How To Champion Diverse Leadership In B2B
Decades of research has been published with evidence connecting business growth to increased diversity and representation, so why is the B2B landscape still mostly Tom, Dick and Harry?
I’m hugely honoured to be the youngest Ogilvy B2B recipient of the WACL Future Leaders Award. And though I have worked in B2B Marketing for five years, I have only just identified what I think has been a devil on my shoulder through my working life so far. That irrational voice in my head saying, “He won’t listen to you.”
When I discovered that, I immediately sought to do something about it. And here I am.
But I believe that I’m going to be the last generation to be inflicted with this mindset. The B2B marketing environment is changing in a BIG way. The space holds so much untapped potential, so many challenges yet to be faced and overcome which will require the widest diversity of thought that the industry has ever seen. People from all walks of life and a gender balance from creative output, strategic thinking to the young teams that deliver the work.
BE A LIVING EXAMPLE
B2B buyers are now expecting and demanding the same experience as B2C customers such as, a more competitive customer experience, interactions on social channels and personalised content. There are bolder uses of influencer marketing and UX optimisation based on these new customer expectations.
Authenticity is crucial!
Buyers are, after all, people. Marketing is essentially a conversation, so we will need a representation of experience and opinions that can understand infinite target business audiences. Of course, there are CTOs who are single mothers and female developer who are breadwinners, so who speaks their language?
In a room full of the WACL FLA winners, I was blown away by the pride and encouragement in the eyes of the women who put us there, who brought us all together to talk, share and WhatsApp words of wisdom to each other.
The young female generation is now braver, more outspoken and has access to more resources and support than ever before. Please use them, find an advocate and if you have something insightful to say, speak up.
GIVE IT A TRY
But how can you ensure you are heard and listened to?
Leaders should communicate a shared goal, a target that everyone can achieve which bands you together thus reducing the fear of being labelled the ‘bringer of tea’ and ‘taker of notes’.
Mentoring programs should be mandatory in every organisation to create safe systems of advocacy. Men should also not be afraid to mentor young women now that the MeToo dust has settled because if we lose that trust in each other, then 50% of the knowledge that we need is also lost.
It is great having a strong woman to look up to but having a brave man afraid of you can be your downfall. Especially in B2B, when most of your colleagues and clients are men.
Don’t be afraid to be part of something incredible. We need you to evict the irrational demon on your shoulder and find your voice.
This was originally published in B2B Marketing here.