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For April’s edition of OPEN Chat, we have gone digital again, with guest of honour Jo Mostyn, Client Partner at PSI.
What does it mean to you being a woman in the advertising industry?
I feel proud to be a woman in advertising. With so many intelligent, passionate, and inspiring women continuing to push boundaries and dedicated to driving further equality throughout our industry, it fills me with hope for the future. Having recently celebrated International Women’s Day we are still thriving from the momentum gained drawing attention to the issues surrounding inequality in our industry. Seeing the community rally together to drive awareness of the inequity that still exists and demand change is incredibly powerful.
Why is it important for media companies to celebrate IWD?
IWD is a time to reflect on how far we have come as an industry but also to spend time understanding how far we still have to go to reach true gender equality. As an industry we still need to do more, whilst generally speaking, we see equal representation through the workforce yet this is not the case once we hit senior management and leadership positions. Largely to do with the challenges around having families, taking maternity leave and needing more flexibility on their return to work, many women experience this as a barrier to progressing in their career.
Another challenge for women centres around the stereotypes attached to the ‘fundamental differences’ in men and women’s nature. In reality, there is conflicting evidence that these stereotypes hold much truth, yet the assumptions run deep within the industry’s belief system. There may be slight elements of truth to some of these generalisations, but one could argue that the more airtime we give them, the longer they will live on. Our time would be far better spent supporting each other’s progression and, referencing one of my favourite quotes from Wendy Clark (Dentsu global CEO) ‘lifting as we climb’.
How has your experience been with motherhood during a pandemic?
The last 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind to be perfectly honest, I’m sure many could relate. When we first went into lockdown last March I had an 18 month old and a 5 week old baby. I have mixed feelings about my experience through the pandemic, of course with the lack of physical support from my family and friends there were many ups and downs, but overall I have a resoundingly positive view of my experience. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had my partner working from home, meaning he was on hand to help with the children far more than he would have been as ordinarily he would have been working long hours in London.
Since starting back at work I have felt incredibly fortunate that nurseries have been open and so my experience with this has felt fairly seamless. In addition to this, where I am not commuting each day I have been able to spend extra time with the kids, I used to be on a train at the crack of dawn each morning before they would even have woken up and so I am incredibly thankful for that! I have the utmost respect for all parents with older children who have had to navigate home schooling whilst holding down a full time job. I honestly cannot fathom what a challenge this would be, so I take my hat off to each of you!
Coming back to the wonderful team at PSI enabled a smooth return and has felt like coming home, and in many ways, the pandemic has helped us rethink and reorganise our priorities. This is something I very much hope we look to keep hold of as we move into the ‘new normal’.
With flexibility high on our agenda having enjoyed the perks of greater work life balance that working from home can offer, it feels like now is a critical time to further drive this initiative through the industry. I was recently inspired by Sara Tate (CEO of TBWA) for releasing an article in Campaign detailing how she was first offered the CEO role as a new parent and on a 4 day a week basis. We need all women to understand that it is possible to continue climbing in your career whilst balancing time with family and that this should not be a barrier.
In order to support the drive for equality in senior leadership we must further drive positive sentiment around flexible working models. Initiatives such as #FlexibleFirst from WACL will play a vital role in ensuring companies implement more flexible working policies, resulting in more accommodating circumstances for employees. After all, the majority of our industry has worked remotely for the past 12 months and we should all recognise that a more suitable option would be if we measured on output rather than hours. I completely agree with Tate when she explains ‘’If you can find a working context in which people can work most productively and support the rest of their lives, you’ll get the best from them.”
Any advice on COVID-19 crisis and dealing with anxiety around work/the job?
The last year has been incredibly tough with many of us experiencing challenges around continuous remote working and feelings of isolation. It’s important to understand that you are not alone. I find structuring my day to be a helpful tool, including allowing for time outside for a walk or exercise. Fresh air and time in nature seem to find a way of lifting my mood and giving me greater perspective.
We’ve all missed our usual physical social interactions, so it’s important to try to bridge these with making time for non-work related conversations with colleagues as well as friends and family. The most important thing we should all remember is that there are many others with similar challenges and feelings of anxiety. Don’t think twice about speaking out and sharing your challenges with colleagues so that they are able to support you through challenging times. NABS are a fantastic resource for our industry who offer incredibly helpful services around managing stress, resilience and with a view to the additional strain many may be under from the impact of the pandemic, currently have a wealth of content around managing anxiety.
Can you offer any advice to young women just starting their careers in the OOH industry?
Believe in yourself and the importance of what you have to say, your voice matters. Just because someone shouts louder or takes up more space, it doesn’t mean that what they have to say is any more important.
Put yourself out there, say yes to things even if they make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes, every mistake I’ve ever made has been an opportunity to develop and grow!