International Women’s Day is a day, but for NHL Chief Marketing Officer Heidi Browning, showcasing the work of her peers and giving more women a chair at the table is a daily reality.
“One of the most important things about this day is that people around the world come together to tell stories and shine a light on the impact women have on business, culture, politics and society,” Browning said Monday. “But it’s also a sobering reminder that there are 364 other days in the year when we can do this.”
Browning joined the NHL on October 10, 2016 and leads marketing campaigns including strategy, creative development, production and distribution. She also identifies new strategies to expand the League’s reach across traditional and digital channels.
She was joined by other professional women on a virtual panel hosted by the NHL on Monday to reflect on the contributions and roads paved by women in sport. Hosted by ESPN hockey reporter Linda Cohn, Browning met with Michelle McKenna, NFL Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Karin Timpone, MLB Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer Cramer, Executive President of MLS Partnerships Marketing and Portia, Chief Operating Officer of the NBA G League. Archer.
As the NHL’s top marketing executive, Browning’s long-term perspective on markets leans toward women.
[RELATED: More Gender Equality Month coverage]
“If there’s a macro trend in the world, it’s that the future is female,” she said. “That’s where the growth happens, whether it’s in fandom, jobs, or inspiration. The whole ecosystem grows.”
An experience shared by every woman is the lack of other female colleagues.
“Working across multiple industries, I’ve been in music, tech, data, digital and sports and pretty much my entire career, regardless of level or industry, I’m often the only woman at the table or in the room. I might be one of the two,” Browning said. “That has been consistent throughout my career.”
Browning said that when she talks about creative or administrative decisions, she wonders if it’s the right choice and something she wishes she had seen when she was younger. She said there are at least 200 women in the NHL in leadership positions and at least 100 in hockey operations, including assistant general manager, scout and official positions.
“It’s the beginning,” Browning said. “Momentum begets momentum, so the more we can harness that, I think we’ll start to see the world change.”
The theme of the panel was #BreakTheBias. Browning is focused on denying the idea that women don’t know the sport and working to make sure they are heard.
“There are unconscious but learned behaviors that we need to educate and raise awareness about so people can change their behaviors, like talking, repeating exactly what a woman just said like it was her idea or people were watching. their phone when the woman is talking,” she says. “These are all unconscious and subconscious indicators that aren’t cool, and I think one of the best things we’ve done is the inclusion training.
The goal of the training is to teach everyone, regardless of gender or title, to recognize and change behaviors to contribute to the success of the NHL. One initiative is NHL Power Players, which focuses on selecting young fans to help advise the NHL on hockey-related topics important to their generation. Girls ages 13-17 living in the United States, Washington, DC or Canada make up 60% of the Youth Advisory Council.
“They are so full of ideas, commitment and ways to make sure our sport is open, accessible and inclusive for everyone,” Browning said. “I think the combination of that, plus the growth of youth sports and the fact that the whole world is waking up and realizing that we need to shine a light on women’s sport, whether it’s from a media coverage perspective or from a publicity and sponsorship or fan perspective, this is the time for all of us and that’s what excites me.”