In celebration of Women's History Month, Adstasher has partnered with Movement Strategy, an independent, social-led creative agency with many of its key departments (Creative, Business Strategy, Production, Communications, and People & Culture) led by women! Meet some of the great, creative leaders below and find out their thoughts on how women can thrive and succeed in the dynamic and complicated world of advertising.
Christy Pregont, Partner and Executive Creative Director: With only 3% of Creative Directors in the industry identifying as women, Partner and Executive Creative Director Christy Pregont has served as Movement Strategy’s lead creative voice since joining in January of 2010. Hailed as one of Business Insider’s Most Creative Women in Advertising, Christy is also a key asset for business growth as she has helped expand Movement Strategy’s client roster across offices, which includes Netflix, Under Armour, Warner Bros., and more.
Kate Black, Partner and VP of Business Strategy: Following her role as Head of Client Services at Carrot, Kate Black joined Movement Strategy as a Partner and VP of Business Strategy with a vision to boost the agency’s bottom line. As the founding member of the Business Strategy department two years ago, Kate has since successfully built out a full team across three offices, all while winning new clients including Mars Wrigley, Just Energy, and Hudson Pacific Properties. With the help of her leadership and business acumen, the agency grew 30% in billings in 2018.
Juliette Richey, Head of Production: Director and Documentary Film Producer Juliette Richey brought her vision to create a top tier Production department at Movement Strategy. With over 10 years of commercial production knowledge, Juliette has worked with some of the largest brands in the industry including Target, General Motors, Diageo, Clinique and Under Armour.
Q&A with the Female Leaders at Movement Strategy
Your agency has an impressive number of women in leadership positions. Is there anything specific you've done to help foster and create opportunities for women to succeed in your company?Jason Mitchell: This was a conscious choice. Being an agency started by two men, Eric and I knew that the agency would benefit greatly by ensuring there are women in leadership positions. As we continue to grow, we are now asking our People + Culture team (our name for HR) to evaluate how we are doing across diversity, inclusion, and equality. We’re ensuring that pay is the same across genders, and that we are continuing to actively build a more diverse workplace not just in terms of gender, but across a number of categories we feel are important to make us a strong agency and place to work.
What do you think are some of the big challenges that women in advertising today face?Christy Pregont: While the industry has certainly made great strides from the boys’ club that it once was, like so many industries there remains a lack of diverse leadership--including women. In a lot of ways, it also remains an industry that celebrates certain personality types and certain ways of working. Without women in leadership positions in all sorts of roles within an agency it may be a difficult barrier for advancement to see how you, as a woman, can fill that seat at the table.
I’ve certainly experienced being in meetings with all men and feeling like I needed to speak up louder and ensure I had a very strong presence there. If you are in a more junior role, and have that same experience of sitting around a table and not seeing any other women there, I think that can really impact your short-term and long-term view of your place within the industry.
Whether it is at your own agency or within your larger industry network it’s so important to be able to talk to others that are experiencing the same things that you are--and in the same way that you are. For me, that’s been so crucial to continuing to navigate my role within the industry. I hope that the more women leaders at our agency, and within our industry, the more barriers we will be able to break down.
Kate Black: While I acknowledge that the industry has significantly evolved from the Mad Men era, in my opinion it's still far from where it should be when it comes to equality and diversity - especially in leadership positions. The biggest frustration I've faced is not being taken as seriously as my male counterparts, or feeling that my thoughts were being tolerated vs. listened to. It's forced me to learn how to speak louder and do that extra due diligence in finding new ways to present my thinking in a way that makes everyone sit up and listen.
I've found it helpful to talk to, and learn from, other people who have gone through similar experiences in this industry. Surrounding myself with a network of strong women has helped me tremendously in my career, especially when it comes to navigating gender-biased situations. I think Madeleine Albright said it best, “There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." It's important that we lead by example in this respect, and women supporting women is a great step in continuing to break down the barriers we still face today and teach others that success comes in every size, shape, color and gender.
Juliette Richey: Women in production are challenged to expand their knowledge set to include the constant shift and spread of technology. It won’t be enough to call upon years of photo and video skill to make a commercial or film for clients. Experienced, professional women in production are also the first to be affected by economic downturn in the industry. As we push the conversation about diversity on production sets for women and people of color, although it signals virtue, it perpetuates the pay gap disparity since, simultaneously, budgets continue to shrink. Creating opportunities for women should and will always be important, but as the pay for their role decreases, the industry should be held accountable and reevaluate these pay structures. As women are given more responsibility, the challenge is making sure that they are paid accordingly.
What advice would you have for women looking to enter the creative and/or advertising industry?Christy Pregont: Advocate for yourself. Whether that is for the role you want, the work you want to be on, your salary or who you are working with--find the ways to advocate for yourself and keep doing it.
When it comes to the creative work, especially if you have a student book, get as much variety in there as you can. Stretch yourself and show that your range of ideas, and your voice or visual style, include different types of clients and different audiences. You can be passionate about certain verticals, but by showing range you’ll set yourself up as a well-rounded candidate and not be pigeon-holed into one type of work or just working on the brands or campaigns targeting women.
Don’t rule out the industry if you have a bad experience or aren’t set up in a place to succeed. Be open and honest about that, and find a place that is going to let you grow and have a voice, not just a seat, at the table.
Kate Black: Have a respectfully bold point of view. When you're first starting out in this industry, speaking up and vocalizing your opinion may be scary. But what's even scarier is not having one at all. Add value with your thinking every chance you get - don't just talk to hear yourself speak, rather say something that leaves zero doubt where you stand on a certain subject and moves the conversation forward, or spark new thinking with an educated and well-informed thought. Empower yourself to have a voice.
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