This past week, advertising professionals from around the globe converged on the Cannes Lions Fest, and amongst the glitz and glamour a reality emerged – women still are facing an uphill battle to gain entry in the C-Suite. Women comprise 34% of upper-middle management at advertising agencies, and the numbers dwindle even further as you go up the ladder. A panel of leading women in advertising agreed to be on a panel at the Majestic Barriere in Cannes to discuss the topic. A theme about sponsorship in the workplace dominated the talks.
Sponsors are agents in an organization who become advocates for younger employees in the executive boardroom. The agents talk to the higher echelon about their accomplishments, recommend them for high profile assignments and better yet bring their names up for promotions and succession planning. Recent studies have shown females in the workplace lack these all too important sponsors. The Center for Work-Life Policy showed men were 46% more likely to have a sponsor than women. This reality means less women are brought up during leadership discussions; and therefore are unable to attain high ranking positions and higher pay.
Wendy Clark, senior VP of Integrated Marketing, Communications and Capabilities at Coca-Cola indicated her company has a full field of females in mid-management who year after year get passed over in succession planning. In response, the CEO of Coca-Cola has asked her to initiate a program which will mandate at least one woman be placed in “ready now” succession planning each year.
Another key take away from the panel was lack of support from pioneering women in an organization. Those who make it through to the boardroom will take the time to bring other women up with them. We need to get successful women to look down into the pool of talent below them and pull other young women into the ranks in order to finally see more women in the C-Suite. They are the greatest advocates for our daughters to succeed in business, become independent financially and contribute the most to our society. Women obtain more graduate degrees than men, and if we pull together, we will be able to obtain at least an equal share of representation in the boardroom.
Klaassen, A. Advertising Age. “Cannes Panel: How Women in Ad Industry Can Increase Senior Ranks.” June 22, 2011. http://adage.com/article/special-report-cannes/women-ad-industry-increase-senior-ranks/228336/