If building Cement was my first professional calling, I have found my second – inspiring, connecting and learning from other women in digital media and marketing.
Last April after the success of our first Cement Digital Mixer, I couldn’t shake another idea to host one specifically for women. Why though? Was this a crazy notion? We are treated fairly in most workplaces, sure. We are ascending in our careers, albeit not as quickly as men, but at a pretty fast clip. We love what we do and are overall fairly satisfied in our positions. So why then?
Because there is something I have experienced personally and still see every day. Men continue to dominate leadership positions within our industry and on the client side within organizations. Okay, fine, we all know this. Clearly men have hundreds of years ahead of us on that one. But there are other persistent issues including, sexual harassment in the workplace, unequal pay, unpaid family leave, barrier to promotion for young mothers or soon to be mothers, silencing in the board room or the rampant mansplaining interuptus syndrome. One of my personal pet peeves.
There so much left to do.
Another thing that’s always gotten my goat. Men use each other to network. They’ve been doing it forever. Blatantly they call on each other for favors. Why? Because this is okay, favors are awesome. For women though, it is perceived as a sign of weakness. Not by others, mind you, but by ourselves and each other. For women, we are often too busy competing with each other instead of building each other up. And at the end of the day, women have a harder time asking for help.
Don’t misread me here guys. I love you. I love to itty bitty bits and pieces. And I don’t want to tear my bra off and tell men to go to Hell. No, not at all. I think you would all agree that we are all – women and men – still transitioning to this women being full-time in the workforce thing. After all, we’re really only 50 years in to this shift. And, ladies, we need to take some cues from the guys.
We need to lean on each other.
Why can’t we have our own organization, with some exclusivity, that allows us the ability to call on a powerful network of friends for advice and counsel or flat out favors in the way of new job recommendations or business acumen in a time of need?
We just need a little push and for someone to say, “let’s do this, we have to do this and it’s okay to do this.”
In May, I was happy to give it a little push. I posted an invite to the first Columbus Women in Digital event on LinkedIn and on Facebook. I then shared the post with a few key stakeholders, women who I had consulted prior to the event like Linda Lolla, the Digital Marketing Manager, Social Media at Big Lots and Carli Lanfersiek the Senior Marketing Manager at Nationwide Realty Investors. I also sent the event around to a dozen or so other connections and then something remarkable happened. Over the course of the first 48 hours, half of the tickets were gone. Within a few weeks all 100 tickets were spoken for, so we added another 15. And then they disappeared.
Having planned the first event in a bit of a vacuum and with no budget for a keynote speaker, I volunteered myself to break the ice.
When everyone started arriving at the early hour of 8:00 am for their mimosas and networking, I felt the energy. There was excitement, anticipation and a “please, let this be awesome” feeling. And then, I just started in. I told my story. The entire story. From my early days in radio to the creation of my own advertising and digital agency as a single mother.
In all of my years of public speaking, never before have I felt so connected with an audience. My trials and tribulations, the details of the story, I will save for another post. But the conclusion is what mattered the most.
My story is inspiring, yes, for sure. But, it was also incredibly hard to get here. And that’s not okay. Women in digital marketing need a voice, they need an organization and together, with our specific focus on this industry, we can institute change. One by one. Day by day. Meeting by meeting.
We are so incredibly overwhelmed by the response to the first event and are planning the second, creating a board and seeking out sponsors for future events. For any and all questions visit http://www.columbuswomenindigital.com.