For women, building strong industry and personal partnerships is a powerful way to build influence and develop professionally. Networks provide cross-pollination of viewpoints and ideas, bring down silos and provide needed exposure for and to underrepresented groups and perspectives. Inside an organization, strong networks make it possible to work collaboratively across different offices, time zones and processes.
Our industry is built on innovation—from the first ecommerce sites to programmatic buying to today’s emerging ad-tech solutions. Mentoring, networking and, most importantly, risk-taking have always been vital to driving technological breakthroughs and industry growth.
There is abundant data demonstrating that a more representative array of backgrounds and demographics participating in a business contributes to the financial health of organizations, industries and entire economies. In a 2017 report on Women in the Economy complete by Citi’s Global Perspectives and Solutions group, researchers estimated that if countries raised labor force participation and average hours worked by women to parity with men, GDP could increase by 20 percent, and the GDP generated by women could increase by as much as 50 percent.
The study also suggested that many policies that have a meaningful effect on gender equality are also conducive to better labor outcomes generally. Increased educational attainment for women accounts for 50 percent of the economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years, over half of which is due to girls simply having access to higher levels of education.
This fundamental business case is at the core of why WiQ was created. Our strategy focuses on gender as we work to raise awareness of and promote gender equality and the need for more female representation within ad tech and media. This requires that we ask not only what women can do to join the leadership ranks in our industry, but also how we can all lead in a way that sparks and inspires positive change and industry growth.
Diversity initiatives aren’t just about fairness, they’re also about financial performance.
Economic empowerment for women leads to better financial performance. And in developed economies like ours, that means bringing more women—and diversity in general—into leadership.
Mentorship has always been crucial to this process. Diverse mentors and role models are vital to shepherding in a new generation of female and gender-inclusive leaders, as is actively raising the profiles of talented colleagues. Indeed, the best mentors represent more than just an example to learn from but also a relationship that’s honest, open and unlocks awareness of personal potential. Good mentors inspire others to hit the ground running, both professionally and personally, and to know they have support on the journey.
Finally, everyone in our industry needs to be willing to take risks if we’re going to see positive change. That means women need to get out of their comfort zones and managers must be willing to hire outside the box. Opportunities are not created by following a well-worn path. Willingness to take risks is a quality most good leaders have in abundance, but many women are reluctant to be assertive. Women continue to fear that they will be perceived as too edgy, harsh or inadequate when they position themselves front and center. The best way to combat this issue is to become associated with focused, successful and outspoken women. Learning from those who have obliterated self-doubt is the best start to achieving your own confident stride and powerful voice.
Now, we must apply those same tools to drive the cultural innovation that will ensure the health of the ad tech economy going forward.