Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018
Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
I’m Skyler Mattson, Managing Director at WONGDOODY. I’m also a Co-Founder of June Cleaver Is Dead, a consultancy within the agency working directly with marketers to reach moms in more meaningful ways. It’s not only important for brands to get on board with better advertising to a key demographic but is a passion project for me with my third job title being Mom to three active and crazy sons under the age of 8.
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
Baby-sitting! When it comes down to it, business is all about managing different personalities and keeping the bloodshed to a minimum. You want people around you to be motivated and have fun, but sometimes they need to know who’s boss so everyone eats their vegetables and no one gets their eye poked out.
What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?
When more women are in senior executive positions (in any industry) there’s more focus and more harmony and more inclusion. I think women leaders seek other people’s perspectives and foster an environment where everyone has an equal voice. And oftentimes women are more approachable than men, which creates a very direct dialogue between a female manager and her team. I would say the greatest challenge for women in reaching management positions is motherhood, and the pause many of us take to have children. Few agencies have policies that support new moms, like generous parental leave, or pumping facilities. Flex time or even a reasonable work life balance is also a challenge. Because of this, when we come back to work it can be tricky figuring out how to show up as our best selves at the office and at home.
From Like A Girl to Fearless Girl, a raft of advertising campaigns have set out to empower women. How do you feel about these campaigns? Can they change attitudes within the industry?
I’m inspired by these campaigns and it makes me happy to see them in the world and be acknowledged at awards shows. They are smart and they were the right thing to do for the business challenge they were looking to solve. But I don’t think they are changing attitudes within the industry. That won’t come from campaigns, it has to come from the leaders in the industry and how they hire and create a culture where women and men are given equal opportunities to succeed. I’d love to see specific initiatives that actually empower women; like equal pay audits and policies, support for parents, specific written goals for hiring and promoting women and people of color. We need to start holding ourselves accountable in real, verifiable ways.
How have the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements played out in the advertising sector? Are they making a significant impact?
I don’t know that they are making a significant impact yet. But they are giving more women the confidence and platform to speak up when things are not as they should be. And hopefully, they are scaring the men who have gotten away with harassment and hostility to women for too long, and creating a new awareness in the young men entering the workforce.
Initiatives such as Free The Bid are trying to create more opportunities for women in advertising. But what could be done at a more grass roots level to attract women in the first place?
So many things! Women leaders in advertising should be speaking at high schools and career fairs. There should be more Women in Advertising Scholarships. The ad trades should celebrate kick-ass women (at every level) so their stories can inspire the next generation.
Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
I have an incredible amount of gratitude for Tracy Wong and Ben Wiener, the Chairman and CEO of WONGDOODY. Our agency supports diversity of all types and celebrates a creative democracy, where everyone has an equal voice. Our exec team is 50% female, including our Executive Creative Director. I realize I’ve been given the opportunity to succeed in a male-dominated industry and now it’s my job to attract more women, and support their growth into leadership positions, just as Ben and Tracy have done for me.
How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women? In a few words, what advice do you have for women entering the advertising industry?
My advice: please come. We need you. And we’re working hard to make advertising a career where your professional craft and personal ambitions can thrive.