Shaunah Margaret is the founder of Women Who Create, a non-profit mentorship program and professional development network for creative women of color. Her passion is helping women gain the skills and confidence they need to reach success in their careers, as well as advocating for diversity and inclusion.
Before taking on WWC full-time, she spent ten years in advertising as a copywriter for agencies like FCB Health, Rauxa, Tribal DDB, and Translation and for brands like Verizon, Mounjaro, Blue Shield of California, Anheuser-Busch, and Iams.
Her goals are to continue creating opportunities for companies to diversify their pipeline, provide programming to help retain and support talent up the ladder, and change the face of the c-suite.
Tell us what led you to launch Women Who Create.
I feel like I should have this question down by now, but honestly, the reason I wanted to create this organization is complex and layered. But of course, I didn’t understand how much so at the time.
Ten years ago when I was entering the advertising industry in New York City, it was very obvious how much I had to learn. I had the creative part down, but it was my lack in understanding agency politics that I felt held me back from thriving in my positions.
With no family members or mentors to reach out to who worked in the corporate space, I was starting at literally “square one.” Even figuring out how the elevators worked was a challenge! But I kept at it, learning slowly, and finding my way as a writer and developing my confidence at work.
At some point, I realized what I had been feeling, and some of the treatment I had endured was not exclusive to me. I only hadn’t realized it because there were so few people who looked like me that I could confide in and relate to! Without having the facts in front of your face or leadership talking about these issues, the impact of being a woman of color in a predominately white industry is almost invisible to others.
And just to root these thoughts in facts:
- Women of color are the least represented in the corporate pipeline, and only make up 4% of C-Suite executives.
- For every 100 men promoted, only 86 women are promoted.
- Women of color are more likely to face microaggressions in the workplace.
- The gender gap is much wider for most women of color.
Additionally, there is much nuance to the facts above depending on the person’s ethnicity and race.
So, to finally answer the question – I wanted to create programming and a community for creative women of color to chip away at the barriers that have historically held women back personally and professionally at work.
What does this all look like from an organizational perspective? We tackle the issues I mentioned above with these three areas:
- Pipeline diversification: We compiled a database of 900+ women of color across advertising, fashion, music, and tech who are open to new opportunities or actively looking for jobs. We also recently launched a job board on our website that requires pay transparency and emphasizes benefits beyond salary.
- Community support: We hold our 15-week mentorship program once a year in which we connect women of color in college and early in their career with seasoned women in the field. We are also gearing up for our Make Moves event on October 27, which aims to elevate WOC personally and professionally with a series of online panel discussions and an in-person networking event in NYC.
- Creative growth: Two years ago, we were able to develop a grant program, thanks to our partners at Vera Bradley, in which we give out a $5,000 grant to a student and entrepreneur of color. We are also in the process of developing a mid-level program to help usher women into management positions.
In what ways can we support your platform?
This page has everything you need to know about getting involved with Women Who Create and supporting. I hope to see some of you as mentors or mentees soon!
Tell us about Make Moves and why it is not an average virtual event.
Our vision with Make Moves was to create content exclusively through the lens of the WOC experience, while still being an event anyone could glean info from and enjoy. Last year we were able to welcome female leaders of color from Apple, Adobe, and Translation, along with recruiters, therapists, and entrepreneurs to the virtual stage. This year, our goal is the same, but we’re excited to be able to meet in person and celebrate at our networking afterparty which will be in New York City! Tickets will be available soon.
What has been your proudest moment since launching your platform?
My proudest moment has been the opportunity to give back financially to our community with our Dream in Color grant. I didn’t think I would be able to give back as much so early in my career. Now with $20,000 donated to two students and two entrepreneurs of color, with over 750 applications submitted, I’m looking forward to giving back even more money to more talented creatives of color in the future.
Share your goals for Women Who Create.
My vision is that Women Who Create can offer something to women of color at any level of their career – from mentorship connection to creative skills to financial support.
I am open to what exactly that will look like in the future and I’m excited to keep planting seeds of ideas and watching them grow with our community!