The need to ’embrace equity’ was the theme of 2023’s International Women’s Day (IWD). Equal opportunities are not enough to ensure true fairness because women “start from different places”. True inclusion according to the IWD site, “requires equitable action”.
In the week of IWD, five female senior marketers, who have been named as customer experience leaders over the five years Marketing Week has been publishing the the CX50 list, curated in partnership with Zone and Cognizant Digital Experience, spoke about what this year’s theme means to them, how the industry can do more to champion women, and the women who inspire them.
For GiffGaff CMO and CX50 member Sophie Wheater, embracing equity means recognising one size does not fit all.
“I genuinely believe there is a super-power in us all,” she says, adding that advocating for equity means giving space for those individual attributes to be seen and developed in a way that recognises people’s differences.
Lis Blair, CMO of MoneySuperMarket, says equity means recognising everyone should expect and have an equal voice.
“Embracing equity beautifully encapsulates the opportunity for us all, and the challenge for some,” Blair says.
Starling Bank’s brand and marketing director Rachel Kerrone flags the work of her employer in “levelling the playing field”, and says it is something she personally values.
“The more we promote the importance of equality, the more we can stop unconscious bias and inequality in its tracks,” Kerrone states.
While IWD and the month of March, which is Women’s History Month, always sees a lot of discussion about gender equality, the members of the CX50 interviewed believe more practical change is needed.
NatWest Group CMO and Marketing Week’s marketer of the year Margaret Jobling says the industry must “create the conditions for women to thrive through structural changes such as policies around things like flexible working, career development pathing, mentoring and sponsorship programmes.”
GiffGaff’s Wheater is another strong advocate for flexible working, job shares and part-time roles. She herself works four days a week, while one of the most senior roles in her team at GiffGaff is a job share.
“The talent that sits in the millions of mums who would love to be working but can’t balance it with their number one priority, their kids, is phenomenal,” she says.
Forging a path for other women
All of the marketers on the CX50 list have been recognised for their skill, capacity and leadership; despite the achievements they have made in their careers, the female marketers on the list have not been immune to self-doubt, particularly at the beginning of their careers.
“I would really encourage my younger self to speak up more,” says Tide senior vice-president of member engagement marketing Heather Cobb. “I’m so impressed with the amazing ideas and contributions from the younger women in my current team, and if I were starting out now, I’d aim to emulate them.”
GiffGaff’s Wheater echoes the admiration of young people at her organisation who are “nailing it” in terms of intentionality about the direction of their careers.
“I always worked really hard but I wasn’t as intentional about my direction as I could have been… Imposter syndrome is never far from my door and I’m pretty sure a more intentional path to here would have helped to allay that,” she says.
Jobling says it is imperative more senior women act as role models, stating the women who inspire her the most are those “who succeed despite the odds, remain true to who they are and then turn around and give the women behind them a leg up”.
“History is full of great examples of women who’ve proven themselves and in so doing, created an easier path for women coming after them,” says MoneySuperMarket’s Blair.