PubMatic’s associate director of ad solutions, Brittany Lefave, tells B&T why supporting colleagues in the tech industry is absolutely essential to creating a more equitable working environment.
However, that support covers all bases. Support groups, mental health first aid, awards schemes, and recognising colleague successes are all necessary to help change the tech world and help more women lead the industry.
Tell us about your career and how you came to work at PubMatic?
Brittany Lefave: I started my career working in media agencies in Canada and then Australia. I had omnichannel buying and planning experience, but I enjoyed digital media the most. My agency experience gave me a solid foundation for the partnership work I do today with agencies and advertisers.
You’ve worked in tech sales throughout your career, have you found that those environments have been kind of particularly male dominated or is that a false perception of the industry?
BL: Traditionally, tech has been a male dominated industry. I’m very fortunate to have been given multiple opportunities in the tech space and having spent my time at PubMatic, I can say with confidence it definitely fosters an environment of equal opportunity. The team locally as well as globally are very supportive and collaborative. I feel like we are a company that fosters a voice for everyone.
Have you seen that dynamic change over your career?
BL: PubMatic is very progressive in its support of women and I personally have always been given opportunities. I can’t speak to the experiences of other women in the industry but, if we’re looking at overarching trends, I’d say it is still a male dominated industry, but I feel l we are getting better.
What do you think is kind of driving that change?
BL: The changes we are making to hiring practices and the awareness that we are bringing to the fact that it hasn’t always been equal between men, women and different diverse groups.
Along with working for PubMatic, you are an accredited mental health first aider and a member of the IAB’s Talent and Careers Working Group. Why is it important to have those extracurricular roles?
BL: I think it’s really important to take on extracurricular opportunities when you have the passion and capacity to do so. Mental health, in particular, and being a mental health champion is really important to me, personally. I want the people around me to feel supported, and not feel like they have to leave it all at the door when the workday starts.
There will obviously be times in our lives when we won’t be our best selves and I think it’s important to flag that — even if it’s saying, ‘I’m not okay today’ when you step into a room full of people.
In terms of what the role entails, I share the experience and the knowledge I have learnt from the mental health champion course with the teams in APAC. I made it quite known that I was available to have a conversation with anyone if they wanted to have a conversation with me in a very private manner.
I’m also part of the Talent and Careers Working Group. We work on different initiatives to try to encourage education and knowledge of our industry and provide tools for upskilling and retention. We created micro-credential programmes in partnership with Deakin University for people with a digital advertising career looking to upskill or those looking to change roles
Does the Talent and Careers Working Group have a specific focus on getting women into the industry?
BL: Until now, it has been more around reviewing needs to attract, retain and support talent in our industry. It is a viable career path but its not often called out at college or university as a clear option. We have been very focused on creating content and providing opportunities like the IAB Careers Fair so that people can feel more prepared to go to an interview for a role in a media agency or a publisher or in the tech space.
You’ve been at PubMatic for almost four years now, have you noticed any changes within the workplace?
BL: COVID fundamentally changed the way that everybody works. Most companies now have a flexible working policy, including PubMatic, which I personally think provides greater balance and benefits to everyone.
Are there any initiatives that PubMatic is working on now or has done to champion women in the business?
BL: PubMatic has been really open with what it has been working on in this area, particularly around diversity and inclusion (D&I).
We publish a D&I report annually. We have been making a concerted effort to recruit and to grow the careers of women, with 29.7 per cent of global new hires and 60 per cent of promotions in APAC last year being female.
PubMatic has also implemented a gender and inclusion council and female employee resource groups with the aim to enable our women to grow their career and foster an environment that provides equal opportunity for all employees, regardless of gender identity.
PubMatic is great at recognising employees. It has different programmes and initiatives. For example, we use a tool internally called Reflektive, we have a Slack channel called ‘Cheers for Peers.’ There are regional and global awards that you can win, with some peer-nominated and some leadership based. I think it’s always important to celebrate our successes and I love that these awards are not only driven by the leadership team but also by our peers. It creates a level playing ground for people to be recognised within the business.
What changes would you like to see to make women feel more empowered and able to affect change within the tech industry?
BL: I think everyone should be given equal opportunity to prove themselves. I think if we start there, and make tiny changes to our own mindsets and hiring practices, it will be very interesting to see in two, five or 10 years’ time to see the progress that we’ve made. More women and more diversity in senior positions within our industry. If we can just make those two tweaks, I think that we will be setting ourselves up for success.
How early should those interventions start?
BL: In my opinion, I think we should be speaking about gender equality and diversity and inclusion as early as possible in our education systems and at home. We should know that we are raising aware, respectful individuals that will go out and put their best feet forward in our world.
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