Women have faced countless challenges over the past few decades, but thankfully we have seen how women who made it in the marketing industry are trying their absolute best to help other females reach the top.

Tech companies have definitely seen their fair share of a lack of female presence within the industry. But thankfully, there are now strong women rising up and making big changes.

media update’s Talisa Carlson speaks to Claire Carter, Lenovo’s MEA marketing director and head of Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL), about women making waves in the marketing industry.

How can brands encourage more opportunities for women at tech companies?

If you don’t track or measure [opportunities], they won’t happen! So, having a formal, focused program for this, is extremely important. This is not about ticking boxes, but about creating real systemic change. It’s also important to have people who are truly passionate about the topic, being part of the group, driving the business strategy on diversity and inclusion, and from a gender perspective, this very much includes men. In order to really drive meaningful change, we need men to be allies and [for them] to be involved as much as women.

Women hold only 23% of tech jobs in South Africa and all companies have a responsibility to change this, as many of these positions are also at junior levels.

How can brands focus on running a marketing team while empowering women?

Running a gender-balanced marketing department is not really different from running any other department in the company. The only different dynamic is that marketing organically has more female talent, by nature, of the function than maybe other STEM functions. When we talk to our female leaders, they require flexibility and so having agile working as part of my team culture is mandatory.

The diversity of thought, perspective and content which a diverse team brings is invaluable to the business. While actively managing general and gender diversity, it is also about having the right talent in roles and setting people up for success, which at the end of the day is the ultimate goal.

What are some challenges that female marketers face in the current marketing landscape?

I believe the challenges women face are “universal” and are not function-specific. A study done by The Human Edge on South African women in business found that women in South African businesses have an absence of ‘psychological safety’, showing that 55% have little or no confidence in speaking up around senior leaders. This shows that women continue to doubt themselves when it comes to asking for promotions or pay raises, which leads to holding themselves back in their careers.

Covid has put extra pressure on women in the workplace where juggling work, homeschooling and distant learning has become part of an all too familiar daily ‘juggle’.

Can you give three tips women should focus on when wanting to grow their career in marketing?

One, be unapologetically you! Always remember that you deserve your seat at the table. As women, we often doubt ourselves, and instead, we should be confident in our abilities and know that we deserve that seat at the boardroom table and deserve to be heard.

Two, find a mentor. Surround yourself with a support system who you can reach out to, get support from, and be inspired by. We’ve all faced similar challenges and should be surrounded by a “tribe” who can credit our emotional bank account.

Three, don’t let your inner voice talk louder than your capability. Often as women, we allow our lack of confidence to talk us out of applying for a role when we are absolutely capable of doing the job. We are often our own worst enemies and need to believe in the value we can add to any organisation.

What advice do you have for young women who are working towards becoming leaders in their industry?

Successful leaders don’t just do their job; they do whatever it takes to go above and beyond. You have to pay your dues along the way and this will open up doors to all sorts of opportunities.

Unfortunately, sometimes as a woman you have to work even harder, but recognition will help you get to where you want to be by doing this; it’s self-gratifying.

As women, we wear so many different hats and this gives us such a rich perspective on life and in business.

You’re only as good as your team. Focus on getting the ‘right people on the bus’ as attitude and trust are everything.

You can train and upskill anyone with the right mindset and everyone in your team is a reflection of you, so spend time and focus on people and talent.
Pay it forward … I can think of many leaders along my journey who have helped shape me into who I am today, and I believe it’s my duty to pay that forward. I believe, as women, that we all have that duty to each other, to build each other up (not tear each other down) and to open doors for others just like doors have been opened for us.

If you are a female in marketing what advice do you have for other women wanting to enter this space? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below. 

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Now that you know why the marketing industry needs women, be sure to read Why more marketers should share positive messages to women.