Supporting International Women’s Day
An X2X Q&A
MARCH 11 2021
In honor of International Women’s Day this year, we convened a panel of women with key roles within the X2X Media Group to ask them about their experience in the media and entertainment industry from the perspective of women. We touch upon industry idols who have inspired our panel, the challenges women face on a day-to-day basis, and what these women hope to see happen in the future for females in industry.
On the panel were Lauren Rodriguez; Support Manager, Simone Clara, Support Coordinator; Abigail Major, Global HR Analyst; and Suzanne Kirkland, Senior Account Manager.
Do you have a female hero or idol, or someone who has helped you in your career path?
Lauren: I consider every female who has paved the way for women to be where we are, heroes, I could never pick just one! I have had several women in my life, personally, help me develop into the person I am so that I could be where I am.
Simone: I would say the person I idolise/look up to would be my granny. She is an absolute legend and I definitely take after her in terms of her work ethic. She came over from the Caribbean, went down the nursing career path and her hard graft is admirable.
Abigail: I don’t necessarily have an idol, but I am fortunate enough in that I have a lot of strong women in my family and in my close inner circle who guide me and who I can call on for advice on anything, career or otherwise.
Suzanne: My hero is Bozoma St. John, American businessperson and marketing executive who is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Netflix.
How do you or your company choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world?
Lauren: I think that our company has tried to be inclusive in its hiring process and is working to do an even better job of that. Last year they formed a group of employees who have been tasked with engaging the company in discussions surrounding inclusivity, discrimination, and inequality in the workplace. We also have an open forum in the form of a slack channel where we can all engage and share ideas, thoughts and have conversations about various topics pertaining to these issues.
Simone: At my company last year, we started up an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion group. This group is made up of a few folks all from our different offices (London, NY, LA, San Francisco and New Zealand) and the aim of the group is to help shape the company's culture when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion. Each person on the team has their own representation and sets a standard for what a company should look like regarding equity. We also have a Slack channel we use called engage for people to post articles, videos, spark up discussions and just a place for voices to be heard or people to learn from. How I choose to challenge things outside of work is by posting on social media regarding anything I feel strongly about. Having discussions amongst my friendship groups, with my partner or relatives. Being more open and listening to different opinions whether or not I agree.
Abigail: X2X has consciously chosen to challenge inequality by forging a Diversity and Inclusion group who partner with our Leadership team to focus on how we can ensure that we’re being as inclusive as possible in as many areas as possible. We’ve done things like bring in a speaker (Risha Grant), who talked to the business about diversity and unconscious bias, and we’ve held continued discussions across the business to encourage people to talk about their own experiences and to think about their own biases and how that may influence behaviors and attitudes. I’ve always felt since I've been with X2X that we’ve fostered an inclusive culture and we are open to feedback from our workforce on how to make things better and to ensure voices are heard and that opinions are listened to.
Suzanne: I'm a committee member for Women in Technology Hollywood. We organize a number of events each year to foster career and skill development for women in our community. We also have a mentorship program.
If you could share any advice with women in the industry, what would you want to say?
Lauren: Don't be quiet! It's never better to hold your tongue. Know your worth and make everyone aware that you know it.
Simone: We are all in this together so continue to follow your heart and share your stories so you can inspire at least one person out there. It's important we continue sharing our stories. Some people have had a positive career journey and others not so much. Some will face some real challenges some will not but by hearing different stories from people definitely helped me overcome some hurdles I may have faced in my journey.
Abigail: I would say that I think it’s clear that whilst the number of women in tech is growing, we are still not seeing the same number of women as their male counterparts coming into the industry, which unfortunately is not the case solely for the tech industry but across other sectors whilst women continue to try and bridge the gender gap divide. That being said for women coming into the industry, I would give them advice that even though they may be a minority, to seek support through companies that foster an inclusive way of working and gain support from other women in the industry who may need fellow women to guide and support each other in a male dominated industry. Mentoring is a great way to support each other and, in any industry, or situation for that matter where you're a minority, you can start to feel isolated, so by reaching out to groups and mentors who can support and share their own experiences, it can be really empowering for women to support other women in similar circumstances.
Suzanne: 1. Know your number (as in salary). 2. Speak up as much as you can.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Lauren: This isn't necessarily career advice: Don't stress out about what you cannot control. Instead, put that energy into changing what you can change.
Simone: Live your life and not someone else's.
Abigail: The best piece of advice I have been given is, ‘if you try and be the best person you can be every day, that is all the world asks of you’.
Suzanne: Life only gets busier, so be prepared to let go of things that are lower on your priority list.
What changes do you hope to see in the future for women? (e.g., Gender pay gap, more female CEO’s?)
Lauren: Women should 100% be paid equally to men for the same job. I'd like to see the gender pay gap closed. I would love to see more women in a CEO position.
Simone: The gender pay gap of course but also the pay gap of women from minority ethnic backgrounds. For LBT (Lesbian, Bi and Trans) women to no longer be silenced. To exist in a world that no longer discriminates against us.
Abigail: I hope to see more women in leadership roles and for them to share their experiences and the challenges they have faced in order to educate others. I also hope to see the face of the corporate world change to be more diverse across the board. We can’t expect more opportunities and more equality if those at the top level are not a reflection of those who are in need of greater representation.
Suzanne: Definitely more female CEOs. Beyond that, I think that the soft skills women bring to the workforce are highly undervalued. For example - mentorship should be a requirement for a promotion. If you can't effectively lead others to success, you shouldn't be climbing the ladder.
What do you do day-to-day that allows you to be aware to the challenges that women face?
Lauren: The fact that at our company men outnumber women is something that's just obvious and in my face all day long, so that's a reminder that we have a way to go.
Simone: Just having open discussions with friends whether it be on the phone, in the WhatsApp group etc. Being more open minded and educating myself whenever possible.
Abigail: Working in many male dominated environments myself and often being the only women at a board table of men, I am aware of the challenges that women often face in these scenarios. Currently I am part of a discussion group in my personal time which focuses on women's challenges in the workplace, I’m a fan of feminist literature and have led and steered D and I groups in several workplaces to ensure that the diversity of minority groups is represented. In my role at X2X I am currently working on expanding our talent pool to represent more minority groups in tech, including women in our industry as well as equal ops training.
Suzanne: I am a woman in the workforce.
What positive piece of news/change have you seen in the industry that has inspired you recently?
Lauren: I think we're seeing more and more instances in the entertainment industry where women are being moved up to big positions at studios and entertainment production companies etc. More women directors on big-budget films, more women directors on indie films that are getting recognition, more production companies being started by women - so all of that really inspires me and gives me so much hope that other industries will follow!
Simone: I feel a lot of companies are now taking steps to have a more diverse and inclusive work environment. So, these small steps will eventually lead to better change.
Abigail: I was pleased to see that Debbie Forster came first for the top 50 Influential women in tech from computer weekly - she is the CEO of a government backed initiative, the tech talent charter which aims to tackle diversity outside of London. I think this is a great example of a woman in the tech industry doing positive things to challenge the status quo. I shall also be keeping my eye out for tickets for the Women in Tech online festival in June which has up to 200 sessions and Michelle Obama as a keynote speaker.
Suzanne: Our new Vice President!