Bloomfest 2024: intersectionality and women’s work-life balance

The event coincides with the release of a new work-life balance study

Bloom UK, a professional network for women in marketing and communications hosted its annual flagship event, Bloomfest, yesterday (7 February), bringing together over 300 women and allies.

Hosted at Taboola HQ, the event had a lineup of over 40 speakers, facilitators and artists, across 22 sessions, including panels and workshops. This year’s topics focused on intersectionality, DEI, career development, and storytelling.

Sharon Lloyd Barnes, Commercial Director and Talent & Inclusion Lead at the Advertising Association said the event is an important way to hear the lived experiences of others, offering ways employers can bring that open conversation to the workplace.

‘I think a good way to start is creating space for conversation. For example, we can ask staff to share five personal needs which can then open up what people wouldn’t think about because it’s not their lived experience,’ she told MediaCat Magazine.

The Intersectional Ally panel

The Juggle

The event coincided with the release of a new study by Bloom UK titled The Juggle — the industry’s biggest consultation into women’s work-life balance through an intersectional lens. Surveying over 700 women working in advertising, marketing and communications, the study revealed that 93% of women in the marketing and communications industry say that a lack of work-life balance has negatively impacted their mental health in some way.

The survey sought the views and experiences of a diverse group of women, including parental status, ethnicity, sexuality, age, seniority, whether they have health conditions, are neurodivergent, or are experiencing perimenopause or menopause. It found that a shocking 83% of women said that they had experienced physical health issues as a result of a poor work-life balance, with 43% experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or burnout.

Additionally, two thirds of women of colour feel their ethnicity means they face unique challenges or barriers in achieving work-life balance, and more than half (62%) of queer women agree that a lack of work-life balance has negatively impacted their personal relationships, compared to 47% of heterosexual women.

Elizabeth Anyaegbuna, Bloom President 2023-24, said: ‘The data confirms many women shoulder a disproportionate burden, especially those facing intersectional challenges. With The Juggle, we aim to equip managers and leaders to foster supportive, equitable workplaces.’

In a panel moderated by Emma Parrish, Business Director at Kindred Agency and Head of Special Projects at Bloom UK, panellists discussed the findings of the report and unpacked the concerns about work-life balance, especially in underrepresented groups. Each panellist shared their experiences juggling work and personal life and touched on the subject of money and flexibility.

Rosa Rolo, Group Strategy Director at Majar Group said, ‘Pay people transparent salaries. From my experience, it’s those of us with an intersectional minority, whether it’s wheelchair, childcare, or carer costs who are impacted the most, and we need to fight for equal pay. Be paid fairly — demand it from your bosses, put the information on the table to ask what they are doing to change the dial.’

The Juggle panel / Credit: Bronac McNeill

Other sessions of the day included The Intersectional Ally, offering advice on how to better support those who face challenges; The DEI Debate, a session dedicated to unpacking the future of DEI; and The Science of Great Storytelling, how both as humans and as marketers, storytelling can be helpful.

Itty Alimi, Engagement Manager — Talent and Inclusion at the Advertising Association told MediaCat Magazine that Bloomfest is a great way to hear so many diverse stories.

‘We learn so much when we come together and hear each other. We don’t have everyone’s lived experiences, but when we are in these spaces we can hear different lived experiences and different thoughts and share ideas. It’s so uplifting and empowering.’

Featured image: Bloomfest 2024 / Credit: Bronac McNeill

Grace Gollasch, Content and Social Media Editor at MediaCat Magazine

Grace relocated from Australia to London in July 2023, joining the MediaCat Magazine team in September 2023. Before making the move, Grace spent a year and a half at Mediaweek, Australia’s largest media trade publication, where she was a journalist and social media manager.

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MediaCat is an online publication exploring marketing and media change. We focus on brands, the environments where they operate, and the industries that serve them, reporting on ideas, trends, and perspectives. Delving into modern brand experiences, evolving media landscapes, emerging forms of insight, the dynamic world of commerce, forces of transformation in organisations and markets, and the drivers of social impact, we aim to guide professionals navigating a brave new world.

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