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International Women's Day Equity Inclusion

Tackling gender bias: what's working and what still needs to change?

IAB UK

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March 8, 2023 | 6 min read

This International Women’s Day, we’re delving beyond workplace policies to share personal points of view and experiences from IAB members

The aim? To highlight the people and initiatives making a tangible difference to the careers and experiences of women in this industry. From amping up self-advocacy to shattering the silence about menopause, read on for more insight from our members including Annalect UK, Blis, Google, MiQ, PubMatic and Yahoo.

What’s the single most important thing to positively impact your career when it comes to tackling gender-based bias?

Amy Fox, VP of product, Blis: Without a shadow of a doubt, my husband, Chris, and his approach to shared parenting has had the biggest impact on my career when it comes to tackling gender-based bias. Choosing to have children whilst navigating an ambitious career path was always something that weighed heavily on my mind, as I worried that, at some point, I would face a 'one or the other’ decision. From day one of being parents, he has been an absolute equal to me regarding childcare; we split the night feeds, the nappies, the household chores and, most importantly, the parental leave 50/50. I know that this has enabled us both to come back to work full-time and keep our foot on the accelerator for both of our careers, rather than me having to sacrifice mine.

Ally Tyger-Doyle, diversity, equity & inclusion lead, EMEA, MiQ: 100% opening a dialogue with other genders to understand the challenges all women face. Leading Bloom UK's The Exchange in 2021, where Bloom women are matched with other genders in co-mentoring pairs, they have intersectional conversations around the gender divide. It's been amazing to be part of a movement inspiring industry-wide every day and seismic individual and collective action. We know this is having a positive impact on women's careers. The Exchange boosted my career (and beyond), has influenced how I approach my work today, and I feel seen as a Black woman in the networks and champions I've gained as a result.

Marie Clayton, managing director, Annalect UK: At OMG UK, I’m fortunate to work with a number of inspiring female leaders in senior roles, although this wasn’t always the case in my career. There was a CEO who summarized me in a pitch as ‘the woman who gets things done’ and then marveled in the meeting how as a mother of three kids I was one of the busiest people in the team, managing our biggest account. If the same had been said about a male colleague, eyebrows would’ve been raised. Women in leadership roles have to consistently reset professional identities because of judgments made about personal identities. As a mother of three daughters, I’m passionate about ensuring they don’t have to battle against the same bias by the time they hit the workplace.

Anita Caras, research director & global co-chair for the Womens' Inclusion Network, Yahoo: One word springs to mind: allyship. I believe it's up to all of us to find opportunities to support and lift others in our careers; based on my own experience, actively seeking out and supporting women in the workplace, by advocating for their ideas, offering mentorship, or being a listening ear really counts. Early in my career, having a supportive female boss provided me with opportunities to present my work directly to customers and instilled confidence in my abilities. I try to lead by example as by being an ally to others, we can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.

What would you change today if you could?

Nada Faridane, head of revenue solutions, global partnerships - UK, Google: One thing I would change would be for women and underrepresented groups to gain both the confidence and competence to tell the story of their accomplishments - in the workplace and beyond. This is critical to career growth and progression. There are various roadblocks to engaging in self advocacy: gender modesty norms, fear of being perceived as arrogant, language/accent barrier, unconscious biases around race, age, identity-based stereotypes, and the belief that working hard is enough and accomplishments speak for themselves. They don’t.

Self-advocacy is a skill that can be developed with practice and a thorough understanding that if we don’t engage in self-promotion, we will fall behind many peers who do. A variety of factors lead to the lack of representativity of women, black people and other groups in leadership positions. This is one variable we can all control for ourselves and empower others to do so.

Emma Newman, CRO, EMEA, PubMatic: As a woman in her fifties, I want to see more support for women as they experience peri-menopause and menopause. A little progress has been made at individual company level but until we have regulatory change (ministers have just rejected a proposal from MPs to introduce ‘menopause leave’ pilots in England as it could be ‘counterproductive’) the seismic shift we need to level the playing field simply won’t happen.

Jessie Sampson, communications manager, IAB UK: The UK needs a functioning childcare system that is affordable. So many women are leaving the workforce because it makes no financial sense to continue working in the face of huge and rapidly rising childcare costs. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving up your job to look after your kids, but it should be a positive choice and not because you can't afford to do otherwise. The numbers say it all - three in four mothers say it no longer makes financial sense to continue working, and the amount of women leaving work to look after family has risen by 5% in the past year. This isn't just women’s problem and, until we work out how to fix our overstretched and unaffordable childcare system, we’re all the poorer for it, because women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond have so much to offer businesses.

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