real women” as opposed to professional journalists.
As a reader, I have plenty of questions about this move. Will the quality of the writing plummet? Or, as this Forbes article suggests, will a new generation of talented millennials (who can’t get journalism jobs to save their lives) start spinning superb prose for LHJ, giving it renewed energy? Only time will tell.
As a marketing expert, I’m more certain of my opinion about this development—I think it’s a good thing.
Savvy readers know that in women’s glossies, there’s a lot of back-scratching between the advertising and editorial departments. With “real” women writing about products like clothes, food and make-up, I think I’ll have more confidence that their opinions are genuine and independent.
“So, why would I buy a magazine to get word-of-mouth dish from a quasi-girlfriend,” you might ask, “when there are thousands of online bloggers who will give it to me for free?”
I have two answers for you.
WiFi is not available the world over. When I’m at my kids’ sports practices, in a doctor’s waiting room, or on a plane (at least during ascent and descent) I’m wireless. And to the tell the truth, sometimes I like it that way. I’m just (just, mind you) old enough to occasionally prefer my dish on paper. I don’t think I’m alone. As much as I adore the internet, I think we all need a break from it now and then.
Editors. There are some amazing bloggers out there, but they’re generally self-edited. And anybody can tell you that if you want a publication with a strong point of view and high quality control, you need professional editors. Ladies’ Home Journal has got ’em, and that gives advertisers and marketers a strong platform to work from. It also makes LHJ an intriguing new hybrid medium that just might catch on.
The new version of Ladies’ Home Journal launches in March. I certainly plan to check out this game changer. How about you?
It’s really easy to find stories about the hard knock life of professional women. There’s not enough equality in the workplace, not enough good childcare, not enough balance at home, not enough hours in the day. . . It’s the (true) stuff of many, many magazine articles.
But, this Bloomberg BusinessWeek story Behind Every Great Woman, I’m happy to say, is not one of those stories. Instead, Bloomberg Businessweek profiles a few women who’ve made it to the top of the corporate ladder without having to sacrifice their marriages, children, or sanity.
They did need help though, and they got it from their husbands. These men chose to scale back on their careers, or give them up completely, to be supportive corporate spouses, household managers, and primary caregivers to their children.
The stay-at-home husband (or partner) is far from a new phenomenon. Who among us doesn’t know a stay-at-home dad? Okay, maybe two.
But the point of the Businessweek article is: that number is about to rise as women continue their ascent in the workplace. (Unfortunately, men have lost more jobs in this poor economy than women and that’s contributing to the shift as well.)
So, what does this mean to us marketing to women experts? Our business model is shaped by the fact that women—whether they work outside the home or not—are their household’s primary decision makers, money managers, schedulers, social directors and myriad other roles responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases.
If more men start staying home while their partners work full time, this fact might change. (I sure hope it will!) And that means the way we do business at Brogan will have to change, too, just as it did when the internet took over the planet, and as it is again in the era of the smart phone and tablet.
Even though that will send me and my colleagues back to the books, you won’t hear anybody cheering more loudly than me.
Now I’m just wondering how long it’s going to take before the stay-at-home husbands graduate from being newsworthy tokens to being a force to be reckoned with (and marketed to).
What do you think? Are you seeing this shift in your community?
Hereʼs a good example of a difference between men and women: shopping. Women shop. Men retrieve.
A woman will decide she needs a pair of brown shoes to go with a suit she wants to wear to work. A man will notice his brown shoes are looking tired and he could use a new pair. Both go to the mall. The woman will go with an idea of whatʼs in the fashion magazines, what she wants to spend, what brands of shoes fit her well and feel comfortable, what stores carry shoes she likes, what stores carry shoes she can afford. The man will go to the store where he found shoes the last time he bought shoes.
When the woman gets to the first store on her mental list, sheʼll look at all the shoes, sheʼll check out sale shoes, sheʼll tell the clerk sheʼs looking for brown shoes to go with a suit—something suitable for the office and point out a few pair sheʼd like to try on.
The man will point to a couple pair of brown shoes, ask for his size and sit down. He might check out the running shoes too. Heʼll try on the shoes. Look at the shoes. Walk around a little. Maybe try on and buy athletic shoes if the salesperson is on his game. The man will pay for his shoes and leave the store.
The woman may or may not buy a pair of brown shoes she likes. But sheʼll look at more stores for more brown shoes until she finds “the perfect brown shoes”. Sheʼll know them when she sees them. She wants to see the universe of brown shoes and some viable alternatives. Sheʼs shopping. Itʼs research. It will take all day. (Sometimes into the wee hours on the internet too.) She may arrive home tired and empty handed. (although she may take advantage of serendipitous finds too right to pass up and have several new items she “needed”.) Sheʼs a shopper.
The man will get in his car, stop for a car wash, pick up some crescent wrenches at the hardware store, stop for a beer and sandwich and arrive home with new brown shoes. Heʼll flop on the couch, turn on a game, wait for dinner. Both people will be gratified by how their day went. Both will say they went “shopping”.
Weʼre experts in how women shop. Good news for clients. Women influence 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to healthcare. Affluent working women with family incomes of $75,000 or more are growing in number, and 94.3 percent access the Internet during an average month. About half are now considered heavy users of the Internet.
And yet, only 3% of the creative directors in ad agencies are women. We have two of them.
Talk to us. How women think isnʼt theory with us. Itʼs practice. Itʼs in our DNA.
Peggy, the lone female creative in Mad Men, would often still be in the minority in many ad agencies, conference rooms and judging panels.
And the lack of women creative directors is noticeable looking at Cannes-winning creative—which seems very male humor driven. And that’s funny, considering women buy more stuff we all create advertising for.
As a female creative director, I know at my old agency I would have never been promoted to creative director. I am too girly. And while I like winning awards, at the end of the day I want to a good mom and wife and need flexibility—the kind I get at my smaller agency, Brogan & Partners. In fact, most of the great creative women I’ve known in my career either quit to raise their kids, got laid off, laid under the radar as they want to be the worker bee and not the Queen Bee, or were passed over as their male bosses hired mini-me males. Unfortunately, the Good Old Boy Club still exists. And even now as I sit on an advertising council (that has some female executives on it) I am the sole female creative from an agency. Like Peggy. How times haven’t changed.
Why do you think there are not more female creative directors?
Ok, I admit it. I am mad about the new Mad Men collection of dolls by Barbie. Yearn for a Don Draper to carry around in my purse. Sadly, madly, will have to wait for JULY to buy. Much as I fear being left out by this generosity, I am sharing a secret way to be first in line: Go to AMCTV.com and sign up for a notification when they reach the market. May the best women win!
As compensation for lack of immediate gratification, I have just ordered the complete three-season set of the MM series. And just bought a ticket to the Adcraft Club of Detroit’s Mad Men party on June 15th
During the Mad Men hiatus I use cable on demand for episodes I missed or want to see again. A recent one showed a secretary being hit on and verbally swatted by a group of tipsy account guys. She walked away with personal dignity; but how did she come back day after day to face the same people and the potential of the same humiliating treatment? Remember that this TV show takes place in the early ‘60s before there were any sexual harassment laws, before there was any consciousness of the corrosive effect on women’s careers.
Not only was a woman personally degraded by sexual harassment but her career was also degraded. Who can rise in an organization, who can become a leader if she is seen as a victim, as a potential plaything instead of any type of professional?
These days things are quite different in most workplaces thanks to activists and feminists of the recent past. However for many men and for some organizations treating women fairly is not done out of a raised conscience but only because of the raised cost of violating new legal standards.
Many organizations continue to diminish women even if they keep to the letter of harassment and equal opportunity laws. Let’s look at the largest and most influential groups in the world—the Catholic Church. Women cannot take any post of meaningful leadership, as they are not able to be priests. And why is this? Certainly there is no commandment from God or proclamation by Jesus on this subject. It is simply that the men of the church do not want to share the power and the riches. And sadly there is no legal, moral or societal pressure to make them share it. Which not only keeps women out of that workplace, it fosters that attitude of women as “less than” and second class. And directly results in policies that are contrary to the best interests of so many women. Birth control except for the unreliable rhythm method is still completely prohibited for anyone for any reason. As is abortion.
Of course, Mad Men hasn’t got into ecclesiastical gender politics; but it clearly and powerfully shows the historical position of women in the corporate workplace. And it makes me feel really good about all the positive changes. And makes me a raving mad woman about all the organizations, people, attitudes that are still wallowing in the patriarchies of the past.
Yippee! On Sunday Mad Men won the Golden Globe for best dramatic TV series. It should also take the cake for its disturbing portrayal of women. Note that I am not talking about January Jones' headband.
Disturbing not because wrong, but because so right. Women were subjects for mockery, objects for ogling, and --at the very best-- professional second bananas in the 1960s workplace when series takes place.
And also in early 70s when I began my ad career. Even though the Women's Movement was starting up and even though I was working in a non-traditional ad agency. My agency was then known in town as the Jewish agency. Our execs were not invited to join the mainstream business or golf clubs. Although we did great creative work, it was primarily for retailers and not for auto clients--which in Detroit was the sign of being a real agency.
Our founder was a man of principle, of enormous talent, of great courteousness and generosity; his warmth, spirit and drive drove the culture of the workplace. Yet even with his mindset, no woman held a truly senior position at that time or ever. (Which was the cause of my starting my own agency in 1984.) And in the 70's a senior creative manager regularly harassed women -- and they were fired for non-compliance. This included my creative partner, who never even thought about confronting or reporting him--at that time, there was no such thing as a sexual harassment concept or crime. (The owner was reportedly shocked, angry and embarrassed to find out about his colleague's longstanding behavior when revealed in a lawsuit a decade later. And fired the slimeball.)
Like Mad Men, our agency had a Joan, the eyes and ears of a top executive...who amassed power over other women. Our Joan once instructed me to tell a colleague to use more deodorant and to stop wearing hotpants to work. (Hey, it was the 70s; I got my job wearing white go-go boots...) I refused Joan--and could get away with it only because I was a creative professional and not in a secretarial of administrative position.
Even though I was somewhat protected both from Joan and from any harassment by my position and by my boss--like the owner, a man of integrity and fairness--I was still a mAD WOMAN on behalf of friends who did not have the same situation.
If you are interested, I will tell you some of their stories.