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Bec Brideson

Executive Creative Director & Founder of Venus Comms, Founder of Women With Agency

November 2020

Bec Brideson is a globally renowned pioneer in gender intelligence innovation. She has over 30 years of experience in the advertising industry as an ECD, agency owner, speaker, author and consultant. Not only did she start her own agency to counter the discrimination she’d faced throughout her career, but she also helps businesses use a gender lens to drive greater profitability, innovation and growth.

She shared with us some of her experiences, insights and advice.

Has advertising inequality affected you, directly or indirectly?

I joined the industry at a time there were less than 3% of women in Creative Director roles. Sexism and inequality impacted my career trajectory way too many times. Sexual harassment derailed my career a couple of times. Ultimately it was the reason I started my own agency and only then did it stop.

I have worked triple-hard to overcome the damage this did to my self-esteem and confidence personally and professionally.

What would equality mean for the advertising industry, and society more broadly?

It would mean that those of us who are ‘awake’ could just get on with doing the work and embracing opportunity – rather than spending extra time fighting against the inequality, or healing from trauma. Starting my own agency stopped one kind of inequality but exposed plenty of other systemic inequalities.

What are the three most important qualities in a leader?

Vision. Communication. High emotional intelligence.

Who are your mentors?

I have had a few over the years starting with the wonderful Susie Chadwick, more recently the perspicacious Rod Bennett and a host of authors, entrepreneurs, people of great insight and influence – like the inimitable Cindy Gallop and wise Kat Gordon in the US. I am looking for a new mentor/mentors – as the saying goes, the teacher appears when the student is ready. I am ready!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Your career (especially in advertising) is a marathon, not a sprint.

What’s one thing industry folk could do in their day-to-day work lives that would help drive gender equality?

Rethink their view of what valuable looks like. Valuable comes in all forms.

When it comes to creating positive change, is there a piece of work, person or company that really stands out to you?

I’d like to see the industry and brands supporting women who have started their own businesses.

Only 1% of procurement globally goes to women-owned business. That’s maybe why you won’t find an eponymous agency name on Wall St.

Read that figure once more – and you will also understand that means a whopping 99% of procurement dollars land in the hands of men who do business with a closed loop of other men in business.

I’d like to see the opportunity for at least one female-owned business to be on every pitch in Australia. Then women would have an equal chance at building business. You can read more about this at womenwithagency.com

Any final words of wisdom?

For a career in advertising, you need to stay in peak condition mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually. Life is a series of continuous learnings and openings waiting for those who are willing to run at them.