Don’t get me wrong, gender equality clearly has momentum and there's a lot of talk in our industry about 'empowering women' - but it goes much deeper than a trend, a femvertising campaign or a hashtag. Quite simply put, there’s more to gender equality than calling yourself a feminist.
Look at what’s happening all over the world. There’s been a colossal shift where for the first time, women are actually being listened to. Little by little things are starting to change, and our industry has to be next. We all like to believe that working in creativity makes us progressive, innovative and avant-garde. But in reality we are actively participating in a gender-bias that is in desperate need of an update.
We may have left the Mad-Men era but we haven’t left the notion that women don’t deserve a seat at the table behind. With clear under representation of women at the top, our industry is trapped in an exhaustive cycle where those who wish to advance have very few women above to look up to, and those at the top are facing an unfair playing field as they try to make change.
True to form, our industry has beautifully crafted the ‘gender equality manifesto’. The strategy lines up, the words resonate and inspire, but it’s through initiatives such as the Cannes Lions ‘See It Be It’ program that help give women a real reason to believe.
As a participant, proud to selected in the group of 20 remarkable women from all over the world in this years program, I can speak from experience when I say that ‘See It Be It’ signifies so much more than the women selected to represent it.
Now in its fifth year, ‘See It Be It’ aims to create a platform for women who face diversity challenges in the industry and enable them to become the drivers for change by providing access to high-profile leaders, executive coaching and mentoring opportunities with senior figures from across the industry.
“This initiative was launched to address the issue of gender disparity in the senior levels of the creative industry. While there has been some progress, the dial is moving far too slowly and by supporting exceptional female talent we believe we’ll help shift the balance,” said Louise Benson, Cannes Lions’ Executive Lead on See It Be It.
By identifying women from all corners of the globe as the next creative leaders and providing a tangible way for them to make change, initiatives such as this help turn the talk around gender equality into something actionable.
The emergence and support of more female leaders is crucial. We all know from experience that creating meaningful change is possible, but it needs to be made from the inside, on all fronts, at all levels. So we all need to have the tough conversation, do the small thing that-wont-make-any-difference-but-just-might, and keep actively pushing for gender equality so the next generation of kick ass women can focus on something else.
McCann Paris art director Lauren Haberfield is part of the See It Be It initiative.
Further information about the See It Be It programme can be found here.