Advertising Week took place last week in NYC. Now in its 12th year, the week-long conference includes more than 290 events, 95,000 attendees and 900 speakers. Some of the featured speakers from this year’s conference were Facebook’s CEO Sheryl Sandberg, Buzzfeed’s Chief Marketing Officer Frank Cooper, Skinnygirl Founder and CEO (and our favorite Housewife) Bethany Frankel, and Orange is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba.
As a woman-owned business, one of the panels we most related to at 24 Seven was, “The Glass Ladder: Women as Creative Leaders.” Moderated by Sheelah Kohlhatkar, features editor and national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, the panel consisted of strong female leaders across a range of industries:
Beth Newell- Creator of Reductress, Editor and Comedy Writer
Nancy Hill- President and CEO of 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies)
Camille Hackney-Executive Vice President of Brand Partnerships and Licensing/Head of Global Brand Council at Atlantic Records, Warner Music
Mindy Goldberg- Creator and Owner of Epoch Films
Tricia Clark- CoFounder and CEO of Narrative
Leslie Simme- Chief Creative Officer of Young and Rubicam
In this panel, one of the major topics discussed was why the idea of a woman leader in business is still such an issue. With the rise of strong female leaders in content production such as Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Shonda Rhimes, it would seem natural that this trend of female empowerment would translate behind the scenes. However, the panelists agreed that this is still something we are working toward as a country. Of the fight for more female leaders Nancy Hill remarked “Women have to attack this issue from all fronts, but there is momentum gaining.” And that momentum was clear based on the empowered audience of both men and women.
On the subject of finding balance as a female leader, Camille Hackney opened up about her personal experience stating that, “The women I’ve worked with have always relied on strong partners at home helping with the domestic aspects of life. Most successful women can’t be tasked with everything at home and maintain a high power position unless they have a supportive partner. There needs to be a true partnership both in their career and their home life.” Hackney’s comment raised the question, is it important to broaden the definition of what it means to be a man? If society starts to encourage all different types of men from the CEO to the stay at home Dad, is it possible that this will spur change and add to the acceptance of female leaders? Hackney furthered this point, suggesting that it is important that we promote confident and capable men in the domestic sphere as well as in business. As young girls we are always told we can do anything and be whatever we want. However is it possible that young boys need to be told that too? Does the rise of female leadership ultimately encourage a discussion beyond acceptance of a strong woman, to one about the acceptance of a domestic man?
The last section of the panel opened with Kohlhatkar asking how being a woman has helped these leaders get to where they are today. There was general agreement among the 6 panelists that because business is still largely male dominated; there are voids to fill in women’s media. The takeaway being that a potential disadvantage can actually lead to opportunity.
The panel concluded with advice for women today: there will always be a trade off, home versus career, so it is important to decide early on what’s important to you and what will make you happiest. “It’s all about balance,” Tricia Clarke remarked, “finding the sweet spot between passion and skill set will give you some guard rails and a road map to your career.”
And the final word of the day? Nancy Hill advised young women just starting their career to “never be afraid to step up.”
To watch the panel see http://www.advertisingweek.com/replay/#date=2015-09-28~video-id=69~venue=5