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Equality in 2017 - I Can’t Be Bothered Either


INFLUENCER: Ogilvy's Elizabeth Dewar on what she's learned whilst kick-starting SheSays in Dubai

Equality in 2017 - I Can’t Be Bothered Either

(In case you haven’t already heard about SheSays, here’s an intro: ‘An award-winning global organisation running free mentorship and events for women in the creative industry. Why? Because we want to see more women at the top.' Here’s a link if you’d like to know more, or get in touch with your local SheSays)

Launching SheSays in Dubai has been a learning curve that I doubt is specific to where I work or what I do for a living. I need to be honest and say upfront that I really can’t be bothered to fight this battle for equality or for female leadership. I just wish it weren’t one so I could get on with my job and Netflix series.

I can’t be bothered, but I am. 

So, if like me, you also can’t be bothered but are, here’s some stuff you might find interesting that I’ve realised whilst kick-starting this subject in the Middle East.


Women in management are moles.

They haven't smashed any 'glass ceiling' – they've found a way through it. We know there are very few women in leadership positions – it’s why SheSays exists. But there are some tenacious women out there who have bored a hole for themselves up and through that glass ceiling. The women on ‘the other side’ need to stay around a while longer and help the rest of us by smashing it from above. 


So many women, so little time.

I’ve had to do a fair bit of reading and research on this subject and the more information I’ve come across, the more this issue seemed too huge and global and far away from my little desk to fix. But I’ve realised it’s actually a lot easier than it seems – for all of us. All we have to do is focus on our women – the ones who we work with right now. I’ve started to ask myself these questions regularly to make sure I’m doing my best by my women.

Do my women speak up? Are their ideas heard? Are they given credit?

Do I ‘check’ myself around my women? 

Am I known for my stance on female equality and leadership at work?

And then there are some of the bigger questions that come up over and over within the SheSays network for employers:

Do you take action on behalf of your women? 

Are you lighting the path to leadership positions for your women? 

What is your attitude and policy towards maternity leave and flexible hours for your women? Do you even have one? (Because you should) 

Are the annual reviews for your women truly reflective of their performance and fuel confidence?

Are you paying your women fairly? 

Do you make your women feel like where they work is a place where they can have a future?

If we stop focusing on ‘women’ as a gender and focus on just our women I think we stand a better chance for real change. 


There are a lot of MILFs - that’s ‘Mums I’d Like to Find’. 

I’d always noticed that the mums are MIA but turns out that those are actually the ones out there who are at senior management level. I’ve learned that unfortunately for women, that crucial professional cusp where you’re about to really advance your career coincides with some natural life milestones.

The mums I’ve spoken to feel that they haven't been shown that there’s a place for them in our industry if they require any flexibility. Considering the high percentage of briefs that are aimed at 'modern mums’, it’s becoming really awkward that we hardly have anyone around to work on them.

In a line of work that requires people to exercise empathy and understanding for others daily (and be exceptional at it) we just don’t seem to be doing a very good job by parents. The reality is that this isn’t just a 'mum-thing’ anymore; Dads aren’t too happy either.

The modern parenting style means that Dads want to be involved in their kids’ lives more than ever before. Time is precious. Not just for clients, or how time sheets are filled out, but for ‘the people’ as well. I suppose the real learning is that it’s probably better to act now and help make where you work a place that accommodates parents – before their immeasurable value and years of experience disappear off to a place that does.


Women are suckers for punishment.

We love our jobs and it’s why we’re fighting like hell to be given the tools and support to have long careers, not a short stint or an easy job based on 'circular ambition'. It’s why over 100 women turned up to the launch of SheSays in Dubai and why over 50,000 women are a part of SheSays globally. With all this ambition and drive going largely untapped, I’m curious to see who’ll be smart enough to harness it first.

I realise that this ‘stuff’ I’ve learned isn’t particularly new or insightful, nor should any of these points be aimed at just men, or managers. 

This is stuff that I’ve had to relook at myself – as a woman, who isn’t in management. Because even if some of these points may not be my problem now, they might be soon. And even though I, like many people, care deeply about life and work being fair for all, caring isn’t enough.

Realising that I have to actively do more was the biggest thing I’ve contributed to this cause so far. And as much as I’d like to sit back, do my day-to-day job and rally through eight solid episodes of Black Mirror in one sitting, I know that in the long run I’d regret not acting now.

Now that I've got that out the way, where should we start with what needs to be done for LGBT, ethnic minorities and people of colour…?

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Ogilvy UK, Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:13:32 GMT