Debate On Women In Marketing

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has published a new discussion paper considering the representation of women in the marketing profession. It is intended as a contribution to the ongoing debate and as an invitation to marketers to share their views.

Senior female marketers from some of the biggest brands and businesses in the world were invited to con-tribute to the paper.

Correspondents highlighted the problems they have experienced in their own careers and organisations and suggested potential solutions. Issues covered include quotas and targets for female representation on boards, differences in remuneration, the potential benefits of mentoring programmes and the representation of marketing in general at senior executive levels.

The paper confirms that women are well represented in more junior marketing roles. Indeed, the majority of graduate and junior marketing positions are occupied by women.

But there are comparatively few female CMOs or marketing directors. Female executives earn £400,000 less over the course of their career than their male counterparts in the same job.

Research indicates that companies with more women on their boards outperform their rivals with a 42 per cent higher return in sales, 66 per cent higher return on invested capital and 53 per cent higher return on equity.

Contributors to the discussion and the paper include Sarah Speake of Google UK and Ireland; Ellie Mickleburgh from Hays; Anna Bate-son at YouTube and Fiona Dawson of Mars Chocolate.

Christine Watson, chairwoman of the Ireland board of CIM, said: “While marketing as a profession is very effective at attracting female talent and the majority of graduate and entry-level positions are held by women, a mere 23 per cent of marketing and sales directors are female.

“What is happening to these women, where are they getting lost on the career ladder, and why are they not progressing to CMO level alongside their male counterparts?

“The participants covered the full range of issues, including quotas. Some argue that quotas stipulating the number of women at a particular management level have the potential to focus minds and help to ‘level the playing field’ but they can make the problem worse. Women won’t go for jobs for fear of being seen as only there to make up the quota. Trans-parent targets and real culture change are much more effective.”

“Marketing needs good women just as much as it needs good men. For the profession to truly assert itself within the business community, we need the very best senior marketers taken from a diverse and able talent pool.”

Roseann Kelly, chief executive of Women in Business NI, said: “While progress is being made for more women to be represented in the boardroom, it is slow and therefore quotas need to be considered in order to expedite the process.”

Gloria Moss, author of Gender, Design and Marketing, said: “Unconscious bias can prevent organisations from profiting from the pool of diversity available to it. Without a workforce that mirrors the diversity of the customer base, it is difficult to produce products and services that will really appeal to your target market.”

Of course as marketers we segment markets and recognise that men and women are different. So, at a time when consumers are filling their electronic baskets, businesses need to be savvy and ensure that they are marketing their products to their full potential by using the website as a tool to influence their target audience, and gender plays a major role in this.

Marketers can visit to join the conversation.