More action and far less talk

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 16 November 2015
AdNews online editor, Pippa Chambers.

This article first appeared in AdNews in-print on Friday. Click here to subscribe to the AdNews magazine or read the iPad edition here.

What a week of gender-related stories, tweets, posts, emails and comments – all off the back of a simple press release from Leo Burnett about some appointments.

The notice fired out to the mediasphere was about its new hires – five white males - with a sofa shot of them double denimed up to the nines, with two other male bosses – the seven wonders of Leos. The agency is in no way the only offender here.

While the CEO of its Melbourne office, Melinda Geertz, is female and no doubt Leos does have female creatives, they were nowhere to be seen. But it's a bigger picture than just the one photo. What ensued, was nothing short of an online gender riot, which saw countless comments zip around social media from university lecturers, adland creatives, journalists and English advertising executive, equality campaigner and social media zealot, Cindy Gallop, with her nearly 40,000 followers.

The short story in an AdNews bulletin was ironically preceeded on the same day as a story about former DDB executives launching a consultancy to tackle the gender gap. So Gallop, a big advocate of gender equality in the workforce, took to the social streams, as did many, about the sad state of affairs that adland is the homeland of the white male, which roams the fertile, creative pastures in packs, leaving females out of ear shot, back at the ranch.

“Several what the f*ck Leos?” tweets later, where are we really with the gender divide issue? Are we any further than we were back in February with our ‘Do women over 30 disappear from adland’ story? Or our ‘Making adland work for women’ yarn in March? Is there a change to come or is it simply just more talk?

While I certainly am not taking any credit away from the achievements gender equality advocates are doing in this space, it still feels there's too much talk and not enough action. And why aren't more men and bigger agencies speaking out instead of leaving it to the SheSays crowd? And to those with daughters, do they want them to fall in line with the same rigid system? While this age-old argument has simply become an adland norm, with many almost desensitised to the fact this is a man's land, what Leos has unintentionally done, is ignite the issue yet again.

But let's not leave it to a verbal battle – let's make the actual changes.

An advocacy group in the US has created a unique answer to closing the gender gap in adland's leadership ranks by introducing a certification plan. When an agency applies for certification, an independent auditing committee collects information on salaries, the breakdown of men and women in leadership positions, and more. It then suggests benchmarks, along with ways to reach a more balanced agency. If the agency can successfully hit those goals it will be certified.

Why can't we do this here?

See below for related opinions and articles:

Does Leo Burnett deserve the backlash over its all white male creative team?

The challenges behind the seven white men

Leo Burnett takes to Twitter to tackle diversity storm

Unfkable: Female creatives unite

News Bulletin: Qantas joins with goCatch, Leo Burnett hires creative duo


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