You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Liz Wilson, Karmarama & Accenture Interactive

Overall there hasn’t been enough change. But bringing together different people with varied experiences of the world always leads to better, more inclusive ideas.


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To mark International Women’s Day, AdForum is gathering opinions from women working in advertising and marketing communications. We asked women from a range of job roles both agency- and client-side, for their view of the state of the industry.


Liz Wilson
COO Karmarama & Accenture Interactive


How would you describe the overall culture at your agency / company?

Karmarama’s culture is very special. As you’d expect it’s based on karma - doing the right thing and having faith that what goes around comes around. It’s the main reason we’re the highest-ranking creative agency in Sunday Times Best Companies again this year, which is our favourite award as it’s for all of our people and the culture we’ve collectively created.

In your opinion, what do you see as the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the glass ceiling?

Ad land’s diversity issue is well documented. According to research from Creative Equals, women only account for one in ten creative director roles (12%), whilst just a quarter of employees in the sector say they have a female line manager. Overall there hasn’t been enough change. But bringing together different people with varied experiences of the world always leads to better, more inclusive ideas. That and tireless effort to reverse the issue. And that’s what we’re all here for.


Do you think that women still face challenges in our industry, and if so, what are they?

Yes. Lots. Unconscious bias isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and even though many of us are now ‘conscious’ of it, it’s hard to override something that’s so deeply culturally ingrained in all of us.


How should we tackle an issue such equal opportunity?

Agencies can learn a lot from big companies; as part of Accenture we’re proud supporters of their global Getting to Equal programme with published targets, regular results and strategies on how to get to a gender balanced workforce. And on a day-to-day basis, there are practical things we do at key points in the employee journey that work. For example, at promotion time, we actively encourage women to apply and ensure formal processes that minimize ‘lobbying’. Overall though, the old adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ holds true, and there’s no substitute for senior female leadership, supported by senior male allies, providing role models, female networks and mentorship that help women progress and representing gender equality at board level.


How did you find your way into the industry and what professional achievement are you most proud of?

It was pure chance. I’d never considered the creative industry as an option for me, but an older friend from university got an agency job – it looked fascinating and I was hooked. There’s lots of work I’ve been proud of over the years but on a personal level at the moment I’m proud to be part of the team leading the world’s first creative agency integration into a big consulting business, via Accenture Interactive.


Who inspires you the most, either inside the industry or outside? Why?

Over the last year I’ve been very inspired by Melinda Gates, having read her book The Moment of Lift and seing her speak in person. Her commitment and the impact she is making on the world by focusing on women’s rights is almost beyond imagination.