Launched to coincide with International Women’s Day this year, MadeBrave and Wunderman Thompson are among the agencies to come up with an initiative to support women in the creative industries.
Responding to the gulf in real-world communication caused by the pandemic, strategy brand agency MadeBrave has set up a networking and advisory initiative for emerging women creatives, whether they’re graduates, self-taught, or junior professionals. They will have access to the agency’s talent across production, creative, marketing, strategy and PR.
“Self-promotion is not a new thing. After all, the creative industry is built upon differentiation,” says MadeBrave creative director Paloma Pini-Reed, who is among the employees available for networking and advice throughout March. “However, the age of the ‘personal brand’ is very much upon us, and emerging creatives are being challenged to have their careers in order from the get-go. At the same time, the pandemic has made it difficult for new talent to build out their networks, which can be vital sources of work, advice or support.
“The past 18 months have put on hold the future of the creative industries. Not least the trajectories of young women creatives who often don’t reach out to professional women in the industry for fear of bothering us or simply assuming we are far too busy. But what they forget is that we’ve all been there before,” continues Pini-Reed. “And for me, I was lucky enough to be told early on in my career that persistence is key.”
Pini-Reed argues that mentoring can help emerging creatives “pick up the good habits from the start”, and says that can be achieved through a number of routes – from official mentoring schemes (she namechecks Who’s Your Momma?) to simply reaching out to someone you admire in the industry. “What’s the worst that could happen, if you just ask? They say no? Doubtful. Or you get your own career-navigator, confidante and advocate.”
Creative tech agency Wunderman Thompson has unveiled an app for internal peer-to-peer mentoring called Magpie. The platform was conceived by Helen Lee, the agency’s head of new business and marketing, and senior planner Rebecca Pinn, who both lead Rise – the agency’s pre-existing network for women.
Staff members looking for advice will be able to search for potential mentors through a directory by name, role or specific issues and specialisms, which range from more personal areas – such as motherhood or stress management – to upskilling in areas like leadership and personal brand building. Based on findings that mentoring relationships are harder to come by among women, the service will be available to women at the agency for the time being, with a view to expanding availability to the entire agency in due course.
Magpie is designed to complement other mentoring schemes in the industry rather than replace them altogether, and promises an ad hoc, informal take on mentoring – an approach that’s proving increasingly successful among young people. “Magpie gives our women not just one mentor but numerous, ensuring greater relevancy and fostering more relationships. In fact, we don’t even like to think of it as ‘mentoring’ at all,” says Lee. “That’s far too formal!”
“After our period of physical isolation and with some wonderful new faces at the agency, there’s a real appetite for us to help facilitate relationships, and we think Magpie is going to be a real asset,” Pinn adds. “There is nothing quite like this in the industry, ditching the application forms and not forcing people to commit to a long-term process if that’s not right for their situation. It’s the epitome of peer-to-peer mentoring.”
Whatever the avenue, Pini-Reed at MadeBrave feels that supporting women coming up through the ranks is not just a question of courtesy, but that it’s incumbent on creatives to do so. “Agencies and professional women in our industry have a responsibility to start that conversation, because back in the day someone gave them their time. Surely it’s time to pay it forward?”