Women in the Workplace

Episode 12 September 27, 2022 00:25:03
Women in the Workplace
The Loop Marketing Podcast
Women in the Workplace

Sep 27 2022 | 00:25:03


Hosted By

Elise Stieferman

Show Notes

As a society, we've come a long way in terms of equality for women. However, being a woman in the workplace is still a challenge. To this day, for every 100 men promoted to a managerial position, only 86 women are promoted. 

Why does this imbalance still exist and how can we take action to support our female-identifying colleagues? 


Covered in this episode: 

  1. Cultural cues and organizational policies to look for as a woman

  2. How to set clear boundaries and expectations for work-life balance as a working mom

  3. Ways to support your female colleagues

  4. The importance of a family-first workplace culture 

  5. How organizations need to adjust to form more representative leadership teams


In this candid conversation, two of Coegi's female senior leaders join the podcast to share their insights and tips on how to make more accommodating workplace cultures for women. 


VP of Account Strategy, Shana Raines, shares her experience as an executive, woman of color and mom of three. 


Programmatic Operations Manager, Hannah Huedepohl, discusses how her perspective changed coming from a male-dominated business school to a gender-balanced agency. 



0:00-0:28 Intro

0:29 3:31- Agencies - a man's world? 

3:32-4:19  Putting family first 

4:20-5:44  Shattering female stereotypes  

5:45-10:21  Avoiding burnout and guilt 

10:22-13:17  Ways to empower women

13:18-16:52  Representation in leadership matters 

16:53-20:03  Being a WOC in leadership 

20:04-24:30 Organizational policies to empower women 

24:31-25:04 Outro 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Elise: Hello and welcome to The Loop marketing podcast. I'm your host Elise Stieferman, Director of Marketing at Coegi. Let's get started. All right, so today we are talking about women in the workplace and I've got two of my favorite ladies here. We’ve got Hannah, who's our Operations Manager and Shana, who's our VP of Account Strategies. So thanks for joining today! So thinking about women in the workplace, especially in terms of media agencies or creative agencies, I know that a lot of people still think of it as being a man's world back to the Mad Men era and all of that. So, as we're thinking about the modern agency and your experience at Coegi, what are some challenges that you've experienced over the years, in terms of being a female identifying employee or a female employee in the workplace. In particular, thinking about the agency world, have there been any experiences that you found to be particularly challenging as a female? So Shana, do you wanna kick us off? Shana: So I would say it definitely does still feel like a man's world agency overall. I think at Coegi we're incredibly lucky to have a very female friendly agency, but there have been experiences from an account management or client service standpoint where oftentimes it's dominated by primarily women until you hit about the director leadership level, and then slowly, the table starts to turn and it becomes more male dominant, male focused and a little bit more competitive in that. I think I've seen that across my career, so it's refreshing to be at an agency now where you look at the leadership team and three of the five are female. You look at our directors across all of our departments, they're female. Hannah's team with ops, they're female. It's almost unheard of, which is sad to say in this day and age. Hannah: I had read a stat that was, for every hundred men that are promoted into those positions, 86 women are promoted. Meaning men outnumber women at those levels above manager, so there’s fewer women in those leadership positions. So it is refreshing to be at a company where it's almost even. Something I've thought about too, and it doesn't matter what industry this is, but I think women are always taught from a young age humility, which is important to have as a leader, but not exactly helpful if you are made to be taught, “Hey, don't brag about yourself, you have to stay humble.” When you're trying to make a name for yourself, especially as a marketer and an advertiser that's not exactly helpful advice either. So it's also trying to navigate that as a woman entering the workforce for the first time. Specific to our industry advertising and agency life, it's not the most flexible. Media is not the most flexible, and women who are at an age where they wanna start having kids and have a family, they need companies that support that flexibility for them, so that they feel supported. Shana: And from that work life balance or family first mentality, I've definitely had the experience in my career of almost feeling apologetic for being a mother first. Whereas I see some of my male colleagues being commended for being family first. We need to be able to shift that perspective and that expectation that work life balances is key across the board. Family first dynamic and agency is okay, whether you're male, female, whether it’s your family, your children, a partner, or your pets. Whoever it may be, we’re all unique in our experiences and, and our definitions. I've found that when I've been in a meeting and somebody will say, “Hey, you don't need to be emotional about this.” I’m not being emotional. I'm being passionate, I'm being authoritative. I'm not being emotional. Whereas I've seen in the same experience on the flip side men tend to get a little bit of leeway in that situation. They're taking the authority that they need to, they're leading. It's the same, the output's the same. It's just, where it’s coming from. Elise: I think that goes back to thinking about the traditional archetypes of a male versus a female. I think in 2022 and beyond, those are starting to shift shape quite a bit more than what you think about back to our, our parents' time or their parents' time. I think it still is pretty true to say that women feel like they are having to juggle a lot of things, especially when they do have a family. That can oftentimes lead to a lot of stress, a lot of burnout, and especially guilt as well, when you're thinking about putting your job before your family. What are some ways that women who are career minded can work to prevent that burnout and stress and also help ground themselves to be okay with being both a professional and a mom? Shana, would you kick us off? Shana: I would say setting clear expectations, not only for yourself, but for your peers and also paying attention to the culture of where you're going. When I first started interviewing with Coegi and asking a little bit about culture, I was listening for things like work life balance, or benefits. What do the benefits look like? That tells you a lot about the type of support and the perspective that you see within that agency. I always make it a habit whenever I'm either kicking off with a new team, employee, or agency to say “I'm married, I have three kids, they're busy kids, we split time,” whatever else, but I'm setting that expectation up front that you're gonna have 110% of me. The majority of my life is spent here at this agency, focused on the growth and the support, but when I need to be a mom or when I need to be a wife or when I just need to be Shana, you have to be okay with that, and I have to be okay with my team as well. Those boundaries are important. Hannah: I like what you said that you are the one that's setting the tone as a person that's leading the team. So anybody new to the organization, they're just being a sponge in observing how their peers are acting. So not only at the executive level, but anyone that's leading a team, whether that's director or manager saying, “Hey, this is our expectation of you, but you're gonna see people that are working late, not because you need to be working late, but because they have kids that they have to pick up at 3:30-4, and that's just the time that they work the best.” So basically what I'm trying to say is, as a manager and director and exec, you are the people that are setting the tone to make sure that people are aware that balance is needed, and that we're also communicating that it's okay to have balance. It's okay to be a mom that has to go pick up their kids or if a kid comes into the zoom meeting. Who cares, you're a mom, that's also your job too. Shana: It's healthy too. Think about what we do, we communicate for a living, we identify audiences, we try to understand their behaviors and where they're at and what's driving them to do different things. We're not robots, we can learn from our people, what they do and what their lifestyles are like. We need to be able to bring that and make that real, and I think that makes us a stronger agency for it. Hannah: So something that we were talking a little bit about earlier was an article stating how much burnout has happened over the course of the last two years. I was kind of thinking about why is it that women experienced more burnout and stress during the pandemic? Something that I read was that there was a lot of emotional response to the pandemic, not only with your employees, but also with your leaders. I don't have a stat on this, but I do think women naturally tend to be just more empathetic. They are naturally more likely to be empaths, and I think they take on the emotions of other people, whether or not we even realize that we're doing it. So I think that women spend a lot of time supporting their teams and really caring about the wellbeing of their teams. Not that men don't, but it's just in our nature to do that. I think the ways that organizations can also help the women in their organization to not be so burned out is to recognize and appreciate them being the caretakers, and caring about the wellbeing of employees. I think that's much of what we've seen in the last two years, especially. Elise: So, you bring up a good point about women tending to be empathetic and showing that empathy to others, what are some other ways that female leaders can continue to empower the other women in their organization? Making them not feel alone, giving them a voice, making them feel seen and heard, and then on the flip side, what are some ways that men can also take part in that empowerment of their female colleagues and help lift them up in their organization. Hannah, do you wanna start off on that one? Hannah: Sometimes when it comes to having a voice and standing up for something, some people think it has to be this really huge thing, like go into the president's office and say, “Hey, you know, this needs to change and I'm here to speak about it.” I think it can start at a smaller level. That's really intimidating to do, and a lot of people aren't gonna go toward that, but it can start at a small level and just be a conversation with one of your peers or a small group of women to simply have and start the conversation. More voices are better than one, and I think opening that dialogue, especially as someone that's in a management position, I have to be the one that opens the floor sometimes because not everybody feels comfortable coming to me and saying, “Hey, I really want to talk about this particular topic.” We have to make it comfortable. As far as the men's side of things, just listen. Just listen and really trust your female leaders to take that and make it better and run with it. Don't feel like you need to dictate that, really listen and trust your women leaders in your organization. Shana: The only thing I would add to that is I think sometimes as women, because we're cognizant of that glass ceiling or the limitations in our field we tend to not embrace that while we're all equal here, but I'm a woman so if I'm a woman or somebody identifies as being female or whatever it is, that's okay. There's nothing wrong, and I don't need to hide behind that. I don't need to change who I am. I can be just as professional as if I identified as male or female. If I can do my job, I can do my job, and I think that's what women need to remember, and men as well. At the end of the day, we're all sitting at this table for a reason, I earned a right to be at this table, just as you did and vice versa. Elise: You brought up earlier that Coegi in particular is a very female heavy organization, and we have a leadership team that's made up of 60% women. So how do you feel that has impacted Coegi’s culture since your time being here? How do you feel you've seen it impact our overall working styles and the output of what our company has been able to achieve? Any sort of input or thoughts there? Shana: I hope that it's empowering to anybody in our organization that's coming in, to see that they work for a company that promotes based on talent, and hires based on experience. I hope that those that are coming in, their first job out of college and they look to see wow, it is possible to work for a very successful organization that is largely led by women, and that their experience has been positive, and that they've learned a lot from working under female leaders, as well as male leaders. Hannah: One of the things you had said was coming right outta college, I have only been in the workforce maybe about eight years compared to some other people in the organization, but the first two jobs I've had in my career over 50% of the exec staff were female at my first job and at Coegi. It was one of those things that I didn't even think about like, “oh, could I ever be the CFO?” I've had CFOs that were female and it was one of those things that I'm like, “oh, well if they can do it, I can do it.” It doesn’t even cross my mind anymore that I'm like, “oh, I can't do that because I'm not female.” I'm seeing firsthand that it's absolutely possible. A lot of people come to Coegi from business school at a university. I went to a business school and I remember seeing over 50% male students in those classes, and we were all going after the same internships. I remember feeling really discouraged and questioning, am I gonna get the same opportunities, because they appear to be a lot more confident when they're talking about accounting versus me. Luckily I entered the workforce at a time with our generation where that had already started to shift. It's been really awesome to see in both jobs I've held, it's been the same ratio of male to female in the exec level staff. Shana: Which is nice because then you've come into it with an expectation instead of an exception. Whereas unfortunately with mine, it was the opposite. I recall coming in and you get introduced, or you're in a new business pitch and they've got all their senior level and I'm just sitting here looking around at a table full of 50 plus men. Then I'm here, a 20 something year old girl, and there might be one or two others, but it's intimidating. It wasn't necessarily the most encouraging or nurturing of situations, and I definitely hope that your experience becomes more the norm, and that we do have generations to come, both male and female, who don't think about it anymore. Elise: Representation is critical, and being able to see yourself in those roles, but going beyond just male versus female, thinking about just true diversity in an organization. I know that's something that Coegi prioritizes, diversity in background, diversity in race, diversity in perspective, et cetera. We also know that women of color in particular are only 4% of C-suite leaders, according to what McKenzie's Women in the Workplace report stated. So Shana, I'd love your perspective on the changes that organizations should be making to better improve that diversity in their leadership team and be more of a representative of the nation that we're living in. Shana: It's an unfortunate statistic that hopefully we see going the other direction soon, but I think it just comes down to hiring the right people. You have to get rid of the preconceived notions, especially because the agency world can be rather incestuous. We tend to look within our existing networks and contact lists, and that's really narrowing. So look for global experience, look for unique experience. I love a generalist, a generalist is probably one of my favorite types of strategists because they've dabbled in everything. I think when you start looking outside of a very niche, check the box kind of a candidate, and you really start looking for experience, that's where you're gonna find your diversity. You're just gonna see it across the board, and that's age, that's race, that's gender, that's experience, it's across the board. You just have to think outside the box. Hannah: I think it's important to have diversity in the people that are doing the hiring, and are looking to bring that perspective. So you have to be that as you're going on, looking at it to say, we're not just hiring to check a box, we actually show that we are diverse and want different backgrounds at the company. Shana: I love blind reviewing resumes, where you don’t even have the name, but you're looking at just experience, no image, none of that. I think that's really telling, and I wish I could reference this study, but they did go through where they just gave a candidate, the outline of resumes that were blind versus those where there was a profile image, a name, and whatnot, and the candidate selection sadly, is what you would expect. I think that's the way we need to look at it. It’s who makes the most sense for our organization. Elise: Thinking about ways to improve organizations' representation and empowering women in particular, what are some policies that you've seen put in place here at Coegi or in other organizations that have done a really successful job of making women feel comfortable, in particular, looking at their different stages of life. Whether it's adopting, or having a child or whatever stage that is, what are some different things we should be considering? Hannah: Going back to flexibility, women should never feel penalized or hesitant to get married, to have kids, to get a pet, whatever it is. Having support in place, and that could mean a benefits package. It's not always about maternity, having a great maternity plan is awesome because then women do feel like, “okay, I still have the support while making this huge life change.” But even after you have the child, what does that mean then too? Women should not feel penalized because they have to go pick up their kid, or zoom meetings, sometimes my kid is screaming in the background. It’s about not making your female colleagues feel guilty for being a mom. Shana: It’s being accepting, that's a hundred percent it. Offering support across the board regardless of situation, maybe you're not actually the one giving birth, but you're still able to be part of that. Having a mother's room is huge, even if you're not actually pumping, you just need a minute of mental space, it's huge. One of my favorite pictures is of Ryan, our VP of marketing innovation. We were on a leadership call, and we all had a kid and a dog in the frame and he took a screenshot of it because he was like, this is the new norm, right? This is the reality. I think when you have an organization that is supportive of “life happens,” that's where you really start to see the change. You see the diversity that's there and it starts to manifest in more ways than one, not just more women, or diversity in age and whatnot. It's acceptance in general. So, I think you nailed it. Hannah: I was listening to a podcast of an Olympic athlete and she was sponsored by Nike and she caught a lot of flack because she decided she wanted to have kids, and was pregnant. She could kind of see the shift in the sponsorship. That they're like, “are you even gonna be able to compete as well?” I think she won a gold medal after she even had the kid, but they had asked her kind of a similar question of like, what can organizations do better? She said it was like practical things, like when she had to travel for a meet, she had a one year old and they still gave her a roommate or forced her to have a roommate. She's like, “okay, that's fine, but I have a child that's almost one year old, is that roommate going to enjoy me having to take care of this kid and having facilities for her to feed and pump.” It's even just practical things. Shana: It's even going beyond that. I think naturally we think when you're getting married, or when you're having kids and whatnot, but you're getting older. You've got parents to care for, or you're going through life changes yourself, being a woman is hard. So, being able to have that dialogue with your leadership team, with your direct manager, with your team as well, just to be practical. I think it is really important. Elise: Well, I wanna thank you both for being great role models for Coegi and for having this important conversation and spending time with us today. Thank you for listening. Coegi is an industry leading performance marketing agency based in the Midwest. We've learned a lot since our founding in 2014 and started The Loop Marketing Podcast to share some of our hot takes on marketing trends we're following, best practices, we've discovered and actionable tips for improving your digital strategy. We'll see you next time.

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