Rick Barron
Rick Barron 30 September 2019

A More Diverse Marketing World

Gender diversity has long been an issue in marketing – especially in executive positions. Men have largely dominated the industry, and women have struggled to break in and advance their careers.

Gender diversity has long been an issue in marketing – especially in executive positions. Men have largely dominated the industry, and women have struggled to break in and advance their careers.

This disparity won’t be solved overnight, but there are signs of progress.

In 2012, a study by Grant Thornton found that only 8% of CMOs were female. Two years later, reported that number as 19%. In fact, women’s influence in marketing continues to grow. 

While women are still underrepresented in the industry, those who’ve made it to the top have found success and made their voices heard through social media.

Here are the three most influential female CMOs, and some of their accomplishments.


1. Linda Boff, GE

As CMO of GE since 2015, Linda Boff has been tasked with bringing a 125-year-old brand into the 21st century. That’s why she’s launched notable content campaigns like Drone Week during the 2016 Olympics.

For five days, drones streamed live, behind-the-scenes footage showcasing how GE technology helped power the big games.

She’s consistently taken GE’s marketing to the next level by jumping into new platforms and tech early—from virtual reality to Snapchat Stories.

“Innovation, technology, and progress have been in our DNA for 124 years. We try hard to reach both core and new audiences in ways that underscore that,” Boff said of GE’s content efforts. “We are pretty disruptive in the way we approach the media.”

“I want our brand to be the best,” Boff explains. “This may sound corny, but the world needs GE and the things we do, like supplying electricity to the billion people in the world who don’t have access or high quality, affordable healthcare in remote areas.”


2. Leslie Berland, Twitter

In her first year as CMO, Leslie Berland took on a major challenge: rebranding Twitter from a social network to a news platform. This shift helped reach new users who’d previously thought of the Twitter as simply a place to reach family and friends.

Her entire career has been about leading with impact whether for the companies she passionately serves or taking a stand personally to represent and support communities she believes need a platform.  The results from her leadership at American Express and now Twitter clearly speak for themselves.

Leslie is the first person to say, “it wasn’t me; it was a team of people.” And indeed, as both CMO and Head of People of Twitter, Leslie is all about empowering others to lead.  Her approach on how she assembled her leadership teams and fosters an innovative, unified culture driven by purpose is a great blueprint for all companies, brands, and leaders today.

By tackling this challenge right out of the gate, Berland drew widespread praise for addressing a core obstacle to the growth of the brand – while branding herself as a CMO to watch.


3. Karen Walker, Cisco

Karen Walker became CMO of Cisco in 2015, and has since championed a new slogan for the company: “There’s never been a time.” This communicates the idea that digital disruption can drive positive change – and that Cisco is on the front lines of that change.

Five months after becoming CMO last year, Karen Walker presented to Cisco’s board of directors a list of six ways in which she wanted to get digital “right”—such as becoming more customer-centric, deepening emotional connection with the brand and overhauling its digital strategy.

Through a multi-platform campaign, Cisco shared real stories of how its technology saves lives, makes cities smarter, and delivers resources to those in need.

“We are technology optimists,” Walker wrote on the company’s blog. “For 30 years our goal has been to change the way people work, live, play and learn. Now it’s time for us to step forward with a new message of optimism and to share it in a bold and different way.”

In May 2016, Cisco worked with Goodby Silverstein & Partners to create an emotionally compelling global campaign, “There’s Never Been a Better Time.” The effort, anchored by a series of spots showing Cisco technology being used to help refugees in Europe or power self-driving trucks in copper mines, debuted during the NBA playoffs and appeared on news websites including Forbes, Fortune, and Fast Company. The campaign—rolled out across 40 countries—drove 3.5 times the amount of digital engagement than the entire course of a previous promotion had.  

As top influencers, these women have transformed their brands and redefined what it means to be a marketing leader. They’ve also pushed the boundaries of social engagement, delivering innovative customer experiences across channels.

About the author

Hi, my name is Rick and I thank you for reading this article!

I explore to learn new stuff every day and here I will share all my experiences and thoughts with you.

You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram. :)

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