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Ours for the Taking: How Worldwide Partners Is Supporting Female Ambition


In honour of Women's History Month, the fourth and final feature of the Ours for the Taking series looks at how the WPI network facilitates the growth of female-led businesses

Ours for the Taking: How Worldwide Partners Is Supporting Female Ambition

Left to right, top to bottom: Mary Knight, Laura Emanuel, Erin Michalak, Stacy Whisel, Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe and Evren Inankur

Worldwide Partners (WPI) is a network of over 75 independent marketing agencies from all over the world, composed of the most progressive, creative and diverse marketing talent in the world. The network offers brand marketers and agencies a global platform for reimagining growth. In this series with WPI, LBB explores how women-led independent agencies are reshaping the advertising industry and charting new territories for the next generation of talent.

In honour of Women's History Month, this final instalment of the Ours for the Taking series features an all star line-up of female talent: Mary Knight, president and co-owner of Hydrogen; Laura Emanuel, managing director at Red Thread PR by Brownstein; Evren Inankur, partner at DS Integrated; Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe, CEO and owner of Wächter Worldwide Partners; Stacy Whisel and Erin Michalak, president and senior vice president of Godfrey. These six prominent business leaders sit down with LBB to discuss the benefits of the WPI network, the key changes in female representation within the industry, and their advice for navigating the unpredictable road ahead. 

LBB> Since you started in the industry, how has the conversation around diversity and representation evolved?

Laura Emanuel> As I was coming up in the early 2000s, I heard from many different women who felt like they always had to give up something at home or at the agency. These women felt they simply couldn't do it all at the level they wanted. I have personally seen a total reversal of this, as agencies have put in the work to be more inclusive, flexible and committed to fostering environments where women can “do it all”. At the same time, agencies have gone through this evolution alongside our client counterparts, so there's also an expectation that values - and commitment to representation - align between agencies and clients which has only propelled this even further.

Mary Knight> The conversation has gone from being the only woman in the room again, to "can you lead this business that needs female representation?", to "your leadership and unique point of view is valuable and differentiating."

Evren Inankur> This issue has been brought up a great deal, and discussed more and more in recent years. However, I think women are not lobbying enough on their behalf, rather choosing to be humble with their achievements. Although the industry is a woman-intensive industry, they are still not where they should be in the top management.

Stacy Whisel> Diversity and representation has certainly evolved – it became a major cultural and news topic about a year after we bought the agency. It became clear to us that being women-owned, women-led was actually really important to our team members. They were proud of it, and they wanted us to talk and promote that fact more than we had up until then.

LBB> How has being a member of WPI helped you achieve your business goals?

Mary Knight> WPI gives us the flexibility to scale up or down based on client needs. Having spent the first half of my career in large, global networks, I understand the benefits of global reach and appreciate the absence of bureaucracy.

Erin Michalak> WPI has provided so much opportunity for us to learn from other successful agencies. Our agency just celebrated 75 years, but we know the only way we will continue to exist and thrive is by evolving and adapting. The agencies in the WPI network do that every day in creative ways and we love being able to tap into that thinking, sharing the best (and the not so good) practices.

Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe> Instead of running different, expensive campaigns in each country, we were able to utilise the Worldwide Partners Network to develop a new strategy and creative campaign for a relevant number of clients. We crafted a globally consistent core message but with culturally appropriate creative and legally compliant variations in main markets, delivering excellent results.

Evren Inankur> Unfortunately, geography, language, and difference in market dynamics often restrict more collaboration. Nevertheless, our network strength gives us a notable credit in the eyes of our customers.

LBB> What are your hopes for the next generation of female leaders?

Mary Knight> I love that we've *almost* moved past tokenism. Wouldn't it be great if diversity became something we don't have to talk about because it permeated everything?

Erin Michalak> I hope we continue to see more opportunities for the next generation and they aren't forced to feel they must choose between career and family, or career and other pursuits. 

Stacy Whisel> I once had a female boss who came up in this industry in the 60's and 70's and she had some horror stories. She was forced to put on such a tough exterior to fit in and break through – I am so thankful that is no longer the case as things appear to continue improving.

Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe> Our generation has been fighting for decades for the recognition of female leaders. Fortunately, we have seen considerable progress, especially in recent years. For the next generation of female leaders, I hope and wish they will quickly gain further ground on this still bumpy road. 

Head over to Worldwide Partners' company page to learn more about how WPI unites brands and agencies to solve business challenges, enable access to local markets, and reimagine growth through global collaboration

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Worldwide Partners, Mon, 20 Mar 2023 16:05:05 GMT