You know the feeling when you leave the cinema after you’ve watched a great movie? The feeling after screaming your lungs out at a concert of your favourite artist? The feeling of “I’m so happy I chose to do this for myself, well done me”? I had the same feeling after the WACL Gathering Scotland event last Thursday at the Signet Library.
WACL stands for Women in Advertising and Communications in London. It was founded in 1923 by…men. It’s an industry networking organisation that brings together the most senior female leaders in marketing and communications. Members are drawn from brands, media owners, advertising and media agencies, and other industry businesses, and its purpose is to accelerate gender equality in communications and marketing. It is not a secret that women in the media industry are losing out to men on pay, and female representation on business boards is far from equal. WACL provides inspiration to aspiring female talent via Gather, their annual conference which for the first time came to Scotland. And we were there!
After an intro from Juliet Simpson, founder and chief executive of Stripe Communications and chair of WACL Gather Scotland, we were already getting the feeling that it would be a great night. Within the walls of Signet Library, 200 female future leaders were about to hear inspiring speeches. Honest, angry, funny, emotional stories that you could relate to one way or another and cannot surely summarise in a single blog post.
Pippa Glucklich the CEO of Amplifi UK, the investment platform of Dentsu Aegis Network, and former president of WACL, spoke about how she always felt that she wasn’t good enough. It’s reassuring when a Chief Executive tells you that, and you realise you’re not alone.
The CEO of Stylist, Ella Dolphin, spoke about how printed media were sexually portraying women and how much this image has changed in the last few years. The sad fact is that 30% of women don’t see their body type in media and 30% of women don’t feel like they are represented in any way. The funniest moment was when she showed us the video Stylist created, correcting Daily Mail’s sexist titles. Who can forget the Legsit cover? Click here to enjoy.
She was followed by Talat Yaqoob, the director of Equate Scotland, an organisation established to promote and encourage the advancement of women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment. She spoke to us about the “fights” she had to pick, the sad statistics and the fun facts. Did you know that up until 2011, all car crash test dummies used were based on male body types? Do you remember back in 2014, when Apple launched the new heath app “Healthkit” promising amazing features, from tracking blood alcohol content to how often you use an inhaler? Remember what they missed? One of the most basic metrics of human existence. Don’t be afraid to say it. Periods! Definitely one of the highlights of the night was when 200 women screamed “PERIODS” from the top of their lungs.
More eye-opening speeches followed; Joanna Lord, Chief Marketing Officer at Skyscanner spoke about sacrifices and confidence, how women need to talk about what they’re good at. Brag and feel proud. Shona Stilton, Global Partner at Facebook said how important it is to have your own “board of directors”,people that you value their opinion and can always go for advice and support. She was followed by Lyndsey Menzies, CEO & Founder 8 Million Stories, who correctly pointed out the importance of pace and how sometimes we need to slow down, take a step back and focus on ourselves.
So how did this event affect us? It wasn’t only about the facts or the speeches. It was about that feeling. The feeling of being strong, confident, eager to make a positive change. The passion is there, the tools are there, let’s do this! Here at Tanami we do have a nice mix of 50% women and 50% men in a variety of roles and we embrace the moves made in the industry to ‘Free the bid’ but hey, no one claims we cannot do better. There are some amazing women out there and we want to hear from them! As Juliet Simpson said, “If you don’t have the confidence to put yourself forward as a woman, nothing will change!”
PS: The only man in the room was the cameraman, I was glancing at him; he was nodding, laughing, looking surprised, I think he enjoyed it. I’m wondering if he felt slightly changed by the evening too.