What I’ve Learned Fighting for Gender Equality as an Ally

Sponsored by Ampersand

Brooks Wood, ​​Director of Agency Partnerships at Ampersand

Photo courtesy of Ampersand.

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“I believe there are three secret ingredients for sustained change,” says Brooks Wood, Director of Agency Partnerships at Ampersand.

  1. “We need patience because nothing worth fighting for comes overnight..

  2. Baby steps are often times the strongest steps of any journey. 

  3. Without faith, then what are we even fighting for?”

One of his favorite quotes is by André De Shields — "Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be."

Wood works at Ampersand, a company with a “unique seat at the technology table,” Wood explains. Ampersand is “a data-agnostic player in the game, strategically positioned to work with anybody and everybody. Hence, the name — ‘Ampersand.’”

As part of his work at Ampersand, Wood is a founding member and co-lead of Ampersand’s Culture Council. “Our group’s work is very much focused on the awareness of many issues around DE&I (including gender equality) and how to strategically insert that messaging into a corporate environment,” Wood shares. "Awareness is where it starts."

As a leader and an outspoken ally and advocate for gender equality, Wood has plenty of advice on allyship and better supporting your colleagues. He shares more in this interview!

What are your main job responsibilities, and what about your role most excites you?

Broadly defined, the Agency Partnerships Team here at Ampersand is focused on servicing the agency community. To be a bit more specific, we take a wide, portfolio-led approach, aligning Ampersand’s assets and resources with the needs of the agencies and holding companies we serve, identifying where and how we can be best utilized, and ultimately putting a plan into action in order to deliver on a solution. 

Ampersand’s capabilities are far-reaching, which can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to a marketer. We are, after all, the “AND” company. It’s my job to help simplify the conversation for our clients. The most exciting thing about working with the Agency Partnerships Team here at Ampersand is that I’m afforded with an incredible vantage point — not just internally, but also with our suppliers, agency partners, tech & data providers, you name it. I have visibility into nearly every facet of our business, and am able to assist in bridging the gaps — wherever they may exist.

While we’ve made progress toward achieving a more gender-balanced workforce, there remains a lot of work to be done. What kinds of actions do you incorporate into your day-to-day routine at work (or beyond) to serve as a male ally?

There is absolutely a lot more work to be done. Roe v Wade being overturned just a few months ago is proof of how much work we need to do. It’s not just about creating a more gender balanced workforce, but also about ensuring that women are treated fairly when it comes to their bodies, access to education, and equal pay. I have a two-year-old daughter at home, and another little girl on the way. So, for me, as a #girldad, I want to do my part in ensuring that there is real systemic change when it comes to creating a more gender-balanced workplace, no matter the industry. The change has been slow, there’s no denying that. As a white, cisgender male, I recognize that a lot of that change starts with men who look like me. Real change starts with those who have the power to make change.

What’s your #1 tip for men who want to be allies to women at work but aren’t sure of what to do or where to start? 

I would say start with including women in more of your day-to-day work. That may sound simple — and if so… GOOD! It is simple. Men tend to work more often with other men. We have a lot of the same interests and we’ve been hard-wired to know that other men are most likely to agree with us. However, as a man, I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t include a female perspective in my brainstorm sessions. men and women inherently have different life experiences. For that reason alone, the richest and most informed point of views can only be generated when both genders have a seat at the table.

What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?

I’ve been blessed to have worked under some of the greatest media minds in our industry. While I can’t pick just one manager, I can pick one trait that made the greatest of them great. They were all generous with their time. I’m an inquisitive guy (never stop learning, remember?). Time is the most precious commodity that we have. As a manager, being generous with your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give your employees. That also applies to family and friends.

Why do you believe your company is a particularly supportive place for women employees?

A company’s values, just like everything else, start at the top. Beyond the perception that comes from having a female leader in a historically male-dominated industry, Ampersand’s CEO, Nicolle Pangis, has been a dedicated champion for gender equality in the workplace. That endorsement is felt throughout the company, so much so that by merely working here, you are also supporting gender equality by proxy.

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

You’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason.

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