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How to Change Marketing for Women Part I

It’s the summer of #metoo, ongoing, post-Cannes dialogues about how to treat females both as marketers and consumers and how to create more respectful, inclusive workplaces. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a wide continuum of behaviors that are detrimental to women. The most severe are related to physical, verbal, sexual and emotional harassment but can also include mansplaining, gaslighting, being spoken over in meetings, having ideas stolen, being passed over for promotion, and the list goes on. What are some of the outcomes of these discussions that can actually help women on both ends of marketing? In Part 1, we address the things you can focus on in your own marketing organization and company to effect change.

1. Form a women-in-tech group: Tech is male-dominated, and women engineers and product leads can often feel alienated and even mistreated in both overt and subtle ways. Gather a group of interested women to spearhead a monthly or bi-monthly group that talks about how to be successful and overcome the challenges of gender at work. Get an executive sponsor on board, whether male or female, who can support the group and share its mission and learnings to the rest of the company. Note that this doesn’t need to be exclusive to women! Men stand to be educated about issues their female colleagues face of which they might not be aware. It’s a way to start real discussions between the sexes that can lead to real change.

2. Make women a hiring priority: It’s one thing to say you want to hire more women and another to actually do it. Are recruiters being KPIed against it? Are your recruiters attending events geared towards women in the industry? Are you actively hiring more women onto your board? Donnalyn Smith, president, North America, Momentum Worldwide, who spoke at a June 19 workshop “Marketing to Women in the #MeToo Era” in New York City, says her company ensures “our talent slate has a mix of candidates.”

3. Make career-pathing real: Many companies fail to actually outline a viable career progression for both men and women. You can do better by including worksheets, tests, quizzes and other tools to help individuals figure out where they want to go next. Offering up opportunities to shadow women in other departments or women leaders can help expose more junior female employees to other ways they can grow their career beyond what they initially envisioned. Smith of Momentum added during the #MeToo panel that her company puts programs in place centered on succession planning, that maps paths for every employee.

4. Educate and involve men: This isn’t a women’s issue to solve. Men are part of the problem and can be part of the solution—sometimes they need to be told. “We’re human first and marketers second. If you’re seeing something in your work environment that is a gray area, it probably is. We have these human instincts that tell us that they are…,” said Clark Fisher, vp-group creative director, Badger & Winters, at the panel. “It’s really about recognizing that we do have the power to be an agent of change. It can be little, but a lot of little changes equals big results.”

Tune in next week for Part II where we discuss how marketers can do a better job of marketing to women.

Photo from Creative Commons

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