#Culture

Women's History Month 2022

We’re honoring Women's History month with a special episode of the pod – We have some amazing women across our dentsu media agencies join us to share their perspective of being a woman in business, including the opportunities and breaking the biases.

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Hi everybody, and welcome back to The Human Element. Carat's podcast focused on finding ways to inject humanity and insight into modern marketing. Today, we have a very special edition of the pod. In honor of Women's History Month, we have some amazing women across our dentsu media agencies join us to share their perspective of being a woman in business, including the opportunities and breaking the biases. So let's kick it off.


Cara Lewis, Chief Investment Officer, dentsu Media

Q: What's the single biggest opportunity women have in our industry?

I think what we've seen over the last several years, and it's it makes me super happy to see it is that women are leaders and they can be leaders. And I think that the biggest opportunity is to always, you know, set yourself up that there will be failures, but always know that their successes and that women will be taking over the C suite. And I don't say that in in a positive and or negative way, I think that we should be there. And we should have our stance, and we have voices, and they're being heard that.

Q: What brands are engaging female audiences Well?

I kind of hit home with women brands that I see, you know, from a Nike to, you know, a bumble which I would never be on Bumble at this point since I'm married. But there's so many different brands that I think just speak to women that there's probably too many names to mention. But I always go back to Nike for some reason. It just it speaks to me, but I also am like a sneaker fanatic. So that's probably why.

Q: Is there a woman or male ally you model your leadership to?

I'm going to take one from my brother's playbook. And I actually probably say I pieced together a bunch of women in my life. I don't think I have like one that I model after but I take the qualities that I think make the best me and I modeled myself after that. I don't think it's one woman I take some things that I love about my mom some things I love about my first boss, some things I love about a friend, some things I love about a certain code that I had in the past. And I think that's how I modeled my leadership.

Q: How do you highlight or give other women the opportunity to highlight their intersectional identities?

I think you should always just make sure that the intersectionalities of yourself or yourself, I try to tell people like be your own advocate, be yourself and that trueness will come out.

Q: If you were to write your own autobiography. What would the title be?

Warrior in pink.

Q: What bias do you choose to break this year?

I really want to break the bias of I think gender equality, right. I think we are in a world where that should just not exist at this point. And I think everything in life isn't created fair. But gender equality isn't about fairness. It's about the world we live in and the people that surround us.

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Kai Weidie, SVP, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, dentsu Media

Q: What's the single biggest opportunity women have in our industry?

What comes to mind for me is changing out what we what we've seen and been brought up to think is tradition, or is the right way to do any given thing, including leading or anything else. And changing that to fit the ways of work that we value and the ways of communicating and exchanging information that we value, the more we can disrupt that a little bit those standards that also make us feel like imposters half the time, the better off we'll be.

Q: What brands are engaging female audiences well?

I am a Nike Stan, you know, I've always been that way. And I think they do a really great job of being inclusive of not just body types. But you know, just the the broader swath of women that we're seeing participating in, in sports and all different types of sports. So whether that's more black people in the pool, which you know, I grew up swimming, or if it's women Hijabs who need to have their hair covered. I love everything that Nike is doing there.

Q: Is there a woman or a male ally, you model your leadership to?

No, I think it's more any leader that has told me and this sort of goes back to my first answer. It's told me that there is no one way to do it. That's always what I keep in mind.

Q: How do you highlight or give other women the opportunity to highlight their intersectional identities?

You know, I have a unique opportunity to do this. And in the work that I do it being diversity, equity and inclusion, so I'm always sort of, sort of looking for that. And, you know, I think just like, when you meet anyone you don't know, you don't know everything about about them right on sides. So when I ask them a question, you know, I try to give them the space to answer it from whatever place that they think is not just relevant, but that they have an opinion on. So trying to create that space and and admitting what I don't you know, hey, like, Chelsea, I know that you are a woman that works here at dentsu, but like, I'd love to sort of get your take on whatever this is, from your lived experience. And that's a great way to put it lived experience.

Q: What bias do you choose to break this year?

You know, this is the senior most role I've ever had. So, I think I am constantly sort of challenging my approach to leadership, whether that's managing other people, or thinking about my own path or my own visibility, there's no one way to do that. And, you know, going back to where we're talking about with space, I can take up space, the way I think is most effective, and whether that means effective for my role, or, you know, I hate to talk about self-promotion, but you have to, I find that you kind of have to do that. I am breaking the bias as it relates to the traditional approach to that, I start to convince myself of everything I just said.

Q: If you wrote your own autobiography what would the title be?

Happy to be here.

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Christina Lu, SVP of Strategy, Carat

Hi, my name is Christina Liu. And I'm the Senior Vice President of Strategy here at Carat. I think that the single biggest opportunity women have in our industry is to support each other. And I think lift one another up. And let me give you a good example of why I think and say that, when I was much younger in my career, and this was not to date myself, maybe a decade ago, I went to another more senior woman for advice on how to grow my career and anything that she had to help me advance. And she actually told me, quite surprisingly, to pick a male mentor. And that because they had more power and influence, they would be able to kind of get me a lot farther in my career than any other woman would. And it was really interesting coming from another woman to tell me that because she said, that's kind of what helped her. And I think that today, it's dramatically shifted and changed. And so that's why I would say the single biggest opportunity women really have is to build each other up and really support one another.

Q: What brands are engaging female audiences as well?

A couple comes in mind, but I think one of my favorite ones is Third Love. I'm not sure if you've heard of them or not. But in case you haven't, that's a female founded company. They have undergarments as their products and they stand for body positivity. They offer different kinds of size, inclusive bras and even half sizes. So today, they've even expanded their products from just that to loungewear, sportswear, sleepwear. So they're doing really well and I think the reason that they're doing so is because they're connecting with women in a way that is much more authentic to speaking with them. As you know, culturally, there's been a lot of progress which is good on topics of gender roles sexuality, what to expect a woman but for some reason the more undergarments or lingerie business hasn't really kept up with that curve. So by I think embracing and building up a brand that stands much more for connecting with women, regardless of their shapes, size, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc, you can really speak to how unique people are and make people feel thatyour product actually connects really well uniquely with them.

Q: Is there a woman or male ally you model your leadership to?

Yeah, I would say actually, my very first boss was a really great mentor and leader, he really kind of galvanized the entire team behind him, because he had a lot of standard principles. I think that not many leaders show, at least in my experience, unfortunately, I haven't had that kind of leadership aside from that very first role. And what he really demonstrated was integrity, transparency, he put his team first, he cared about you, and you truly felt that he cared about your personal growth, your personal mentor, like mentoring you and guiding you the best way he could. That really spoke volumes to me. And because it left such a great impression. That's really what I tried to model my leadership after. So I think today, there's many ways in which you can highlight or give other women this opportunity to highlight their intersectional identities. One of the ways that I've been really coming into I think, feeling comfortable with that is recently, unfortunately, some of the events that for example, happened last year with a lot of the Asian hate crime against, especially Asian women, what I have found was that at my own company, it was really great to find a group where we kind of promoted each other and talking to each other in a very safe and comfortable space about how it makes us feel. There's a lot of interesting dynamics happening here, especially because from an Asian culture perspective, you don't really talk a lot about that. And it's kind of brushed under the rug, or you're told to assimilate, especially women are told to, you know, just kind of keep their heads down and, and be quiet and not really make too much of a fuss. So I think that by empowering people to feel safe in an environment to actually share their feelings, especially a lot of them for the first time because they grew up in a environment, whether it be their parents or families where didn't really support that as much just from a cultural stemming perspective, it was really able to help be helpful and enable other women to express that.

Q: If you wrote your own autobiography, what would the title be?

I think the title would be "staying true". And I want to give it a little story here where I'm Chinese American, and my Chinese name, if you were to literally translate it, it translates into something that means along the lines of truth, genuine, honesty. And so what I've actually found through life is that in all my different experiences, whether it be going through college, getting my first job building community, mentoring other people, you have to really be true to not only yourself, but I think really true to others. And in having that authentic engagement experience connection. That's how you can really truly build relationships, as well as yourself.

Q: What bias do you chose to break this year?

So the bias that I'm choosing to break this year is having even more of a stronger voice. I think in the past few years, I've definitely worked on being able to find my voice, voice my opinions and express myself. However, it's interesting coming into a new company and with a new team and with a new client. I'm trying to learn a little bit more about really owning my voice in my opinion. Of course, I have, you know, a lot of experiences. And I have to remind myself like, I actually am really smart. And I have a lot to add. But it's really interesting how sometimes it's hard to to find your voice and how a lot of people, especially women are taught to be perfect before they say anything. But you can honestly voice things sometimes in the form of a question or not being so matter of fact.

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Leah Meranus, Chief Media Officer, dentsu X

Hi, I'm Leah Meranus. So I'm the Chief Media Officer at dentsu X. If I had to single one out, I would say our biggest opportunity and really responsibility in our industry is to champion mentor and pull up other women. What's that Madeleine Albright quote? Like there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women. Right? I really believe that. So, I mean, I have to say, I'm reaffirmed by the number of women in leadership positions that I continue to see in marketing and advertising. So definitely progress there. But the next step is to intentionally champion and pull up more women of color. I think we can all agree that we're still seeing a lot of underrepresentation. I use that word intentional, very deliberately, right? We need to openly communicate our objectives and hold ourselves accountable to them. And that's by doing things like more diverse hiring and recruiting practices, as well as personally stepping up to mentor sponsor and provide career counseling and advocacy for these women.

Q: What brands are engaging female audiences well?

As a mother of two young girls, I'm optimistic about how women are being portrayed in advertising, especially by the beauty and fashion industries, which I think we can all agree historically might not have been leaning towards inclusivity. You know, when I was growing up, there was a certain type of woman that you'd see in ads that been perfect model with a beautiful flowy hair, you know, and I get to say that as the curly haired girl, and now we're living in this curated social world behind filters, you know, I really think about the impact that's going to have on my girls, and how real girls and women are portrayed in advertising, I think is maybe even more important. So I appreciate brands like P&G and Unilever championing for us curly haired girls and us the women who are not a size two and for the teen and youth targeted brands like airy even who ensure that girls are seeing real girls in their ads.

Q: Is there a woman or male ally you model your leadership to?

I always go back to my mom. As cliche as it is. She's just been such an amazing, wonderful role model and impact on my life. Even though she wasn't a business leader until well into her 50s When she decided to start working. For me, it was learning from her through her behaviors and life, right and being a leader in life for lack of ending community. And it's, it's about being authentic, being kind and genuinely helping others. I do believe that what goes around comes around and supporting people and because you genuinely want to we'll always come back around and we'll bring out the best in other people. And I think that's one of the most important leadership lessons we could learn.

Q: If you wrote your own autobiography, what would the title be?

I would name it, "wasn't how I planned," which is just about not everything being in your control. I think the younger me had this plan laid out for my life, where I would go to school and where I would live and what I would do and when I would marry and how many kids I would have and when and, and I'll tell you, most of those things did not happen as planned. And I think that's the beauty of it. Because other amazing and wonderful things did happen. And I wouldn't trade them for the world, even the disappointment along the way. And what I thought was heartache put me on another path that got me where I am. And that's pretty awesome.

Q: What bias do you choose to break this year?

This year, and I will continue to choose to break this bias, that women are emotional. I believe that women are passionate, and that we equally make sound decisions from logic, reason, business acumen and empathy.

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Danielle Gonzales, CEO, iProspect North America

Hi, my name is Danielle Gonzales, I am the CEO of iProspect North America. To me, the biggest opportunity is really just changing the industry. And realizing the power and the influence we have as people to change the industry for a better world whether that means better for working moms better for people coming into advertising, who maybe hadn't thought of that before, it was only thinking about more traditional areas. Women have a voice. We are the majority in so many cases, but we act like a minority still, which is boggles my mind. Like 70% of the leadership out iProspect are women. We have the largest voice, we need to be using it. And I think that's the opportunity I see is we are the change. And that's something that I encourage all of us, including you miss Chelsea to embrace.

Q: What brands are engaging female audiences well?

I find the brands that are engaging female audiences the best are brands who have recognized their success depends on delivering females. So a company like Athleta, I don't know if you've, I've just been so impressed with them lately. They're doing so much for women empowerment for helping girls on up to women recognize their inner strength and become powerful, whether it's running, if it's spiritually if it's with yoga, if you go to their website, you'll see like amazing new line extensions and collabs with fierce women partners, like they have one with Alicia Keys right now. I just feel like the companies who see their future and their success is based on women empowerment, as being the companies that I gravitate to. And I think that they're going to be super successful.

Q: Is there a woman or male ally you model your leadership to?

Yes, I would say there's two women in my life right now that I'm modeling their behavior and this is gonna sound so corny because they are within dentsu. But it's Wendy Clark and Amanda Morrissey. Amanda is the CEO of iProspect global, and she is about half my size. She's a tiny little thing. And she is fierce. I mean, she knows digital better than anybody else. She knows how to collaborate. She is making waves and changes and transforming the group. She's a mother of four fully grown women. And she just has this mindset and approach that I think has so much empathy. And I love the way that she leaves that I just find her absolutely fascinating to work with. And I'm modeling her behavior. And of course, we have Wendy because I think of one day not only is Wendy a female in this business that's dominated by men at her level. She's working in the Japanese culture as well, that has, I would say embracing female leadership in a larger way than then maybe the culture traditionally has. And to see her operate and be able to navigate across, across generations across bridges across country minds. Doing it so eloquently. She's amazing.

Q: If you wrote your own autobiography, what would the title be?

Crazy Lady? I like, I say, I'm crazy all the time in crazy good way. Like I think crazy is good. I'm one of those people that is always coming at problems and situations sideways. I come in with a different perspective. And sometimes I'm like, How does nobody else see this? And then I realized that my, I'm just programmed a little bit differently. And I think what the world sees is like, She's crazy. Like, I'm not the normal, typical person. I'm the weirdo. And that's okay. Like I've, I've always felt a kinship to Gonzo from the Muppets. Because he's a weirdo as like, that's me. Like, I just kind of look at the world a little bit differently. So my autobiography would absolutely be like, crazy lady, or weirdo.

Q: How do you highlight or give other women the opportunity to highlight their intersectional identities?

I think you first have to listen for it. So we've been really private women have been very private. I remember a day when I couldn't tell my boss, I needed to go to my child's recital, I had to say I have an offsite meeting. Because there was not the receptivity to talking about my family, right? Or talking about the things that I needed as a person. Most of the times we keep those suppressed as women and one of my job's is to let people talk, ask them questions, listen, hear their story, and celebrate that. And help them bring that into everything that they're doing. I recently found that there was a person on our team who got their citizenship. I went bonkers. You know how hard it is to get your citizenship, it is so hard to pass a test that even like locals cannot do. And that's a small story, but like celebrating that listening to them. It was a reason why they couldn't travel. I was like, Are you kidding me? Like that is such a good reason. Let's talk about that. Let's share it publicly. Let's get everyone excited for you. And I think it's just listening to people and then helping them amplify and letting them know it's good to share. And then the world falls more in love with those people and clients want to work with people who are sharing the whole self. So yeah, my job is to listen and sort of amplify and get people talking where they normally don't.

Q: What bias do you choose to break this year?

I'll say it's a bias. I'm trying to get iProspect to break. I prospect has a has a very specific way that we've done things in the past. And we have categorized people based on their experiences. And I'd like to break the experience bias. I know that sounds a little while but I don't want to typecast people type. If you are like a social person you can only ever do social. I want to break the experience bias to ensure that we're giving every one of our people the biggest opportunities, the juiciest projects. And if you birth experience bias, it's a more comfortable way for people to kind of break the demographic or gender bias or race bias without going at it directly. Because nobody will say that they're making decisions that are not based on some merit, or experience. But is that experience kind of trapping people and if you can say Let's break the experience bias and get everyone to try something new. You're actually helping like to step away but you're helping to get women more involved. You're helping LGBTQ+ have different opportunities that they haven't had before. You're giving different people experiences and so that's something that I'm I'm going after, and I hope it's working. It's like instead of going directly after it, it's coming after it from from the side. Again, we're doing allergy to make it

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Stephanie Spelbrink, VP, Group Director, Digital Planning, Carat

Hi. I am Steph Spelbrink. I am a VP Group Director overseeing digital activation on Microsoft. So I think the single biggest opportunity that women have in this industry is really putting that human element into the day to day. It's relating to people focusing on empathy, leading by example, and mentoring. A way that I like to lead by example, is being unapologetic about having priorities outside of work. I have a toddler, he has to get picked up, I have to leave every day. There's no ifs, ands, or buts around it. And I try to show my team that they themselves are also empowered to do the same.

Q: What brands are engaging female audiences well?

Yeah. So brands that really engage female audience, typical one I'd say is dove. The one that really has captivated me recently is Adidas. They just came out with a sports bra campaign. And really, it was a bit of a shocking picture with just a lot of different chests. And it was really all about removing the shame of diversity. And I felt that it really spoke to me as a woman where I said, Wow, we don't all look like a supermodel. This is something that I could get behind. So I thought that it was really purpose driven. And I felt connected to that campaign.

Q: Is there a woman or male ally, who model your leadership to?

Not quite modeling leadership too, but I do really like Beyonce, she came out with this quote, she said, "power is not given to you, you have to take it", I have been at Carat for the majority of my career, it is a very large organization. And I have found that if you really don't take the action yourself, you can kind of get lost. So I try to focus on empowering my team, which is largely female, to be proactive, to elevate their internal brand personas, to volunteer for opportunities, and to get out of the day to day, so that they can figure out what is right for them. And for their career, you know, a great way to really just highlight and give women an opportunity that I found is by providing opportunity. And with that on my digital teams, I host a monthly digital meeting, where we play presentation games, people have the opportunity to work on their creative thinking, their storytelling, their presentation skills, to their peers. So it's really not as scary as presenting directly to a client. And then what I like to do as well is to ask people to think of an innovation topic, something that interests them, doesn't have to be related to media, and come up with their own research, their own presentation, and their own theme for how they want to present it to their peers. And we've had some really interesting one about robots in the food industry, we've done some typical innovation around, you know, dove and other brand campaigns. But good ideas can really come from anywhere. And I'd love to see what people come back with. And it's a monthly theme that everyone on my team knows that they get to speak about. So my autobiography would be "I make lists to cross things off". I find that for myself, I like to feel a sense of accomplishment. And sometimes in the swirl of the day to day that doesn't always come through particularly when you're overseeing a lot and a lot is dependent upon other people's output. So I do like to add completed items to my list so I can cross them off and and feel good at the end of the day.

Q: What bias do you choose to break this year?

As a digital activation specialist. I think a bias that I really want to break is how we target media. So, we get amazing insights on our consumers. about their place their consumer journey where they are in their life. And then when it comes to targeting, we do very large buckets, women, moms 18 to 54, and have purchased something in the last six months. To me, I, I really would like to change the way that we think about targeting that bias that a mom is a female, she could be any age range, and she's interested in my product. She's not she could be 18, she could be 54. It could be two dads, and there's no mom who makes the purchase decision. We've talked a lot about personalization. And then with targeting, we tend to fall back on your typical broad audience segments. And I really want us to take those insights and connect it more to activation so that we are focusing on that real consumer.Finding the intersectionality’s yes.

Q: What have you felt underestimated in and continuing to overcome?

That women, by definition, are bossy, I am a leader. I have experience, I have the knowledge to make my decisions. It is because I know what I'm doing. And I've been in my position long enough. It is not because I'm coming from an emotional place or that I'm bossy. That's a bias that I continually feel like I have to overcome even with male and female direct reports.

Thank you to all of our amazing guests today for joining and celebrating Women's History Month with us. We're inspired by each and every one of you. And thank you again for listening to another episode of the human element. You can find us anywhere you can find your pods give us a like, subscribe or send us a note. We'll be back out to you real soon and in the meantime, be well.

Exploring how insight and humanity impact modern marketing to build stronger brands. Join us every other Monday as we invite industry leaders to discussions around the way marketers connect, communicate and influence consumers.

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