Adopting tactics to be taken seriously

Back Adopting tactics to be taken seriously

My second job was in the Marketing team for a management consultancy (95% male), and we then merged with a technology company, with a similar gender ratio. This was the 1990s and it was gender stereotypes all round! Previously, colleagues had seen the Marketing function as the ‘colouring in’ department, there to make brochures and look good at exhibition stands etc. But my boss, ex-BBC and an extremely smart female leader, was mixing it up bigtime. How did I navigate it? Some colleagues wielded their intellect like a missile and got angry, but I thought ‘keep your enemies closer’, and I tried uniting with people behind a shared goal or task, and then working alongside them to get to know their part of the business to get it done together. This way, I found I could show them there were better ways of marketing, promoting and storytelling… and a fair amount of skill behind how you achieved it… would they like to try it? It was more of a ‘softly softly' approach and it worked. Did I have to ‘play nice’ to get average work done in a way that male colleagues didn’t need to? Probably. Is that annoying? Definitely. But we achieved the end goal - colleagues grew to trust and respect me in a way that they found non-threatening and we improved relationships, built good marketing campaigns and I had a new network of allies all over the business that served me well.

People weren’t quite so quick to diss Marketing in the same way… and 20 years later I still work with some of these colleagues. Some now sell me to their clients as the marketing expert who adds value. Funny how things change! That said, going forward, I like to imagine a world where my daughters don’t have to work doubly hard or have to ‘play it’ a certain way to be taken seriously. It gives me hope when I hear from colleagues coming of age now, who tell me things at work are changing.

Esther is PR and Communications Specialist at 67 Bricks.