Lisa Thomas, Chief Brand Officer at Virgin, has warned that women are leaving the industry because their careers aren’t progressing. Speaking at a Bloom event, which consisted of a panel and workshop on how to bounce back from failure, held at Facebook’s London headquarters last month, Thomas explained, “It is really difficult because women feel they need to leave because they are not progressing. It tends to be in the middle of their career. They might be thinking about having a child, or have started a family.”
Commenting on data from Creative Equals which shows that 12% of women in the creative industries plan to leave in the next two years, Thomas noted that by and large, the client side of the business is better. However, she noted that the industry as a whole is “not geared to a sales structure that accommodates more flexible working.”
Thomas noted that this historic inflexibility is being challenged: “There are people like us who are out there pioneering for that change and seeking that change. I also say go for it and try.” She pointed to the example of Sara Tate, the CEO of TBWA who works four days a week.
Virgin’s Thomas urged leaders to “front-up” and be honest about how failure is communicated across a business, explaining, “If you try to put a veneer on it, it won’t be reassuring for your team or organisation.” She noted that on the whole, client organisations such as Virgin are both very respectful of their internal cultures and their people. “When addressing failure, having respect for how people feel is important,” she added.