Challenging the status quo

As the marketing industry works to offset the negative impact that Covid has had on our sector, and especially women, Imagen Insights' Cat Agostinho reflects on how it's important to highlight the positive strides made over the past few years

The pandemic has affected so many in the workplace in one way or another,

but overall, more women were furloughed in the UK than men and, according to LordsLibrary, young women were particularly impacted. Their work detailed reasons for this including the fact that; women were over-represented in some of the worst hit sectors, and that they do a greater share of unpaid care.

An ongoing fight has been tough to keep jobs for many working during the onset and following the pandemic as we work towards economic recovery. With less time spent together with colleagues physically, this has also had a large scale impact on women’s growth, promotions and salary increases. However, there are some positive outcomes from the move to hybrid and flexible working. Even though it may have taken a pandemic to realise this, there has been a hugely positive shift for many women I know, me being one, in the flexibility of working hours. I’m able to drop my daughter at nursery and/or pick her up three days a week — namely because my own business values have made that possible, but others have also led the way in making this happen within the industry.

The theme this year for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias and while I could write at length about the impact of the pandemic on women, it is also pivotal to celebrate the successes we have seen in recent years when it comes to working in solidarity to call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping.

Here are some of my favourites:


Channel 4

I was really pleased to see Channel 4’s 4Women, (Channel 4’s in-house gender equality network) policy come into play. The network is one of the few employers in the UK to offer bereavement leave for individuals and families dealing with pregnancy loss, and this was built in 2021 on their existing menopause policy — something that is not widely spoken about in the workplace.

I am a big fan of the network’s true commitment to diversity and am looking forward to watching the winter paralympic games, led by an all-star team of disabled presenters. This, I believe, will be the first time in which an entirely disabled team of presenters will have hosted a sporting event for a broadcaster, globally.

Vodafone

As mentioned, menopause is not something that seems to be widely spoken about in the working world and is still seen as a taboo subject by some. One company paving the way for an open conversation on this topic is Vodafone. The company estimates that menopause affects 15% of its 100,000 employees, and it has decided to support them through a range of different measures. As well as introducing training and awareness programs about menopause for all employees, Vodafone is offering them extra support around sick leave, medical treatment, and flexible working. Their ReConnect program also aims to attract talented women back into the workforce after they leave to raise a family.

Afrocentrix

And smaller businesses can also pave the way for others too. Our friends over at Afrocentrix startup, have implemented a Mental Health & Wellness Pledge as part of their policy around wellbeing — one that inspired us to do something similar. Including offerings of personal days and access to support systems, opening doors for conversations can help normalise the issues that many of us women face but are maybe not confident to speak about in a work setting.

Building for the future

Within our business, at Imagen Insights, we have taken inspiration from those paving the way for equality and we champion the views and wellbeing of both our community and our internal team. We have implemented a 10am-4pm working day for our internal team to ensure they can enjoy a harmonious work-life balance, alongside providing them with 2 mental health days a year.

Our values are built to match our business ethos too. We give back and all our employees are encouraged to go the extra mile in helping to elevate the voices of young people. I myself am a mentor to five women from underrepresented backgrounds, and our wider team contributes to young people by giving back too. From volunteering for the Young Women’s Trust to mentoring, we believe when one of us wins we all win.

Featured image: Natalia Hua / Unsplash

Cat Agostinho

Cat Agostinho is Co-founder of Imagen Insights. She has been a supporter and promoter of talent throughout her career and co-founded dawn in 2009 - a community dedicated to inspiring and developing women’s careers both personally and professionally.Cat's motto is, "Your own success will come if you help others along the way" and she believes wholeheartedly in the potential of young people and strives to support them on their paths to finding confidence and success.Cat's mission is to continue to support young people and provide them with opportunities regardless of their background and that diversity goes beyond race and gender, it’s also about diversity in thought. Cat has co-created a business and a culture that champions inclusivity, and Imagen Insights adapts processes and methods to cater for languages, disabilities and social factors.Throughout the years, Cat has been involved in many varying initiatives to empower different people as she has felt a sense of responsibility to support the next generation of leaders. In particular, she has a passion for mentoring, demonstrated through her work with Education and Mentorship programmes. Despite her involvement in a variety of different ventures, Cat goes above and beyond to provide opportunities for young people as shown by her willingness to mentor five women from underrepresented backgrounds.Cat was listed as an IPA Women of Tomorrow Finalist 2018, is a contributing member to the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) and was a finalist in AWEurope’s Future is Female Awards, 2021, and the She Has No Limits Community Maker Awards, 2021. Cat was also shortlisted for AdTech Personality of the Year award 2021.

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