Cindy Gallop wants agency leaders and the industry to step up and provide a safety net for those that have been victims of sexual harassment in Australian agencies.
She says agency leaders must provide a safe space for people to report unsavoury behaviour and end the culture of NDA's and silence that has bullied victims and allowed perpetrators to carry on, repeating their behaviours with few repercussions.
Gallop tells AdNews that she has received a huge number of emails from men and women in advertising across the globe - including some from the Australian market.
The vast majority are terrified to go public in case doing so ends their career, which is why she is urging agency leaders and the broader industry to offer a safety net and protect those that come forward. She wants agency bosses, recruiters and HR leaders to pledge to actively welcome for interviews and job opportunities, those who do stand up.
She tells AdNews: "I'm calling on all Australian agencies, agency leaders and brand marketers who pride themselves on their values, principles and integrity, and who want to eradicate sexual harassment from the workplace, to celebrate the true heroes of our industry - the men and women who are brave enough to speak up publicly about sexual harassment - by publicly committing to instructing recruiters, HR and talent managers to actively seek out, welcome for interview and potentially hire those heroes. Please email me or AdNews.”
Gallop's point is that by making public the names of those that pledge to make a positive difference will help “eliminate this dynamic in our industry that drains it of female talent and keeps women out of positions of power and creative leadership."
Exactly how it will work isn't clear but if there are agencies willing to put their hand up that’s a good starting point, and implementing it will follow.
AdNews revealed earlier this month the stigma of being labelled a troublemaker is still holding back men and women from reporting what they've experienced and what they've seen.
Almost half the people in a survey by Clemenger Sydney reported it as the reason, followed by a third who said it was fear of damaging their own career and not being taken seriously.
This is what Gallop wants to put a stop to.
AdNews has also heard multiple stories of serious sexual harassment in this industry, and Australian and New Zealand agency leaders and execs that have been paid off due to poor conduct, only to go on to senior roles elsewhere because the reasons for their exit were hidden. Many are still operating in Australia today. Some of the stories being shared fit into what is described in the US as “bro-culture”, which is described in detail in this article from a year ago that outlines an in-depth qualitative research project into the culture within agencies and treatment of men and women undertaken in partnership with the 3% Conference. It's a good read.
Most people that have spoken to AdNews have done so on the condition of anonymity but a pattern of names of the worst offenders has emerged. Anyone with an experience to share - on or off the record - can contact AdNews editor at rosiebaker@Yaffa.com.au
Another important point for Gallop is men who have stood by in the past, knowing what was happening, and have done nothing. She wants them to come forward now.
Gallop says she has hundreds of responses in her inbox from men and women in advertising that have a story to share. Similarly AdNews has heard from a number of men and women in Australia, including women who left the industry because of a culture of behaviour they couldn't tolerate, and men that are now feeling guilty. She wants to “reframe sexual harassment whistleblowers as heroes”, citing Susan Fowler the Uber engineer who was behind changes at the tech startup earlier this year that led to CEO Travis Kalanick being ousted.
Gallop also wants men and women who have signed NDAs to break them, citing Zelda Perkins, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's former assistant, as an example. She broke her NDA to show how they are creating a culture of secrecy. She also offers reminder that the friends and partners of people who have signed NDAs are not bound by them and can come forward.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org, in complete confidence and anonymity or Contact Cindy Gallop on email@example.com, as many have already done. Contact another person in the industry you trust and get their advice. Seek legal advice as I know some already are.
Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org