“What’s important is our work, not our gender,” says Jack Morton EVP Greater China, Natalie Ackerman.
Having spoken at and participated at many women’s empowerment and women’s leadership events in Hong Kong over the last few years, I’ve heard many stories. Women who have been passed up for promotion, who feel their careers have been impacted by taking maternity leave and taking time to look after their children, women who come to me for advice about juggling a career and a family.
Personally, I recall being in a pitch with a team of amazing and powerful female leaders after weeks of hard work and preparation and the very first words that came from the client were “Do you have any men on your team?”
We were slightly taken aback – of course we did have men on the team but the leads were women and they were the ones who we chose to be in the room. And I stand by our choice! But moments like these are ones I look back on and appreciate how far we’ve come in a once-male-dominated industry. In the end, we wowed them with our presentation and creative and won the work with their organisation. What’s important here is our work and not our gender.
Thanks to cultural transformation, women today have become a key driving force in experiential marketing. We see increasingly more female professionals entering the industry and a significant growth in female leaders taking on ‘head of events’ positions in both brands and agencies.
Despite the tremendous growth, events continue to be a difficult career for many women who have children at home. The industry requires long and irregular hours and is extremely stressful. In fact, event professionals are amongst the top 10 more stressful jobs in the world, right next to being a firefighter and an airline pilot.
Some women still experience negative bias from employers for being working mothers, and face familial pressure to take up the majority of childcare, eldercare and household duties.
At Jack Morton, we are absolutely committed to moving the needle and we are moving in the right direction. And it all starts with communication.
We’ve established I Am JACK, a team of more than 70 Jack Morton colleagues from around the world, and the global Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council, educating our colleagues on what gender equality is and the impact it has on the organisation and our personal lives.
We’ve invited experts to speak about women’s and men’s roles in gender equality, supported International Women’s Day with internal campaigns and attended leadership team training on the matter.
And the results? We are seeing some great movement with more female creatives. In Greater China, 66 per cent of our senior leaders are female. We also saw an increase in women in senior leadership roles across the organisation globally.
Gender diversity efforts are never enough. Achieving gender diversity is an ongoing journey and a long one. To us, promoting gender equality means valuing women and men equally and ensuring the rights of women and men to access to the same opportunities within the organization. To do this, we need to involve men in the conversation and tackle common misconceptions of gender equality.
On the other hand, we need to constantly ask ourselves, what are we doing to encourage women in the workplace and are we providing a safe and supportive environment for female event professionals?
Let’s work together to drive momentum and progress gender equality in 2019!