Feb 07, 2022

A Plea to Women Thinking of Leaving the AD Business

In a recent 24-hour period, I asked for and received help from multiple women in the ad industry. We laughed and cried. Collaborated. Solved problems. Listened. Mentored. And profusely thanked each other:

“Appreciate you looking out and making me a better account badass!”

“I’m so thankful to work with other women who have kids and understand what I am going through.”

“Had an emergency last night and I need you to cover for me this morning for our client meeting.”

And this at bedtime from my four-year-old daughter, who simplifies my job to make sense of it:

“I want to be a commercial girl like you when I grow up.”

Then I read an Ad Age headline, “Women leaving ad industry at an alarming rate,” whose reality was in stark contrast to my feelings over the last decade in this business. I am not sharing my thoughts to be naive or insensitive to the continued struggle for women, but my perspective is uniquely optimistic.

There continue to be massive struggles for women in this industry—including racism, discrimination and sexism—which cannot be ignored. 

But if you find the right places and people, there can be many rewards, including relationships, creativity, camaraderie, growth, opportunity, influence and inspiration. Role models including Bozoma Saint JohnCindy GallopKristen Cavallo and Colleen DeCourcy have paved the way.

And the progress we have been able to make with representation is encouraging.

I look around at the powerful, inspiring, smart-as-hell women around me —colleagues, clients and friends—and cannot help but feel extremely grateful and thankful, especially during this season, to work in our industry, and with no intention of leaving it. 

For me, the good outweighs the hard. Hard can be fun. Hard we can do.

My plea to women in advertising is: Can we shift our focus from those departing the business and celebrate those who are driving evolution, flexibility opportunity—and encouraging women to join, stay and advocate for change? 

Here are four strategies for all women in the ad industry, especially those thinking of leaving:

Find your work family

There are strong opinions on whether it is healthy to have a “work family.” I believe that, like family, having women you can count on is a wonderful thing. I love that I can lean on them. I love that my coworkers know that my daughter is obsessed with mermaids. I’ve met some of my best friends at work and many of the women I know met their life partners at work. While there are concerns about not creating a noticeable divide between career, family and friendship, there can be benefits to embracing the overlap. 

Don’t settle 

During this time of great resignation, migration and reshuffle, we have choices. Choice is power. So don’t settle. Find somewhere flexible. Find people you want to work with. Find a place with women in your situation. Find leaders who get more excited about your success than their own. Find bosses who find time to teach. Find someone who gives you the floor to speak before she does. Find a manager that encourages you to take Mondays off for as long as you need while you ease into working-mom life. Find what works best for you. Find who works best for you. 

Keep some perspective

We can all get derailed by the bad. We tend to focus on frustrations. But we are very lucky. We get to spend time collaborating with creative geniuses, discussing ideas and strategies, developing influential work intended to make people laugh and cry and, hopefully, buy. We’re in an industry that’s fun and chaotic and purposeful all at the same time. Keeping this perspective doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to inequities and ignorance, it just means reminding ourselves of how lucky we are. 

Strive for harmony

After I had my child, one of my favorite clients and fellow mom, Kate Santore, director of marketing at the Coca-Cola Company, told me not to focus on finding balance but to go for harmony. Balance is making things even. Harmony is making things work together—in whatever way works for you. While the pandemic has presented many challenges for women, it’s also provided an opportunity to develop scenarios and schedules that suit them. And, if you find the right people and place, they’ll encourage you to do the same.

Let’s build up our future females and fight for this industry. Let’s drive change where needed, all while remembering and recognizing the good. Because I’d love for my daughter and your daughters, and the young women entering the industry and others considering leaving, to get the chance to love it, too.

The original article can be found here.

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