Every year, colleagues from CPM UK are delighted to be invited to attend the Omniwomen Summit, bringing together people from all of the Omnicom agencies. This year, along with other colleagues Michelle Stead attended. We got 15 minutes with her to find out more about the day, and her key take-outs from the speakers…
Michelle, what were your perceptions of the summit ahead of attending?
I’d heard so many great things from colleagues who had attended the Omniwomen Summit before, so knew it was going to be a great day full of energy! I went with an open-mind but was very excited to know I was spending International Women’s Day at an event filled with likeminded individuals from across the Omnicom agencies, who all felt passionate about empowering women in the workplace. I was really looking forward to hearing from women who had been successful in their own careers and taking advice and learnings from their journeys that I could apply to my own.
What was the theme of the day?
The theme was all around supporting and celebrating diverse paths to leadership. We heard from a wide range of speakers including Ruth Hunt Chief Executive of Stonewall, Sophie walker Former Leader of The Women’s Equality Party and Sophia Thakur – Award Winning Poet. Each of them have been on their own really interesting and different journeys – successful in their own right. It was really interesting to hear their points of view, the challenges they have faced on their way to the top and how they overcame these and used them to their benefit.
What breakout sessions did you choose?
I chose ‘Cracking Confidence’ with Alison Chadwick which was an interactive workshop providing techniques on how to crack confidence from the inside out and from the outside in. The session looked to help me use my natural strengths to tackle situations that feel challenging and make friends with the inner critic who can sometimes stop me in my tracks. I left the workshop armed with immediately usable tips and tools that will help me look as well as feel more confident in the future.
The second breakout session I picked was called ‘Making your words work for you’ with Sophia Thukur. After seeing her present on the main stage earlier on in the day, I was super-excited to learn more from the talented artist. This session was aimed at forcing myself to tap into my potential, learn how to approach problems with creative solutions and use confidence exercises specifically looking at posture, tone, pace and poise.
Both of the sessions left me feeling empowered and motivated with key learnings that I can now apply to my day job and support in making me the best version of myself.
What was the session that resonated the most with you and why?
I really enjoyed the ‘Breaking The Silence’ session which included a panel of Lorraine Jennings (Director of Services & Talent, NABS), Sean Betts (MD, Annalect), Jessica Geary (Senior Digital Media Director, RAPP) and Claire Sanderson (Editor in Chief Women’s Health). The sessions focussed on the individual mental health and wellbeing struggles that the panel had faced, and how they had overcome these challenges, and used the experiences to positive effect. The session was really open and honest and it was moving to see such senior colleagues talk about their personal struggles. It demonstrated that the path to success is not easy, and that we all need to do more to drive awareness – and open up about how we are feeling. With mental health being so topical at the moment I found it beneficial that the panel touched on this subject and took away lots of ways in which I can make a difference within my workplace to recognise the signs of any colleagues who may need someone to talk to, and what I can do to create a safe environment for individuals to open up.
After attending such an empowering event, what would your advice now be to your female colleagues?
This is a hard one as there was so much brilliant advice I took from the event but what really struck a chord with me was that it’s important to know and accept yourself, to be confident and comfortable with who you are and stay true to yourself on your journey to success. It’s vital to understand what it is you value, what are your strengths and keep true to them ALWAYS! Lastly and mostly importantly – don’t let the inner critic stop you from putting yourself out there, trying new challenges and getting you to where you want to be.
An introduction to Omniwomen
Omniwomen UK + Allies was initially set up 5 years ago with the goal to look at how as an organisation OMNICOM could increase the number, seniority and influence of women in leadership roles across the company. Since establishing, the Omniwomen Team have supported in getting more women into senior roles with 48% of Omnicom’s senior leadership now being female. But not one to stagnate, the Omniwomen UK + Allies Team want to do more and are making the commitment to enable women from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential and this year, are focussing their efforts on supporting and celebrating diverse paths to leadership. Every year Omniwomen UK + Allies hold a Leadership Summit bringing together around 300 colleagues from across the wider UK agencies all passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion and I was lucky enough to attend this year’s event on International Women’s Day.
Did you know?……….
|RETURN ON EQUITY|
On average companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53%
|RETURN ON INVESTED CAPITAL|
On average companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%
|RETURN ON SALES|
On average companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 42%
|Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians||In the UK greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in our data set; for every 10% increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5%|
Source: McKinsey, Catalyst
This years theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter.
The aim is to build a gender-balanced world.
“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”
The gender ratio for the entire world population is 102 males to 100 females – a very gender balanced world I think!
It is also a fact that there is not a problem with female achievement and women now out-perform men in terms of educational attainment. In addition, as women we are also “leaning in” and asking for promotions and negotiating salaries at the same rates as men and, contrary to conventional wisdom, we are now staying in the workforce – again at the same rate as men.
Therefore, to my very logical brain, it would make reasonable sense that the business world would be made up of a balanced number of equally paid males and females at every level within organisations.
So why are there only 30 women in full time executive roles at FTSE 250 companies (down from 38 last year), which amounts to just 6.4% of the total? And why does the national Gender Pay Gap between males and females currently stand at 18.4%? (OfNS April 18).
I recognise that this is not an overnight fix and actually business and government are more committed than ever to balancing the gender equation.
Therefore, we need to push the agenda even harder and overall companies need to take more decisive action. We all need to start treating gender balance with as much importance as our other key business priorities like business growth and customer satisfaction.
This means holding our leaders and managers accountable for results, identifying and closing gender gaps for both new hires but also for all promotions across the business. This certainly does not mean introducing any form of quota system but by first and foremost, having a talent attraction strategy that actively encourages and attracts gender balanced candidates for all roles within your business. Your recruitment process should be merit based, free from unconscious bias and should create excitement, foster confidence and bring out the very best in each and every candidate.
It also means creating an all-inclusive culture, where everyone feels supported, encouraged and given the confidence to progress their careers and achieve beyond what they thought they were capable of – I know I did!
At CPM we are committed to championing a Gender balanced workplace and recognise and understand that inclusion and diversity leads to greater business success. In our UK business, I am very proud to have a gender split of 42% Male, 58% Female and our UK board is split 50% female and 50% male. This is particularly pleasing for a sales organisation where typically “Women in Sales” usually account for less than 30%.
Having a diverse workforce based on opportunity and meritocracy is something that is deeply important to me and to CPM. As someone who has progressed through the business, I am passionate about creating development opportunities for anyone who wants them, whilst at the same time providing support programmes that give everyone – especially women – the confidence to progress their careers if they choose.
We work closely with our female employees to encourage and support the challenges they face with balancing their career & families, and to also build the confidence they sometimes lack to progress their careers. Our flexible working practices, part time roles, mentoring, support and sponsorship programmes, have not only driven positive gender balance across all roles within our business, but have also brought tangible benefits to both our Female and Male colleagues.
Whilst I recognise that there is always work to do to continually improve our business performance, culture and the diversity of our team, I am hugely proud of our progress to date and the engagement, passion, hard work and commitment from the CPM team.
MD, CPM UK