Leading from Within: Inspiring Women in the Creative Industry During ‘See It Be It’ Events at Cannes

There are still too few women rising in leadership within the creative industry. That’s why this year Spotify teamed up with Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity “See It Be It,” a program that highlights the issue of gender imbalance at senior levels in the industry—and works to push it into a better balancing act. Each year, the career development initiative identifies 20 future female leaders from the creative world, then provides them with executive training, mentoring and networking opportunities to push their careers forward.

This year, Spotify’s own Danielle Lee (VP, Global Head of Partner Solutions) and Jackie Jantos (VP, Brand and Creative) served as onsite mentors for the “See It Be It” participants throughout Cannes Lions, leading discussions on the importance of inclusivity in brands and using creativity for change. Throughout the week, participants have shared stories and learned skills to help accelerate their paths to leadership in their respective companies and countries. They also heard from Methal, a female musician from Yemen, about her own journey and the adversity she’s faced.

The mentors will follow up with participants throughout the year in other media-related events all over the world to help them put what they’ve learned into action and engage executives at their companies on the topic of gender diversity. “This panel, and See It Be It, is so important to me,” says R/GA EVP and Chief Creative Officer Chloe Gottlieb. “I think about my two little girls and how they will grow up. I hope that they will have the best opportunities, regardless of gender.”

We sat down with Danielle Lee and Alexandra Tanguay (Global Brand Director), to learn why “See It Be It” is so necessary, and how brands should lead by example when incorporating diversity.

Q: Why did Spotify get involved with “See It Be It”?

Danielle Lee: Music is one of the most multicultural forms of storytelling. We at Spotify saw this partnership as an opportunity to have an impact on a program that really is trying to tackle the issue of gender imbalance within the creative community. We are very passionate about culture and creativity and believe that the talent we have on our creative teams needs to reflect the world we live in if we’re really going to connect with consumers and build content that they’re going to love.

Q: How have your roles throughout your career shown you the necessity of programs like “See It Be It”?

Danielle Lee: I am a product of many organizations’ efforts to advance diverse and inclusive environments. I’m a Better Chance Scholar and alum. I was part of INROADS, which is a summer internship program for students of color, so I’ve really benefited throughout my career from organizations and companies that prioritize this mission. I feel a deep responsibility to lift others just as others have done for me. It’s really important not just to be very effective and high-performing in my work, but to also share what I’ve learned and use my power and influence to be part of advancing these issues.

Alexandra Tanguay: I’ve been super fortunate in my time at Spotify in that I’ve had an extremely wonderful mentor and supervisor who is a woman. I’ve been sheltered from a lot of the challenges you face in this industry because I’ve had her on my side. But in my years prior to Spotify, I worked in very male-dominated industries. So I know it’s important that you don’t feel alone. It’s important that you showcase female talent now so that the larger industry can recognize the role that women play and how important it is to have diverse perspectives.

Q: Why does Spotify believe in partnering with companies that lead by example?

Danielle Lee: At Spotify we really focus on the concept of discovery. It’s one of the things that fans love about our platform. They discover new music. They discover new cultures. We feel a deep responsibility to help fans expand their world. Being a champion for openness and discovering new perspectives is a real honor. We like to work with other companies and brands that value that and want to take advantage of that opportunity, not just to put your ad in front of someone, but to impact them in a meaningful way. Music is such a personal medium. We really challenge ourselves to think about how we can create experiences for our fans where the advertising is just as impactful as the music they’re listening to.

Alexandra Tanguay: Media brands have access and opportunity to pull in ambassadors. At Spotify, we can highlight artists who resonate with their fans in such an incredible way. We have a responsibility and opportunity to leverage music to make a huge impact.

Q: Why should media brands lead by example?

Danielle Lee: Media brands shape the way people see themselves, and the way the world sees different communities. It’s so, so important that we tell stories and bring visibility to different voices. As a black woman, I grew up with the people around me having very limited perspectives about who black women are from media portrayals. They were nannies. They were maids. They were one-dimensional. I worked intentionally to redefine that image, because I’m none of those things, and the women around me and in my family and friends, they are none of those things. We have to break those stereotypes and expand people’s understanding of different communities. I think brands and marketers have a critical role to play in tackling those stereotypes and telling stories that have not been given a platform.

Alexandra Tanguay: Spotify is a unique partner to so many different types of brands. We have led the way on so many impact-driven campaigns that allow our partners to come in and allow our partners to sponsor important programs. Having artists on our side allows us to pull brands into those conversations in very authentic ways.