The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won their fourth title at this year’s FIFA World Cup, and the chant that broke out as they celebrated the win was fitting: a demand for equal pay. This revived a decades-long issue that women in the workforce are still grappling with today - stellar job performance that is either on par or exceeds their male counterparts, yet their wages lack behind. The Women's National Team brought in more revenue than the US men's team, while only being compensated a fraction what the men are. As a woman, I've seen this first-hand in my career, and as a leader, I strive to always be an advocate and fight for gender parity within my organization.
I’m grateful that I work for a company that not only celebrates equality but advises businesses around the world in how to achieve it through our When Women Thrive research and campaign.
What struck me while watching both the games and the subsequent coverage of the team is the sponsors and advertisers that came out with messages and campaigns rallying around women. On its surface, this is excellent in furthering equality. But, many of these companies have been in the news previously for unequal pay scales, lack of diversity on boards or in leadership roles, or toxic treatment of women in their workforce.
For as many slogans and ads celebrating women by companies that do stand behind their values, there are as many that are doing the same while not standing by their own workforce. Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning when it comes to spending their money and even more so when it comes to where they work.
Customers are demanding values, not platitudes. Brands need to look at making these campaigns more than an opportunity to jump on a trending topic and have it serve as a way to authentically educate prospective customers on what you stand for.
This requires marketing to extend beyond external campaigns and customer-focused discussions by aligning key messages and creative ideas to internal culture and mission. This extends the life of campaigns while also engaging employees, enabling them to act as brand ambassadors.
My colleague, Pat Milligan shared her perspective on this topic in Voice on Growth. In her piece on gender balance, she notes that many organizations are realizing the importance of gender equality within their business to unlock innovation, yet they often are slow to progress due to four major obstacles.
With marketing budgets shrinking, increased competition, the war on talent raging, can you afford the risk of taking on an important social issue in a campaign and have consumers see right through it?