At Kantar Consulting, we are always monitoring how major events in politics, economics and society are impacting how consumers live, and how they shape their values and needs. For this year’s International Women’s Day, we put out a call to action for brands to take charge of this conversation, regardless of whether legislation tells them to. In a moment of such global instability, your female consumers (and current and future employees) are going to be looking at you to set the tone.
The equitable discourse has plateauedIn our 2022 Inclusion Index, it became clear that the need for more equitable activities and environments is more important than ever, with 70% of our respondents agreeing that society has become more divisive over the past 10 years. As distrust in traditional institutions increases, there is mounting responsibility being placed on businesses to level the playing field.
Our insights are also revealing that DEI progress has stalled, and in some regions, dropped. Though companies that are not investing in equitable futures are not just missing the trick – they are potentially harming their brand’s growth and value among both consumers, and the category they sit in. Our Kantar BrandZ 2022 report tracked that brands that took positive action and improved their brand equity saw a 33% increase in brand value between 2021-2022 (versus 11% of those who didn’t).
“It’s an important mindset shift that what is good for employees, is also good for business. Having diversity of thought within an organisation can really improve performance,” says Natalie Vander Vorst, Managing Partner, Consulting at Kantar, “Ultimately, it’s about using your power to influence and lead with purpose and how you show up to consumers – and how that then reflects back within the organisation.”
It is then becoming clear that pausing, assessing, and re-calibrating your business is a necessity to win now, and tomorrow. So, what can progressive organisations be doing to move the needle in a positive direction and future-proof their businesses by creating fairer work environments, products and services for women specifically?
How you show up as company, internally and externally, mattersBrands often come to Kantar Consulting asking how to show up as an organisation with purpose externally, and how to translate that internally to recruit, and attract, the best talent.
Creating purposeful action publicly and internally is no easy task and takes a long-term commitment beyond quick win PR campaigns. Besides deconstructing internal bias and pledging to hire more female talent, it is about making changes on how the business, and its close partners, talk and action around the issue.
Diageo is a great example of an organisation putting equity in the heart of everything it does. Its ESG strategy has a goal of having 50% representation of women in leadership roles by 2050, and currently almost half of its global marketing team is female. In 2021, it announced its first female Master Blender in its 200-year history, which is one of the most important roles in the organisation (and industry).
Externally, it is using its creative and media spend to support progressive voices by educating its thousands of employees and agency partners on accurate gender representation through the Progressive Gender Portrayal Framework, which includes guidelines on representation, perspective (who is telling the story), agency (addressing women respectfully) and characterisation (ensuring women have the same depth and complexity as men featured in creative.)
“Progress in this area is never about one advert or one campaign – it’s about a whole culture and mindset change and we will continue to invest in progress and support minority voices in our work so that all consumers see themselves in our advertising from script to screen,” Cristina Diezhandino, CMO at Diageo, told The Drum earlier this year.
Flexibility is a win/win
Our 2021 Winning with Women report showed that during lockdown in the UK that year, women had been working 156 more hours per month than their partners to support and care of the family/household. Women were also most likely to feel the impact of the pandemic on their careers, often having to make sacrifices in order to be more at home to take care of children, while in general, 94% of primary parental leave is taken by them.
They often play more than one role, being primary parent, caring for their household or elderly parents, and flexibility is an overlooked tool that enables them to feel seen and heard.
US-based The Mom Project works with progressive companies like Etsy to put moms in the workplace through flexi employment set ups, like remote or part time, as well as work with partners to push for organisational policy change and upskilling. Getting an outside perspective to understand (and sometimes audit) what your business is doing can be a powerful way to identify blind spots and think disruptively.
Meanwhile some companies are creating equity by placing more responsibility on the secondary caregiver so to rebalance the scale: Volvo’s Family Bond policy gives all new parents, regardless of gender, 24 weeks of paid parental leave. During 2021, 70% of the employees who took the leave in its Australian outpost were fathers.
Female managers are more likely than their counterparts to believe hybrid working could negatively affect career progression (Chartered Management Institute, 2022), so the onus is on brands to change that conversation by proactively creating policies and the environment that support new ways of working.
Kantar Consulting asks: how can you prepare for a more equitable future that considers women’s needs – as consumers and employees?
Responsibility should be placed on organisations and brands to create equitable futures, but there can often be barriers slowing down this type of progress. At Kantar Consulting, we work with the core values of Always Getting Better, Making Today Count, and Winning Together and under that mindset, we encourage you to ask yourself:
Always Getting Better
- How do you identify and remove the barriers and protocols slowing down your organisation’s progress in this conversation?
- How do you create the structure to support those returning to work after a long period of leave?
Making Today Count
- How well set up is your organisation to change, and what can it already be doing now?
- How are you communicating our commitment to creating fairer environments?
- How do you encourage everyone in the business to become champions in the journey towards equity – and not just the senior leadership, for example?
- How do you level the playing field without making anyone feel alienated?
To find out more about how Kantar Consulting about how you can support women’s needs in your organisation and brand strategy, please get in touch.