You’d think with the U.S. nominating our first woman for president and with our first African American president about to step down after eight years that gender and diversity would no longer be an issue for the ad industry. But there are still challenges to face. Here, Tiffany Winter, Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Mindshare Content & Entertainment, imparts her POV on being a woman of color in a major ad agency.
1) Why do you think in 2016 we’re still talking about opportunities for women/diverse audiences and how they are portrayed in advertising?
Because there’s still work to do. There’s still a long way to go until ads as a whole start representing the new face of America—but progress has definitely been made.
As for careers, I can only speak from my personal experience. I haven’t felt like my color or gender has had a negative impact, but I know that’s not the case for everyone, and it differs depending on companies. Unfortunately, that can’t be solved overnight. But ultimately, we’re stronger as an industry when we bring in viewpoints and work from across the board, and we all need to remember that.
2) Do you think women, people of color, LGBTQ and people with disabilities face similar issues in the ad industry?
I actually think that advertising is one of the most open industries out there. The ad world celebrates creative and passionate people. There’s certainly still work to do – still issues to be dealt with – but I think in other industries it’s much harder to feel you can be who you are so freely.
3) What advice would you give a 20-year-old woman/person of color/LGBT/etc. on how to succeed in the advertising industry?
First, don’t go in assuming that you’re at a disadvantage. If you’ve been hired by a company, then they’ve seen something in you that they like. It’s then up to you to work hard and speak up for your ideas.
In addition, one piece of advice that I found very useful is to find an ally in business. That’s different from a mentor, who counsels and teaches you. An ally is someone within your company who has your back. They’ll fight for you and support you as you progress in your career. But it has to work both ways.
4) Would you want your own child to pursue a career in advertising? If not, why not?
If that’s what my daughter wanted, then definitely. The world of advertising is so broad that you can apply those skills to so many different roles, whether it be in an agency, client-side, or for a publisher. And you get the chance to meet and work with so many tremendous, creative people.
5) What did you do to survive and thrive in advertising?
There’s a few different things that I did, and would recommend to others:
· Invest time in a team and a company. While many of my colleagues have worked at two or three companies in the time that I’ve been at Mindshare, I’ve seen a huge value in investing time and not moving. I have a loyal boss, who has helped push me up through the agency. It’s also made it that much easier as I transitioned into my new role of working mom.
· Work hard, no matter the work. I know that seems like an obvious one, but throughout your career, you’re bound to be given projects that excite you and projects that don’t. Always try put that same enthusiasm and energy into both.
Surround yourself with positive people. This is something I live by in and out of work. You can only thrive if you spend time with people that are also looking forward and enjoy what they do.
Originally posted on 4A's.