Our industry loves measurement. Why aren’t we measuring female empowerment?

Our industry loves measurement. Why aren’t we measuring female empowerment?

We must define what success in workplace equity looks like and create accountability through measurement to help us achieve those goals.

Walking into a boardroom for an external meeting recently, I was horrified to see no other women in the room. The next week brought another meeting with some female attendees, but they didn’t share any ideas or suggestions — at least not until I directly asked for their opinion.

These small incidents likely sound unexceptional to women in adtech as well as the wider business world. But they add up to a hugely important conclusion.

As a woman in business, I’ve always appreciated the value of female empowerment initiatives. But what these experiences made clear is that, no matter how many LinkedIn posts promoting female leadership I see, there is a disconnect when it comes to driving actual change within the adtech industry.

If we are to bridge the gap between perception and actual empowerment, the industry needs to look beyond calendar events such as International Women’s Day.

Beyond the bubble

These experiences from the last few weeks made me realise that, for the most part, I am lucky to be in a bubble when it comes to equality. I am treated as an equal in my job and have risen to a position where I have agency, authority and influence without my gender holding me back in any obvious way.

My network only reinforces this feeling. I count many talented women among my contacts who had risen to become exceptional leaders and it seems that cross-sector inclusivity and equality had both come far.

Beyond my own bubble, however, with nearly 100% of women stating that a lack of confidence in their abilities holds them back from entering the tech industry, clearly there is a need to keep the conversation alive to bring about positive change.

But more stark are the reasons that women give for leaving the industry — including frustration with career development, pay dissatisfaction and a poor work-life balance.

More needs to be done to make our industry truly equal.

From aspiration to accountability

For the adtech industry, talk is not enough — we must set more solid goals.

In our day-to-day jobs, everything we do is data-driven. We are an industry that loves to measure every incremental gain, set granular KPIs and use cold, hard data to propel innovation.

In other issues that impact wider society, tech companies are willing to measure and set targets to make a positive impact — think of the data-driven approach many are taking to achieve net zero.

If our aim is to improve gender equality in the workplace and create a more equitable environment, we must set clear, measurable goals within individual companies as well as the industry at large.

We must define what success looks like and create accountability through measurement to help us achieve them. Whatever KPI your company chooses, it needs to be measured effectively and tied to real, concrete outcomes.

Instead of patting ourselves on the back for the good job we have done over the last few years, we need to be measuring how much progress we have actually made and setting new goals that take us forward — and keep gender equality moving.

We must stop allowing female empowerment initiatives to be dream-washed and turn them into a useful barometer of active change. Only through action can we actually address the inequalities that still exist within our industry.

Emma Newman is chief revenue officer, EMEA, at PubMatic

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