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10 Ways Women Can Help Promote Diversity in Ad Tech

Professional headshot of Emma Newman
By Emma Newman, CRO, EMEA
April 24, 2017

PubMatic has recently launched our diversity inclusion report which touched on three main areas: finding the best talent, empowerment through inclusion, and pay parity.

Obviously, I am vested in all of the above. And as a ‘woman in ad tech,’ I was particularly interested in understanding how we at PubMatic faired with regards to female representation, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Outside of our Indian offices (which are mostly engineers and have their own unique workforce dynamics, more of which you can read about in our report), 36% of our global workforce are female. That is set to grow, as 52% of all new hires in our non-Indian offices in 2016 were female (up from 43% in 2015).

I am well aware that recruiting women in to ad tech is an ongoing challenge, and it takes time to change many long-held perceptions about working in our industry: (1) you need to be young, and willing to work 18 hour days (and drink for the other six); (2) you will have to forgo any semblance of ‘work/life balance’ (in reality, work and life are inextricably linked and it’s about finding what’s right for you, but that’s a whole separate topic), and (3) you will be joining a boy’s club.

As a firm believer that open dialogue is required to change culture, I was delighted to be asked to moderate a panel at the recent DIMA Summit, where I was challenged to bring together a panel of women who had succeeded in ad tech to share their experiences and life lessons with the audience. Challenge accepted.

Joining me in the discussion were:

  • Nadya Powell, founder of Innovation Disorder
  • Dipti Patel, Director of Publisher Development at PubMatic
  • Ellie Edwards-Scott, Digital Consultant
  • Louise Stubbings, Creative Director at Clear Channel

The conversation quickly morphed from a panel Q&A to one that more closely resembled a lively discussion among friends. Despite the informal nature of the conversation, we tackled some meaty topics, including everything from imposter syndrome (let it drive you, not control you) to how to deal with mansplaining (turns out you don’t need to deal with it; assume your colleagues are intelligent enough to see that when a man ‘explains’ something that you’ve just said and subsequently takes the credit for it, he looks the fool).

That said, being a woman in the male-dominated ad tech industry is not smooth sailing, and there are ten key actions women can take to encourage gender equity in our industry:

  1. Don’t assume that all men are equal. There are quite a few men out there who understand the value of having a more diverse workforce, and the number who do is increasing by the day. It is important to find those champions within your organisation and leverage them.
  2. Don’t see other women as competitors. The ‘Queen Bee’ syndrome does still exist and only women can change it. To quote Madeleine Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
  3. You won’t get what you don’t ask for. Your career is your responsibility. Most managers do not have ‘the ability to read a crystal ball’ as a key requirement of their job description.  If you want something – from a promotion to part-time hours following maternity leave – you need to ask for it.  You will be surprised at how accommodating most organisations are.
  4. The power of silence is enormous. When you’re faced with mansplaining, or just feeling intimidated by being the only woman in a room of men (which is very common in the world of ad tech), sometimes saying nothing is the most powerful thing you can do. Don’t feel the need to comment or close gaps in conversation.
  5. If you have something to say, say it. Do not keep your ideas or opinions to yourself. There is a reason you are in the position you have, and you should never be intimidated into thinking that your voice has less value.
  6. Value the perspective you bring as a woman. The reason organisations are striving for diversity in their workforces is because of the strengths everyone brings to the table. It is a variety of thought and perspective that drives innovation.
  7. Know your worth and negotiate accordingly. Being assertive is a strength in business. Don’t be afraid to ask the challenging questions, and there is nothing wrong with refusing to make the tea/organise the lunch/collect the guest from reception (you do not need to play the role of the office ‘mum’).
  8. Don’t leave before you leave. Don’t pass up opportunities to advance your career just because you may want to opt out of the workplace at some point in the future.
  9. Say yes to everything. You never know where each opportunity will lead. Women traditionally only put their hand up for things that they know they are already qualified to do. If you adhere to that, how will you learn and progress?
  10. Don’t stay in the wrong job. If are not satisfied with your job, leave the organization or change the situation. Don’t waste time investing in something that isn’t working for you.

Organisations such as DIMA are helping to highlight the need of driving diversity in all aspects of business, not just ad tech. The discussion around diversity is extending beyond dedicated organisations; it will be a topic of a panel at PubMatic’s Ad Revenue conference tomorrow, moderated by MediaLink Chairman, Wenda Harris Millard.

All of the dialogue around diversity in ad tech boils down to one thing: if we really want to see change in our industry, then we need to make it.