Make space to listen, connect, and celebrate women in the industry

In this competitive industry, it's imperative to lift each other up

кем India Fizer , AdForum

RAPP Worldwide
Маркетинг / Творческие услуги
New York, United States
See Profile

Dawn Serra
SVP Head of Talent RAPP

RAPP’s SVP Head of Talent, Dawn Serra, weighs in on making the industry more inclusive through community building, mentoring, and providing support and flexibility.


In what ways can women in advertising pave the way for or support younger women hoping to break into advertising?  

I’m proud of the inroads the industry has made in recent years to really highlight the power of community building, the importance of women lifting other women up, and how we’ve created more open forums to talk about the things that we are all experiencing as women. I think it will always be an industry that’s competitive, fast-moving, and sometimes unpredictable. But there’s a good amount of space for genuine compassion, listening, connecting, and celebrating women more these days. And I hope younger women know this about ad land. 

We need to show up as role models for younger woman in the workplace – that means speaking up, being authentic, saying what’s on our mind – EVEN if we aren’t asked. So if we find ourselves in a room full of men who greet each other with the familiar “hey man (or dude, or gents)” we must resist the tendency to try to assimilate; Or even worse off, be quiet as a result. We need to be ourselves and speak our minds and lean in with confidence despite it. 

I think it’s also critical to continue to talk about what it’s like to balance caregiving responsibilities while also growing a career. I’m lucky to have a partner who shares the caregiving equally, but know that not all women do, and that we women generally take on more caregiving responsibility. This can really take a toll. We need to acknowledge this, make it safe to talk about in the workplace, and provide the right support in terms resources and flexibility.


How does your experience as a woman in marketing inform your work?

I’ve had the privilege of working in a Talent partner role within the advertising space for the last 25 years. I’ve loved being both a formal and informal mentor to so many young woman over the years who have experienced some of the same challenges I had earlier on in my career. I love coaching and mentoring up-and-coming leaders to share ideas with more confidence, to trust their own gut, to tune into the things they are telling themselves that are holding them back, and to be more comfortable stepping out of their comfort zones. In many ways, becoming a mother 11 years ago was crash course lesson in how to create boundaries,  how to get comfortable with saying no, and how to quickly shift gears. All of this experience and being a mother has also helped me better relate to others, keep things in perspective, and ultimately be more balanced, and think I’ve been able to lead by example in this regard as well.


Gen Z is a generation of digital pioneers and has shifted the framework of many industries. How have this new generation of young women impacted the advertising industry and where do you anticipate they will improve the workplace going forward?

Gen Z women will improve the workplace in various ways -- they are resourceful, quickly get to the root of issues, and easily identify solutions, all while never overcomplicating! I’ve really enjoyed working with my Gen Z colleagues, and learn a lot from them. I’m inspired by their direct and resourceful approach, their ability to work independently, how much they can quickly learn about a topic – and most importantly, how they expect the company they work for to stand up for what is right!