WIRe London, an XXelent event

Mustard’s female force recently attended London’s Women in Research event, kindly hosted by TNS. WIRe was founded in 2007 by Kristin Luck of Decipher as a means of connecting and supporting women in the market research community. The event was organised by Jo Rigby.

First to the stage was the brilliant Danielle Todd, Senior Research Executive at TNS. A Finalist of the ESOMAR Young Researcher Award 2013, Danielle presented her paper on gender diversity.

The content explored the lack of female representation not only in research (only 18% of researchers work under a female CEO), but also in general. Sadly, the UK didn’t even make it into the list of countries listed by percentage of female CEOs working there – Norway topped the list which is unsurprising considering their 40% board policy.

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Danielle then went on to explain how men and women describe their characteristics differently – men typically describe themselves as confident and risk-taking, while women describe themselves as good communicators and pro-active. She articulated the importance of female characteristics in business – and how a balanced board is a strong driver of commercial success – spouting off some impressive figures (such as, on average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53 percent on return on equity) to prove her point.

The topic sparked a hot debate amongst the audience. One member made the point that the business world – with its pressured sales quotas – is geared towards male characteristics rather than female. Women tend to build long-term relationships with clients – which deliver over the long term, where men are more inclined to concentrate on sales from clients in the short term. This works against women with families, who may be unable to work a full week and therefore are viewed as less valuable as they don’t make as many sales, but may be brilliant at building and maintaining client relationships. I could go on – many other topics were touched upon, such as the efficiency of working from home, childcare and benefit of Norway’s 40% policy.

Lucy Davison, Mustard’s MD, then took to the stage to explain the importance of personal branding in your career. The reason for this is quite obvious when one considers consumer products – we pay more for brands than own label – so brand yourself and reap the rewards.

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Researchers and marketers will be familiar with the concept of a brand framework. Lucy talked the audience through how to apply one to yourself, an exercise which allows you to recognise and identify exactly what is great about you (important as women can so often doubt themselves).

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Lucy concluded her presentation by challenging the audience to come back next year charging 25% more. We all raised our glasses to that!

Then came the panel, which was chaired by Jo Rigby and included Elina Halonen of the Irrational Agency, Monique Drummond of Relish Research and Lucy Davison of Keen as Mustard. Jo kicked proceedings off by asking the panel about their personal brand, and then asking how they implement it. All three women explained the importance of establishing their key messages and then spreading them on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn Groups).

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One audience member raised the industry wide issue of a lack of papers presented by women. Elina chimed in with her own personal mantra when submitting a paper – ensuring that it delivers valuable content – not just a marketing message (she reference Annie Pettit’s article on types of conference speakers which you can read here.) She stressed the benefit of channelling time into this; her work has put her in front of thousands of people all over the globe. The panel also encouraged women in junior roles to be pro-active with their ideas for papers and pitching those to their bosses – as presenting at conferences is an excellent way to strengthen both your personal brand, and that of your company.

We then heard from charities, Glam Giving and Smart Works. Do check out their websites – both are fantastic causes.

It was an XXelent evening and I (and the rest of the audience) left feeling wholly inspired and ready to conquer the world. Here’s to being a woman – chin chin.