By Angela Priestley 

Money talks, and women control a LOT of it. 

Last week ad-land veteran Bec Brideson delivered a presentation on what is one of the most important issues confronting businesses, especially their marketing teams: women are the future, the statistics prove it. 

As Brideson outlined, women now make up 85% of purchasing decisions and control at least $28 trillion of our global economy. So you’d think any good marketer would be sitting up and taking notice. 

So what did Brideson's audience look like? Well as one of two options presented at the same time at the Mumbrella 360 conference, Brideson later told Women’s Agenda her audience was reflected right back at her. It was, she estimated, 95% female. 

The rest of the delegates headed over to see Mark Ritson, an outspoken industry voice who is questioning data in the digital world. A controversial and probably very interesting take, but as Brideson questioned, is it one that's more interesting than how to reach the world's most powerful customer?

Marketers are struggling to hear the message that women matter and will matter much more in the future. Not just marketers, but entire businesses from multinationals to small family-run operations. Boards continue to be dominated by men – incredibly six ASX 200 organisations still have no women on their boards at all. A good 25.1% of organisations reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency report having no key management personnel who are women. Meanwhile in agency land, women account for just 13.5% of senior creative positions and less than a quarter of those staffing creative departments. 

We live in a Mad, Mad World. But it’s not just advertising that’s the problem. 

If organisations were committed to better addressing their customers, we’d see their customers better represented in their leadership teams and across all departments.  

Putting the glacially slow-to-close gender leadership gap aside, why wouldn’t more male marketers be open to hearing about how to market to the female consumer? 

Brideson suggested that topics around data/digital transformation/technology can seem simpler to grasp. "It is perceived as measurable in outcome and it is more 'masculine' than is the subject of 'women'," she said 

"Technology and it’s by-products are transforming so much of business. But women are a bigger opportunity, if only they could hear why.” 

She adds that the message gets lost in translation and dismissed as a gender debate. 

But it's not a debate. It's reality. Indeed, it’s a “competitive advantage,” as Brideson says, yet one that businesses continue to overlook. Is the subject too boring? Too hard to measure? Has it too long been relegated to being a women's issue and therefore one for women to deal with alone? Kind of like childcare? 

Great marketing and creative work starts with something else, a diverse range of people.

And great diversity will not only improve marketing efforts, but improve entire businesses by bringing in a broader range of thinking and ideas. 

“The tipping point for the new, powerful female economy is close,” Brideson says. “Even if marketers don’t listen now, they’ll have to eventually.”  

As Cindy Gallop said in her address at the Mumbrella 360 event, there’s a “goddam shit-tonne of money” to be made from businesses that embrace diversity and any new business starting out with an all-white male leadership team will NOT own the future. 

It’s time to take women seriously. As employees, as leaders, as customers.