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Study calls for more action to tackle gender equality challenge

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Brands 04.07.2018 / 16:00

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The second annual joint study on gender equality in the media and marketing industry in APAC region by Kantar and Campaign. The challenge is still there and the change is very little.

In many aspects, media and marketing industry set the trend of the society. But it is not the case in gender equality. Last year, Kantar partnered with Campaign to launch the inaugural “The State of Gender Equality in the Media and Marketing Industry in Asia Pacific”. This June, we published the second report, which covers the whole APAC region from India to New Zealand. The study interviewed 300 people in the media and marketing industry, both agency and non-agency.

Generally speaking, the gender equality challenge still exists and very little has changed.

For example, both men and women believe that people have preconceptions about their ability. However, the difference lies in the reasons why people feel they are judged. Men are more likely to believe that years of experience and their track record define their standing in the workplace, while women tend to see gender as more of a defining factor. They feel judged based on who they are, not what they have done.



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This unconscious bias permeates through to how many women believe their gender affects opportunities at work. Two thirds (66%) of women said that they thought men had more opportunities to advance their career (versus 32% of men thinking women have more opportunities), whilst 48% of women say that they have missed out on an opportunity because of their gender.

Both genders are increasingly reporting that men get more respect in the workplace – nearly half women agreeing it. The sentiment is less apparent in the agencies we surveyed, and more prominent amongst those who work in-house at brands, media owners or in tech companies or service providers.

 



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At the same time, a significant and growing proportion of women still feel that meetings are dominated by male staff. Male-dominated meeting environments were also more prevalent in Australia and New Zealand, where 45% agreed, and least apparent in Southeast Asian countries where only 15% reported it to be the case.



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One of the most notable findings this year was the reminder that gender constructs don’t just hinder women. Half of those surveyed, both men (46%) and women (49%), said that they felt the pressure to conform to gender stereotypes.

For example, female interviewees said: “Being a ‘vocal’ or ‘assertive’ female can ‘intimidate others’.” “I’ve been told to act like a woman and put some lipstick on.” A male respondent said: “Meetings with clients require being able to talk about things like basketball and football, especially as a guy. It’s what men do otherwise one’s masculinity is questionable.”

The #MeToo showcased the prevalence of sexual harassment across the world, and the results of the study painted a similar picture. Half of all women surveyed and a quarter of men reported that they have personally experienced harassment – physical or verbal – within the workplace. In addition, two in five women and one in five men said that they have observed it happening to others. In short, 53% of women and 30% of men have seen or experienced this behaviour – it is in plain sight.

The most commonly experienced form of harassment was degrading comments or sexual innuendo, with particularly high levels in countries with a more masculine office culture such as in Australia and New Zealand.



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Every cloud has a silver lining. In this report, more respondents expect their companies to do much more to address this issue. This includes a steep rise in the number of men – up 12 percentage points – who agree that their businesses should be trying harder. Tension is mounting as companies fail to act.

Men want to see more unconscious bias training and flexible working. Women want a broader range of changes – pay parity was top of the list, however the results call for a whole package of improvements, from development opportunities to flexible working practices, with many singling our remote working as a favoured option.



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Mentors were seen to make a difference - they prevent people from missing out on opportunities and help chart career progression. The results also showed a virtuous cycle around mentoring and a culture of gender equality.

Summary and action advices:

The results from this year’s study show a heightened awareness of gender inequality amongst everyone. Yet although there is more visibility of gender as an issue, it’s also clear that people feel there has been very little progress within companies in terms of culture and action.

* The unconscious is becoming conscious but behaviour has not changed. We need to talk now about specific actions and behaviours to change, such as meeting culture.

* Gender stereotypes inhibit both men and women, so creating a culture where women can succeed also helps create a culture where different versions of masculinity can thrive.

* Recognise that sexual harassment exists, and is visible, in our workplaces. Provide a safe reporting mechanism, and ensure action is taken.

* Inclusion and Diversity initiatives are still not the norm. Continue the drive to implement flexible (remote) working, unconscious bias training, and pay parity reviews.

* Mentors make a difference to people’s careers and opportunities, and contribute to a virtuous cycle of empowerment for women. Continue to invest in mentoring, particularly of leadership successors.

Source: Kantar

Editor's notes

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of marketing industry in China and other parts of the world, please contact us.

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