by Taline Hasholian
President of ASV Inc.
The face of experiential marketing’s workforce has changed noticeably in the last quarter century.
When I took my first job in the industry, I was one of a few women I saw working in it. I feel blessed to have entered when I did and worked with the people I have, but I feel just as grateful about the diversity I currently see within the experiential marketing industry. Our workforce is now one where both men and women have the same opportunities to grow and ascend to management positions.
We’re seeing a shifting experiential playing field where women are playing a more pronounced role. We have edged and fought our way into leadership roles and, in holding them, have opened the door for others. But that work is far from done.
Change Is Already Happening
Evolution doesn’t just happen. We need positive reinforcement and active selection to make a change. As a female leader, I recognize the role I play in this transformation and strive every day to move it forward.
I appreciate the inclusive foundation that ASV has, as it has helped me bring that shift along. I have surrounded myself with a rock-solid team of experienced professionals who share the same mindset and are empowered to take ownership of their work and the overall direction of the company.
I’m happy to witness the ever-growing trend toward diversity industrywide with each new generation. The means through which we communicate and conduct business have evolved. Marketing, in particular, has become more ubiquitous as the internet has come to dominate. This progressive approach impacts how we think and interact, and I believe it has raised the awareness that a variety of voices exist.
Now, it’s not unheard of for Fortune 500 companies to publicly dedicate resources to improving diversity, and their efforts have enabled other agencies, organizations, and smaller businesses to do the same.
You Can Make It Happen
When I was hired at ASV in 2001, although the company was very diverse in its employee base, I was still just one of — maybe — three women with the company. Three months later, our CEO promoted me to general manager overseeing a staff that was not used to a woman in a decision-making position.
Even with that early sign of confidence, it took time and support to transform ASV to what it is today. We’ve grown and evolved into a company where any form of diversity is the norm rather than the exception — and its development is something I feel very proud to have been involved with.
What I’m trying to say is that if ASV can help break the industry’s status quo, so can you. Here are three ways to institute diversity initiatives into your company:
1. Put more seats at the table. Many companies pay lip service to diversity with fancy titles and initiatives. But real inclusion is about listening. Encourage your team to discuss company issues and share ideas so that they’ll understand that it’s OK to speak up when needed.
A vital part of giving employees a voice is about learning who they are and knowing how to listen. For example, employers and industry leaders fall short in thinking that women are most concerned about childcare when in many cases that is also a concern for their male counterparts and plays to the stigma that all women should want to be mothers.
2. Let money talk. Compensating all employees fairly should form the foundation for all the other actions you take.
Unfortunately, in the case of women, the gender pay gap is still very real. Women make 85 percent of what men do, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The marketing industry is no different. According to Marketing Week’s Career and Salary Survey 2018, male marketers earn more than female marketers in just about every level and department.
How you compensate employees tells them all they need to know about how you value and perceive them. Salaries send a message. Make sure you’re sending the right one.
3. Know that this is only the beginning. The quest for true workplace diversity is an ongoing process. While it’s important to recognize the great leaps forward, it’s just as vital to not rest on your laurels. Just because you’ve focused on people of color or women in your latest hiring round doesn’t mean your work there is done.
It takes constant awareness to keep a company healthy in diversity. Women in events have come a long way. One by one, we’ve strengthened our footing as leaders, managers, and thinkers. But we still have a long way to go. To move the needle to where it should be, we all need to continue to do our part and, more importantly, stick together.