With the start of the new year and the approaching launch of our new book “Wonder Women: Inspiring Stories & Insightful Interviews with Women in Marketing”, we thought it would be a good time to look forward to what 2021 might hold for women in marketing and business.
We think that there are many reasons to be cheerful.
1. Increasing acceptance of diversity and inclusion
2020 was the year when diversity and inclusion came to the fore and issues like sexual orientation and race made headlines, think Black Lives Matter, think transgender, but so too did equality for women. We have seen companies around the globe place increasing emphasis on D&I with committee and commitments being made by many. A recognition of their responsibilities to make the new ‘normal’ a better place for all.
2. Female role models are coming out of the shadows
Role models in sports, politics and business represent and expand what is possible, role models inspire women to be more ambitious and aim higher, role models demonstrate the mindsets and behaviours of how to rise. The Female Lead project, founded by data entrepreneur Edwina Dunn, highlights the breadth of female achievement in order to promote role models and offer inspiration for future generations.
Their social media following has grown exponentially in 2020; LinkedIn: 1.5 million; Instagram: 1.1 million; Facebook: 267,000; Twitter: 88,600; TikTok: 57,000. Women who were previously invisible are now in full view.
3. Women leaders get good press
Women leaders across the globe have been enjoying some rave reviews in the last few months and rightly so; the record of many of them in their handling of the Covid crisis puts most of the male counterparts to shame. A study from the universities of Liverpool and Reading identified that female leaders tend to be more sensitive to risk which led them to take big decisions early.
And with Kamala Harris trailblazing into the White House, we can also expect further re-assessment of women as great leaders.
4. Feminine characteristics are being re-evaluated
Further to this we have seen and expect to continue to see traits that have often been talked about as more feminine traits being re-evaluated. Their value is increasingly being recognized. We’re talking about attributes like intuition and empathy. In the Liverpool and Reading universities’ study they found that empathy increases awareness of the consequences of your own actions, your ability to build relationships with others, and your willingness to put human beings ahead of hard economics.
With the global pandemic, traditional best practices no longer apply in many cases, so the need for feminine attributes of adaptability and agility has never been greater, together with the ability to balance the demands of ‘now’, as well as the future.
5. More CMO roles are held by women (and ethnic minorities)
Closer to home, in the marketing world, women are continuing to crack the glass ceiling. The Marketing Society appointed its second female CEO in 2020 when Sophie Devonshire took the place of Gemma Greaves; Sara Bennison, CMO at Nationwide, won the Bravest Marketing Leader of the Year award. Campaign named Alessandra Bellini, CCO at Tesco its 2020 Top Marketer. Enlightened companies including LEGO, Adobe, Google, SAP, Twitter, Visa, KFC, Netflix, FedEx, Levi Strauss (and the list goes on an on) have appointed women as global CMOs.
6. The entrepreneurial spirit is rising
2020 was a year of change, upheaval, and difficulty for many businesses. But, since the pandemic started, female-owned start-ups have grown by almost one third across tech, health, food & drink, fashion, environmental focus and many other sectors. The reason for this may be because the pandemic has had a greater effect on women in employment, with UK Government statistics showing that more women were furloughed in comparison to men.
McKinsey note that although women make up 39% of the global workforce, women have totaled 54% of all COVID-19 related job losses. Despite this, women have had the time, the resilience and courage to take their career into their own hands and many have launched their own start-ups, helping to relaunch the economy.
7. Women are leading the way on going green
More and more people are getting involved with eco-friendly initiatives, reducing their use of plastics and recycling as much as they can – but are some better at doing it than others? New research by market research company, Mintel, has revealed an eco gender gap, finding that women care more about the planet than men, and are more interested in topics like ethics and sustainability.
The study of 2,000 Brits discovered that 71% of women try to live more ethically, compared to 59% of men, while 30% of British men try to use less water versus 38% of women. They found that females (64%) are also more likely than men (58%) to turn down or switch off the heating when they are not at home. As more organisations are prioritizing the sustainability agenda, women have the perfect credentials to lead the way.
8. Women... Zooming to the top
If there is one positive brought about by the Covid crisis, it is the demonstration that working from home facilitated by teleconferencing can deliver. This proof that more flexible and remote working can succeed, should help women show their worth and prove to recruiters and managers that more flexibility isn’t a cost, but a benefit.
9. Better parental leave rights
Last year’s British Social Attitudes showed how attitudes among the younger generation are changing. When asked whether paid leave should be divided between the mother and father, 44% of those aged 18 to 25, and 26% of those aged 26 to 35, agreed that it should. This compared with just 13% of over-65s. Now Finland's new government has announced plans to give all parents the same parental leave.
Paid allowance will increase to a combined 14 months, which works out as 164 days per parent. This equality already exists in Sweden and the EU is also heading in the same direction. A 2019 directive has given member states three years to provide each parent with at least four months' leave, including two months that cannot be transferred.
10. A wider audience for Wonder Woman 1984
While technically released in December 2020, we expect it to reach a wider audience this year and it should be good for women. As a symbol of truth, justice and equality, Wonder Woman has real power in the world and forges her own way. Wonder Woman doesn’t worry about outside influences; she always does what is right and looks great doing it. But what stands out is she uses her strength to empower others.
She encourages women to be themselves and to be strong. Born to play the role of "Wonder Woman", Gal Gadot proves that women can be fierce and loyal, as well as empathetic. Just the tonic we need right now. So, here’s to 2021 and to all the Wonder Women in marketing and business. It could and should be a great year.
Wonder Women by Giles Lury & Katy Mousinho will be published on 4th March.
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