In the latest installment of our 'Women in Advertising' series, Shayna Cohen, SVP, Client Services at Laundry Service, weighs in on how we can better provide equaal opportunity in the industry and the importance of prioritizing balance.
What barriers do women still face in our industry and why are they still there?
Lack of acknowledgment is a major barrier, regarding all that women do – both inside and outside of the office. Then, in light of that lack of awareness, we’re expected to put exhaustion aside and smile with our teams, our clients, and our colleagues. We’re expected to be attentive, but not too wordy; compassionate, but not emotional; and a boss, but not bossy.
Further, many women are also pigeonholed in our industry. Beauty brands, CPG, “mom stuff…” You know the list. These barriers aren’t always intentional, but it’s how things have worked for so long that it’s often hard for leaders to look beyond and think otherwise.
How should we tackle an issue such as equal opportunity, not solely for women’s equality but across the entire DE&I spectrum?
If we want to create equal opportunity, we must voice the necessity. Nothing ever changed by waiting for something to happen; no solution was provided for a problem that didn’t get trumpeted. Being vocal about the types of talent and having diverse backgrounds on our brands is not an option; it’s a given now. Our work is stronger when we have diverse voices providing insights and human truths. So, we need to speak up when we need changes made to our industry.
What experiences did you have joining the industry?
The most stressful challenge about joining the industry was the lack of work/life balance. Successful women around me – at the most senior levels – were often if not always single.
I thought: “If I want to be an executive, I may never have time for a personal life.” I buried myself so far into my work for years, “paying my dues,” that I tried to not to focus on this. But my early 30s, I knew I needed the right balance: how to continually grow at work, while giving myself forgiveness and freedom to have a life outside. Now, I prioritize teaching my team the importance of that balance – no matter their age or relationship status – and it’s grown loyalty and morale.
Who inspires you the most and why?
Fellow mothers in the industry are the most powerful source of inspiration. Some days, we carry the weight of our work so heavy that we can’t possibly use mental capacity for our children. And other days, our kids just need us and that’s okay too. The balance is ongoing. Because I had so few women in my career who could show me that it was possible, I admire those of us who dare to now teach the future female leaders that you don’t have to make a choice – you can, in fact, have it all.