Womenwill Leadership Workshop: Key Takeaways And Insights

As a relatively new member of the team (I’ve only been a Brand & Content Manager at Yes Digital for 3 months), I was amazed and grateful to be given the amazing opportunity to be among the select few to attend Google’s Womenwill Leadership Workshop in Sydney. This day-long workshop is organised for Google Partners, and is designed to address gender disparity faced by women in their work and business. It is meant to inspire the women leaders of tomorrow and provide them with the tools to success – and oh wow, did it deliver! 

The Womenwill event looked at various topics that affect women leadership, and things that stop us from becoming fully empowered to get where we wish to. While I don’t think I can do the event enough justice by outlining my takeaways from it, I’m definitely going to try! 

 

Where are we today on the issue of gender disparity and the pay gap?

In the first part of the Womenwill workshop, we were introduced to the topic of gender disparity with some stark facts. Whether it was that the pay gap grew with age, education level, or number of children, or that only 19% of women made it to C-level executive positions, we talked about the disparity and how far we still had to go to bridge the gap.

When it comes to the wage gap between women and men, this is improving but there’s still a way to go. Currently, the OECD average shows that around the globe, women earn 85% of what men do, with a prediction for equalisation forecast in 2078. In Australia, the gender pay gap sits at 14%, 0.6% lower than last year (in terms of average weekly ordinary time earnings). However, in the last two decades, it has consistently been in the 14 to 19% range.

Another issue that was addressed during this discussion was the perception of equal pay within the media, advertising and creative industry. Only 23% of women in the industry think their pay is equal to that of their male peers. On the other hand, a whopping 88% of men in the industry think their pay is equal to that of their female peers. Considering that a majority of current leadership roles are held by men, changing this perception is key to affecting the change we wish to see. 

Speaking of the gender disparity in leadership positions, it is not due to the lack of female workers in junior roles – in fact, 55% of junior roles are taken by women. However, it surprised me to know that only 15% of board roles in digital agencies were taken up by women. A lot of this does boil down to self-doubt as well, which leads to little to no negotiation from women – whether it is for pay, or regarding a task or responsibility outside the purview of their roles.

Key takeaways and actionable insights:

  • Start by negotiating – try to negotiate every time you are in a situation you are not 100% satisfied with, before you walk away. 
  • It’s okay to set boundaries – Women are wired to say ‘yes’ a lot; it is okay to say ‘yes, but…’ instead, using it to explain what responsibilities or tasks will be impacted.
  • Remember BATNA – best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Ideally before any negotiation, contemplate, explore, and list all the alternatives available to you if the negotiation failed. Evaluate these options – consider and weigh the value of each to you. Pick the best of those options to be your BATNA.

Unconscious bias in the workplace

Before the session, everyone was asked to complete the Harvard University Implicit Association Test (IAT) to identify our unconscious biases – specific to associating a female with family and a male with career. If you want to take the test yourself, click the link above and it’s the Gender-Career IAT test. 

Discussing the unconscious bias that existed in general and agencies in particular was eye-opening. Coming from an immigrant background and being a woman, it was interesting to learn about how these biases affected the agency context in Australia. 

Quite a few biases are rooted in gender, such as underestimating what a woman is capable of (performance attribution) as opposed to a man, blaming them more than giving them credit (performance evaluation), seeing mothers as less committed to their careers (maternal), or even expecting women to be less assertive and penalising for being too much so (likeability). 

 

Key takeaways and actionable insights:

  • Make sure you have a diverse group of hiring managers who use the power of logic and reasoning when making a hire.
  • Anonymise CVs and use blind evaluation processes where possible.
  • Talk about it – if it is unconscious, you need to bring it to the attention of the powers that be!

Own your greatness (and your personal brand)

In the last part of the day, we talked about the importance of working on ourselves and developing our personal brands. Promoting yourself is key to attracting the attention of a sponsor, but only 42% of women feel comfortable doing it. Why does having a mentor or sponsor matter for women though? Studies have shown that women with sponsors are 25% more likely to ask for a raise, and good sponsors introduce you to valuable network connections.

When talking about our personal brands, interesting insights were uncovered. Establishing and growing a strong personal brand is key in helping us achieve our career goals. This personal brand is made up of three different factors; performance, image and exposure. Interestingly, many of us assumed performance is the most important factor in success – surprisingly 60% of the importance was to exposure, with only 10% focused on performance.

 

Key takeaways and actionable insights:

  • The higher you go in your career, the more performance becomes an entry level criteria and image becomes more crucial. And on top of that, exposure is even more important – hence the importance of networking.
  • Practice verbal amd non-verbal communication skills.

If you are a woman in her early digital career (or any time, really) reading this, I encourage you to jump on the opportunity to attend this event should it present itself – you will not regret it. It was incredible to connect with a group of like-minded women and share our experiences to grow towards a greater good.

Remember, the future is woman!