Quotas and targets are good for getting women into senior marketing roles

Lucy Handley is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and has also worked in advertising agencies so can bring a unique perspective to client-agency relationships when writing on this topic.

Earlier this month, home secretary Theresa May said she wants 50% of board appointments to be made to women by 2015. So how can female marketers get higher up the career ladder?

May is working with brands like Tesco, BT and Eversheds to help close the pay gap too – at the moment, men are paid on average 10% more than women across all types of business.

This is something borne out by our salary survey earlier in the year, showing that there is even a gap in the wages of men and women in marketing from graduate level – of £1,400. (Let’s hope that next year’s survey – out on 12 Jan – shows a reduction in that gap.)

Meanwhile, Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson says that the constitution of women’s brains mean they make better marketers than men.

He says that studies show that women have a bigger corpus callosum than men, the part which divides the brain into two, allowing for communication between both bits.

This means for example, that women can link the results of qual and quant research more easily than men. The male sex ‘is more likely to use one approach or the other and therefore fails to generate superior marketing insights’, according to Ritson.                       

So, now we’ve established that women make better marketers than men, how can we get them further up the marketing tree and paid fairly for their work?

MaryLou Costa’s recent blog provided some great advice from three of the most senior women in UK business: Carolyn McCall at easyJet, Roisin Donnelly at P&G and Stevie Spring, formerly of FuturePublishing.

But along with learning to be a leader, I think there needs to be quotas and targets to make sure that business invests in and promotes women.

Luxury group LVMH has them, so does Kraft. Sixty-one per cent of the managers in the LVMH business are women and in 2009 it announced its aim of having 35% of senior roles filled by women by this year.

By senior roles, it means the chief executives of its 60 brands, plus their direct reports. And it has now reached that target. However, given that the majority of its managers are women, I’d suggest it has more to do.

At the CIM’s recent Women in Marketing awards, Daryl Fielding, Kraft’s vice president for marketing in Europe, praised her chief executive Irene Rosenfeld for rising through the marketing ranks to her current position, running the second largest food manufacturer in the world.

Rosenfeld was also crowned the top woman in world business by the FT a couple of weekends ago.

Fielding herself has her bonus docked by 5% if she does not make the targets for getting women into 25% of senior positions – something I think puts proper pressure on business people to make sure they act.

While these schemes are commendable, plenty of companies get it wrong. A recent meeting with a person in the know revealed that some City of London businesses are desperate to hire women, but for PR reasons rather than actually realising their worth.

Let’s hope the good initiatives go further to help women get to the top and make rubbish like this a thing of the past, not a forecast for the future.



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Suzanne Bearne

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