Thought Leadership

“Decide what you stand for and then stand for it all the time.”

Learning from the Women in Marketing community everyday, not just on International Women’s Day

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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“Decide what you stand for and then stand for it all the time.” The words of Clayton M Christensen, one of the world’s leading thinkers of innovation, feel particularly apt on International Women’s Day. As Christensen writes: “It's easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time. The boundary - your own personal moral line - is powerful, because you don't cross it; if you have justified doing it once, there's nothing to stop you doing it again.”

Ade Onilude, Founder and CEO of Women in Marketing is a leader who embodies that principle. Spearheading the Women in Marketing community which elevates and champions women across the industry 365 days a year.

If you are seeking to recruit and equally important retain female talent, factor in the cycle of their lives; this includes motherhood to the menopause. Increasingly, talent will be judging what companies do in these areas and in health and wellness.

Ade Onilude, Founder and CEO of Women in Marketing

So, what does being a champion mean to Onilude and how can companies ensure they are elevating female talent every day, not just on IWD?

“For me being a champion includes being an example, being authentic, being value-led, supporting others, being consistent, and being humble, but also knowing your worth,” she explains. Considering the late Sir Sidney Poitier as an influential role model she points to his ethos, summed up by his quote “I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values”.

The role of companies has changed in the past two years, explains Onilude, a shift which she believes means they need to “embrace empathy in all decision making.” Pointing to the growing challenge of recruitment and retention she believes now is the time to look meaningfully at company cultures. She explains: “Have structures, policies and behaviours within your company that incorporates actively listening, flexibility, and adaptability.”

When it comes to attracting and retaining female talent in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis which has had a devastating impact on women’s careers, Onilude shares practical advice.  “If you are seeking to recruit and equally important retain female talent, factor in the cycle of their lives; this includes motherhood to the menopause. Increasingly, talent will be judging what companies do in these areas and in health and wellness,” she explains. 

She also points to the need to focus on elevating the brilliant female talent in the industry. As she explains: “Celebrate and recognise those who are delivering daily and have a promotion process in place.” 

Make time for ‘me time’ to give you the headspace to support others, whatever level you are at in your career. Give some time to evaluate where you are now and where you want to go in the future.

Ade Onilude, Founder and CEO of Women in Marketing

It's ok to not be ok

With a myriad of data points underlining the fact that women in the workplace are disproportionately burnt out, Onilude shares practical advice for building back better in the wake of the pandemic.

“Have a support network personal and professional and an inner circle of friends who are not associated with work so you can switch off and truly be your authentic self worts and all - they will give you an external perspective,” she says. 

Notably, Onilude underlines that after a tough couple of years it is important to recognise; “it’s ok to not be ok, you are only human.”

“Make time for ‘me time’ to give you the headspace to support others, whatever level you are at in your career. Give some time to evaluate where you are now and where you want to go in the future,” she explains. 

“To those in leadership roles, I would highly recommend a professional accredited coach. It's one of the reasons we incorporated the award-winning Abigail Dixon's The Whole Marketer Coaching sessions as a prize for the 2021 WIM award winners as it was created to support the challenges marketing leaders are going through in the current landscape which is totally different to 2019,” Onilude adds.  

With this ethos of continual learning in mind, to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and support its theme of #BreakTheBias, here are some of the best bits of advice from our ongoing interview series, in partnership with Women in Marketing:

Always open the door behind you, for those women coming next.

Claire Gillis, CEO International, WPP Health Practice

In a wide-ranging interview spanning why digital transformation must be focused on deeds not words, to opening the door to the next generation of talent, Claire Gillis leads through actions, supporting women in the workplace.

She explains: “Always open the door behind you, for those women coming next. For me, the key to building your career is pacing yourself and speaking up. There are always people in your network who can give you an objective sounding board and that is so important.” 

Read the full interview here.

Accepting change can be hard.

Sara Tate, Award winning CEO, co-host of The Rebuilders Podcast and Leadership Consultant and Coach

Choosing change has been top of the business agenda in the wake of a pandemic that has caused a wholesale reassessment of both our personal and professional lives. For Sara Tate, building back better requires experimentation, an open mind, empathy and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

This need for uncomfortable conversations can also extend to choosing change in how, when, where and how much you work. As Tate explains: “I think the most challenging moments for me have been being in an environment which didn’t suit me. I really had to accept that I needed to work in a different way when I had kids and accept that it was my ego that just wanted to carry on as normal. Accepting change can be hard, it doesn't have to be about having kids, but that moment for me was about recognising that I wanted to work four days.”

Read the full interview here.

Take the time to really listen to each other

Martina Lacey, Head of New Business and Marketing, iCrossing UK

The new era of flexible working and the myth of digital transformation were high on the agenda for Lacey who, in a straight-talking interview, lifted the lid on the challenges facing the industry when it comes to embracing diversity and inclusion all year round. 

She explained: “The industry is amazing at branding up the diversity and inclusion initiatives they do and packaging up their strategies, but the second you get under the surface there is nothing there. There is meaningful change that is yet to be done.”

Lacey continues: “Often when it comes to diversity and inclusion things come in cycles. There was a big push around women in the workplace a couple of years ago but things aren’t solved yet, we don’t have equality yet. It is only now that people are getting used to terms such as ‘microaggressions’ and it is really important to continue to elevate and celebrate marginalised groups.”

Read the full interview here.

Don’t do one thing 100% better, do 100 things 1% better.

Kate Nightingale, Head Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology

The power of marginal gains was top of the agenda for Kate Nightingale, the Head Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology. Nightingale pointed to the power of the theory of marginal gains, as shared by James Kerr in his book Legacy; “Don’t do one thing 100% better, do 100 things 1% better.” 

In the wake of a pandemic that demands that people learn to live in a state of almost constant uncertainty, that marginal gain is often to be found in regaining a sense of control in the little things. As Nightingale explains: “That desire for control was evident before the pandemic; everything from personalisation to co-creation is a manifestation of that desire to control.”

Read the full interview here.

Everyone is seeing things from a new lens this year.

Lisa Lugo, Vice President of Marketing Solutions, Live Nation UK

The role of perspective, connection, service and celebration in the wake of the crisis was brought to life with eloquence and empathy of Lisa Lugo, Vice President of Marketing Solutions at Live Nation UK. 

As Lugo explained: “Everyone is seeing things from a new lens this year. I sure am. I lost my Dad last year. He was my number one fan - I am me because of him. I’m still learning how to mourn and how to be transparent about it.”

Read the full interview here.

If you can do two things professionally; be useful and be kind.

Louise Barber, Global Vice President of Marketing at DHL Supply Chain UK

Straight talking, effective and impactful, Louise Barber, Global Vice President of Marketing at DHL Supply Chain UK’s Women In Marketing interview was a masterclass in the importance of trust in a crisis.

Barber also shared important advice on how to navigate change. She explained: “I’ve been through my fair share of marketing transformations and they are tough. It's a fact of business life that marketing teams often contract and expand over time. I take the advice of Barack Obama: if you can do two things professionally, be useful and be kind then you will be alright. I have been through redundancy and I know you can do it in a way that is kind and helps people move forward.”

Read the full interview here. 

Things won’t go backwards.

Alicia Skubick, Marketing Director, Intuit Quickbooks

In the height of the Coronavirus crisis, Skubick led with openness and transparency, championing radical change and above all, listening to consumers first.

“The number one thing is diversity,” explains Skubick, “firstly within our talent and our teams, but also the representation within our advertising. We feel we have a deep responsibility to be a force for good.” Secondly, she is focused on ensuring that the brand is integrated end-to-end to ensure a seamless product experience. 

“The most important thing is to keep motivated as people,” she adds. She points to the example and inspiration set by her father, a doctor in the US, who has continued to help patients virtually throughout the pandemic: “We have seen such a radical transformation over this time; things won’t go backwards.”

To read the full interview click here

I’ve always been driven by moving culture forward.

Tammy Smulders, President, Wednesday

In the climate crisis world, Tammy Smulders, President at Wednesday shared how luxury brands are redefining the value of craft and sustainability. A powerful reminder of the need for expert advice in the midst of the crisis.

“I’ve always been driven by moving culture forward and doing things differently,” explained Smulders. 

The midst of the climate crisis is a pivotal era for luxury brands as the products and behaviours from which consumers derive status continue to shift. According to Smulders, the “feel-good factor” in shopping is changing. She explains, “consumers are becoming more pointed about the choices that they are making and making that choice about products standing for the right thing.” This shift, Smulders believes, is a particular focus of younger Millennials and Generation Z shoppers.

To read the full interview click here. 


Creativebrief is proud to be a media partner to the Global Women in Marketing Awards. Congratulations to the 2021 winners. For the full list of winners please click here.