A few months ago, I read Indra Nooyi's autobiography about her time leading up to, and as, Pepsi’s (first ever female) CEO. If you ask anyone who works on my team, they were well aware I was reading it as I proceeded to quote it, reference it and share my “a-ha” moments in the weeks that followed. But my favorite takeaway, far above anything I learned about the stock market or executive planning or annual reports, was her advice for supporting women as a business leader.
Practical and realistic advice that centered on the responsibility of executives now to create professional settings and a culture that helps women thrive. Support like providing fertility benefits that enable women to prioritize their careers early and feel more comfortable putting off family planning decisions until later in life. Advice and recommendations that actually empower women to climb the ladder, change their minds and rethink what “having it all” really means.
That being said, it takes everyone’s support to make meaningful changes like these. As my colleague (and an all around amazing person), Jess Davey put it:
We absolutely appreciate the support of male allies. It cannot be done without male allies. But like I said, ally is a thing you get to earn through your choices, it is not just a word that you get to use once a year.
I just passed my fifth year at Media.Monks, and watching the company grow from 800 to 9,000+ in that time has included a number of personal career milestones for me as a woman. I’ve had the opportunity to see more women appointed to our executive team, work firsthand with emerging leaders inspired to drive initiatives that empower other women, and watched our People team evolve and implement surveys and DE&I efforts to better track and understand our progress. I’ve also built my own team, full of women who continue to push us (and me) in new (better) directions. A few of these women on my team are behind this year’s International Women’s Day, during which we’ll host a day of content, connected under the theme “Engage with Equity,” as I recently shared with The Drum.
Around the world, we’ll be taking the day to celebrate and uphold the contributions of some of the women from across S4 Capital. Our global programming includes a panel discussion with members from our Executive Leadership Team and our Global General Counsel, presented by Jess Clifton, who also supports our women year-round through her initiative “Women Connect.” We've invited everyone from the Women Connect community to submit questions and videos in advance to keep the conversation dynamic and personal—and to foster those one-to-one connections and conversations that I think set us apart.
Our event will be streamed around the world on our internal video platform, the Shift, and our local offices are putting on viewing parties and other activities to uniquely reflect the women in their communities. But as we spend the day focused on women, the hope is everyone will show up. Jordan Cuddy captured this sentiment, as she so often does, in a post on LinkedIn: “Ideally more men would show up to support the women sharing their experiences. Get comfy with being a little uncomfy. And think about how they can be more aware, more supportive. True allyship is demonstrated by taking action to support minorities, even when that action might affect one’s status, wallet, time or access. Show up for the women this month.”
As part of our IWD programming, we’ll feature speakers from across many different teams, disciplines and countries around the world for “Take 10,” a set of mini-presentations, including: Jordan Cuddy on “How to F*cking Sell,” Aisha Bean on “Leaving a Leadership Legacy,” Nimo Awill and Tash Rosehill on “The Workplace as a Safe Space,” Luciana Haguiara on “10 Tips to Be a Great Creative Leader” and Jess Davey on “Being a Woman is a Superpower.”
One of the best parts of my job is acting as an editor for all the stories our team produces every day just like these. We get to amplify the most exciting bits and on days like today, and then take a moment to reflect on all we’ve achieved—as a team, and collectively as a company. My colleague Charlotte Mceleny reinforced the importance of these efforts at New Digital Age:
What I am proud of is getting personal stories out into the industry that I think could inspire people for good. We can all talk a big game on diversity but it’s up to industry comms and marketing people to make sure we’re pushing this out as a priority.
So for today, here’s to the women at Media.Monks making headlines, setting new paths… and owning it… right now. With that I’ll leave you with one more (...much more punchy) line from Jess: “If women could fix this sh*t on their own, we would have already. It has to be a partnership in continuing to drive transformation and change.”
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