INDUSTRY FORUM WOMEN IN TOYS
Supporting Female Employees’ Mental Health: What Can You & Your Company Do? by Lindsey Berger WiT Member Lindsey Berger is a third-generation toy salesperson and a 12-year toy industry veteran. She is a mental health advocate and has worked with companies such as The Bridge, Ty, License 2 Play Toys, and currently, Melissa & Doug
For as long as I can remember, when anyone asked, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” My answer was always the same – sell toys like my grandpa and dad did. I grew up in the toy industry and have met the most incredible people over the years. The industry has changed and evolved over the past 80 years, and I believe it is more diverse and inclusive than ever before. Companies are now challenged to provide employees with a respectful, collaborative, equitable, and welcoming work environment. As a third-generation toy salesperson and a 12-year industry veteran, my experience as a salesperson and as a woman has not always been one of inclusivity and acceptance. I have faced age and gender discrimination multiple times over the years from manufacturers and buyers. In an interview to independently rep one of the top manufacturers in the industry, the sales manager asked, “You aren’t going to go get pregnant and stop working your accounts, are you?” I was shocked and appalled by the question. Does getting pregnant mean I can’t work? Coincidentally, shortly after this interview (I did not take the job), I became pregnant with my daughter. I worked through my entire pregnancy, and I continue to work just as hard (or harder) now. Being a young female in the industry is not easy – the hours are long, and the work can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. After living through a pandemic, it is more important now than ever for female employees to take care of themselves mentally and physically. Working from home or a hybrid model can be very isolating and lonely, so connectivity to others is key. Most of us spend 40+ hours at work every week, but life is about so much more. Joy and happiness come from many different places, including spending time with family and friends, enjoying hobbies, interacting with pets, etc. Being mentally healthy at home and at work is incredibly important to personal and professional development and success. All employees should be embraced, celebrated, and supported on a daily basis at and outside of work. To provide support for the amazing women in our industry, there are various activities that all companies can implement and/or participate in.
18 tfe May/June 2022