Shine Co-Founder Anna was a judge at the Campaign Magazine Female Frontiers Awards. Here she shares her insights from the judging room…

On the day of the Female Frontiers award ceremony, I have to say it was an absolute pleasure being a judge. I could not stop reading about all these fantastic women and the wonderful things they do often alongside their already busy day jobs.

What struck me most is that a lot of the issues they were tackling are traditionally more on the taboo side because they tap into vulnerability – yet they are part of being human. Like coming back to work after recovering from anxiety or looking after the elderly, or women’s health issues (from periods, strengthening pelvic floors, to menopause).

Also, these awards are proof that a lot of women tackle D & I and equality in their workplaces and beyond, giving everyone a voice. Not just for gender equality but for wider inclusion of the many minority groups we simply need to have in order for a healthy company. This allows for people to bring their whole selves to work, and gives back to less privileged members of society.

These Female Frontiers are trying to heal the system to make business more human.

I feel like all these women are playing a bigger game which is not all about themselves, but about making the world a better place for others. Having them as role models is beneficial for all. 

Key trends

Equality makes business sense.

Several of the nominees I judged had used their positions within a business to shape their own, their clients’ and wider society’s approaches to everything from product design, marketing and even the core structure of a company – all with the aim of reaching equality. This has not only seen results that improve people’s lives and win awards, but also hard business metrics such as additional revenue streams, increased sales and higher profits.

Inequality breeds entreprenurialism.

Tackling inequality is not easy. It requires creativity, new thinking and hard work – but this can create opportunity. Around two thirds of the nominees took the time to set up a side hustle, and approximately a quarter of them went on to turn it into a successful (and meaningful) business.

Reaching equality means breaking taboos. 

The nominees were bravely addressing typically sensitive subjects like mental health, caregiving and women’s health challenges, with practical solutions on a large scale. Opening up the discussions on a company level will lead to wider societal acceptance.

Gender inequality isn’t a female issue, it’s a human opportunity. 

Roughly 20% of the nominees I judged were male or were nominated by a male colleague. It’s great to have men joining in the conversation, but would love to see even more. We know that we can only drive genuine systemic change if we bring men along with us.

Why are these awards important?

It’s vital that the marketing and advertising industry celebrates examples of people going above and beyond to achieve equality with initiatives such as these awards. Aside from it making general business sense (for example according to the 2018 McKinsey report, businesses with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to have a financial return above the industry average), arguably it is even more important for the ad industry to ensure diversity amongst its own people, in order to reflect the diversity of consumers.

In the case of gender equality, it’s estimated that women drive 70-80% of the world’s spending power (Female Factor). This constitutes a larger consumer market than both China and India combined (EY). A study from the Center for Talent Innovation found that teams that had one or more members who represented a target end user were up to 158% more likely to understand their end users and innovate accordingly. The findings showed that “homogeneity stifles innovation” — most people don’t value ideas they don’t relate to. 

Overall, I felt that this was a great contingent and it was so brilliant to see many people taking action on inequality in entrepreneurial ways. On behalf of Shine I want to wish all the honourees and speakers the best of luck for this evening, particularly to some of our Shine Stars, clients and friends, including Claire Beale, Global Editor In Chief, Campaign; Kerry Chilvers, Brands Director, Direct Line; Karen Blackett OBE, UK Country Lead, WPP; Landy Slattery, Creative Director, All 4; Vicki Maguire, Chief Creative Officer, Havas London; Lindsay Pattison, WW Chief Client Officer, WPP and Jen Smith, Co-Founder, Craft Media.

Anna X