IWD: Career advice I wish I’d listened to sooner.

IWD: Career advice I wish I’d listened to sooner.

IWD 2024

Our Digital Senior Account Manager, Lindsay Brown, shares her views on career progression for women.

It’s all about the ladies this week.

It will be impossible to miss the onslaught of positivity posts for IWD, celebrating how far we’ve come. Although we’re a far cry from Mad Men days, I was shocked to learn that the average female UK Marketer is still paid 16% less than their male counterparts (Source: Marketing Week), and this stat increases when we explore Exec level positions. And don’t get me started on the Confidence gap crisis

Ladies (and gentlemen) there is work to be done.

This got me thinking, it must be tough for females starting out in this industry. It can be difficult to spot gender washing and navigate which businesses truly support and nurture female talent. Also, in a world of ‘remote’ working, there is a greater need to be confident and speak up to be seen.

For most of my working life I have battled with my confidence. Not asking for the pay rise that I deserved. Not putting myself forward as another colleague could ‘do it better’.

I certainly wish that I could impart my current knowledge on career progression and women’s rights to my younger self.

Here are 5 pieces of advice that I wish I’d listened to sooner.

Find your people.

To feel seen and developed to your potential, you need to find an employer that has values that you align with and policies that support you.

  • Check that the company has a diverse team, including women in leadership positions. 70% of the staff at Spark are female, with 3 rocking leadership positions!
  • Ask about the company’s position on female related policies such as maternity and abortion leave, as well as menopause policies
  • Find out about the company’s culture and values on their socials and website (we’re proud to be certified a ‘Great place to work 2023-2024’)
  • Oh, and there might be other signs too, like free tampons in the bathroom!

You are what you consume.

Choose to surround yourself with inspiring women (we have lots of these at Spark!), and don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions. Why not ask a senior colleague to mentor you, you could set up a monthly coffee date?

I also found ‘The Squiggly Careers’ podcast a brilliant resource. Aimed at mentoring all levels at reaching their upmost potential. From finding your purpose, to expediting your career progression. At Spark, we take the time to talk to every member of staff, understanding where their career aspirations are, and try to help achieve them.

Hard work only gets you so far.

It’s time to put your hand up. Other colleagues might seem more qualified, more confident and more able. But don’t let the fear of the ‘hierarchy’ stop you from putting yourself forward for an opportunity. There’s no confidence gap crisis here!

Have the uncomfortable conversation.

If you think you’re being underpaid, it’s time to get uncomfortable and talk fair salaries with your employee.

This isn’t the case for all employers, but at Spark, we are open and honest with our salaries and base them on talent and skillset, not gender.

You should keep a check on salary surveys, recruitment, and job sites to get a grasp on the industry benchmarks for your role. Arm yourself with insight for your pay review. Fair is fair.

It’s okay to be feminine.

Early on in my career, I was told ‘You are a nice girl, but being a businesswoman is tough, maybe you should rethink your career’.  Whilst I had an abundance of supportive colleagues that saw in my potential, I often mulled on whether I was tough enough to make it. Did I need to reject my femininity and behave more like a man if I was to succeed in this business?

I realise now that there is certainly not ‘one way to be’ and being authentically you is the best version of ‘you’ you can be. Cultivating diverse teams of personalities, genders, ethnicities and beyond can only be positive.

At Spark, we strongly believe in continuously developing our team with PDPs for everyone, as well as exciting initiatives such as our ‘Confidence workshop’ and ongoing Spark Talks programme.