Ad Tech needs more women in leadership positions.
Every female executive in our area has had the experience of being the only woman sitting at a professional dinner or on the stage of an industry event. Tech companies lack women in leadership and ad tech. The MINT advertising field continues to suffer from a lack of diversity among women, and especially women of skin color.
The advantages of gender diversity are obvious. Researchers find that companies with women on their boards of directors outperform more male-dominated competitors with a 66% better return on investment, a 53% higher return on equity, and a 42% increase in sales. Why shouldn’t women be equally represented or even overrepresented on your management team, especially in advertising? Women make 75% of buying decisions and an index on many of the most popular apps and websites marketers use to find customers.
In order to find women for leadership positions, companies have to be deliberate. That means men need to be proactive allies. So many areas of the ad tech industry – DSPs, measurement apps, technology providers, and analytics tools, to name a few – are dominated by men in leadership positions. We have to systematically overcome the natural tendency towards equality to give women space to sit at the table.
The first step is to focus internally. Companies have a responsibility to consider all possible native candidates in a very practical way. We need to consider who has the potential to be elevated. Sometimes that means searching the talent pool and wondering if someone can take on a role. We should be ready to keep internal employees on a little longer than usual and to support them in their growth. There are usually great people who aren’t ready for a few months to move on to the next level and who need that final growth spurt.
Let’s say you have three absolute “must-have” criteria for a managerial position that you fill. There is a candidate who ticks two of the boxes and you think you can help her fill the gap on the third. Can you give her executive coaching, mentoring, and educational resources? Rather than writing off an in-house candidate who may not check every box, imagine spending more time on mentoring to strengthen knowledge, skills, and career path for female candidates within the company.
Sometimes you have to look outside. The older the role, the smaller the pool of candidates, and in the fast-paced, fast-paced world of advertising technology, it can be tempting to hire people from resumes that come in the fastest. However, deliberately creating a diverse leadership team requires an additional level of commitment and time to make the right hiring decision. Get a buy-in from your executive team and add DEI volume targets for the number of candidates instead of focusing solely on the deadlines to be limited. We have to employ women in management positions in a targeted and measurable way, especially women of the same color. Real change will only materialize when we hold ourselves accountable to these goals. To be deliberate means not to leave one stone unturned when hiring managerial positions, either internally or externally.
Let’s also make industry events more inviting. Too often, tech conferences suffer from a culture of heavy drinking, golf trips, and, in Nevada, passionate about gambling. This type of atmosphere is intended to appeal to an exclusive group of professionals rather than an inclusive group of existing executives and emerging talent. We should offer more group activities that everyone can participate in and learn together. Given what we know about the success of women-run businesses, one can assume that the networking opportunities women create are likely to create enjoyable experiences and an inclusive environment for diverse talent.