Q: What challenges do women, and especially women of color, face in the advertising industry?
A: We face a lot of challenges. I can’t speak for everyone but there is a sense of having to prove yourself constantly regardless of the years of experience you have. A lot of times opinions have already been made so you have to work harder to show that you are just as capable as anyone else. That results in having a constant fear of failure and putting a lot of pressure on yourself to succeed. Due to the lack of diversity, we tend to stand out and that can be very overwhelming at times. When you go through internal struggles, finding other mechanisms to sort through those thoughts can be tough as well because talking them out to anyone in the industry there is this fear that the perception will be that you are weak and not as strong and you work so hard for that not to happen.
Q: How can HR professionals better create office spaces that foster diversity and inclusivity?
A: Education - Making sure that everyone in the organization understands that inclusion is about ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard, opinions are considered and value to the team is evident.
Training - Train managers and senior leadership. Hold them accountable to show that inclusivity is a core competency.
Form an Inclusion Committee - Value differences and create an environment where people can feel comfortable bringing their “full selves” to work. Provide employees with a safe space to voice their concerns. Benchmark key aspects of your organization’s culture, and understand the employee experience, before making changes to promote inclusivity. Lastly, daily interactions with employees are the most telling sign of whether or not an organization has an inclusive culture. Employees make the culture. Personally speaking in our organization, without great employees, we wouldn’t have the culture we have today.
Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for women in the advertising industry?
A: One of my favorite quotes is “Believe in yourself and own your own success,” by Sheryl Sandberg. This has gotten me through all the hurdles to get to this point in my career. I have worked at many companies where they have looked at and treated me differently, but I never allowed that to get in the way of my accomplishing my dreams. Passion and perseverance will get you far in life. There's always going to be obstacles, but is not what you go through in your career, it's how you get through it and really defines who you are. Struggles are there to help you get to the next level. My boss once told me, if it makes you uncomfortable it’s a good thing because only then will you learn how to get through it. Never give up. If you want something so badly, work hard, and help others attain and achieve their dreams.