It’s been nearly a month since the 3% Conference (minicon) held at the Miami Ad School in Toronto. Women and a few men of all levels of advertising were in attendance. There were Creative Directors, Copywriters, Art Directors, Chief Creative Officers, Account Directors, VP’s of Marketing, Brand Managers, and all various other roles on both agency and client side. Some were there to speak about how they’ve made steps to encourage female leadership, and others were there to learn; learn how to maneuver the advertising landscape and carve out their path towards a future career. What they all had in common was that they wanted to work and live in a world where women had the same creative and leadership opportunities as men. Not just for themselves, but for the women coming up.
For those who don’t know what the 3% Conference is, or what the 3% Movement is, it’s a “passion that became a movement.” Kat Gordon, the founder of 3% started this because she was often the lone woman in a room of creatives. When she really looked into it, she discovered that out of all the creative directors in the US only 3% were women. That’s sad isn’t it? Advertising, an industry that in many ways got rich on the back of women (as women are still, to this day, key household decision makers when it comes to purchases), doesn’t use the power of women and their creativity.
Case in point, recently, we were working on a Creative Director role with one of our clients who pride themselves on equal creative leadership. They do this, not only because it’s 2016 but because they understand diversity in leadership and in particular their creative department helps ensure the quality of the creative they put forward to their clients and the success of their agency. Because of this, they wanted to ensure that for every male identifying creative director we put forward, we also put forward a female identifying creative director. I personally, think this is fantastic, and it increased my impression of this agency.
When we began our search we started with a simple test that you can try. Go onto LinkedIn and put in Creative Director in the advanced search setting in either the keywords field or job title field. Here’s how my search comes up:
Page 1: 0 women out of 10.
Page 2: 2 women out of 10.
Page 3: 2 women out of 10.
Page 4: 2 women out of 10.
Page 5: 2 women out of 10 (but one is a creative services director, which is more about maintaining the balance and workload in the department vs. creative direction).
Page 6: 0 women out of 10.
…and so on.
Sadly, this is less than 3% and I probably have higher results than most because I have worked with some incredible female creative directors in my career.
The 3% Conference is a necessary and important movement that empowers women, as well as our “manbassadors,” to take the initiative to ensure that women are continuing their creative career path. It’s about making a workspace that is conducive to sustaining female talent so that they don’t continuously leave the creative industry or worse, get pushed out. I personally have seen many women laid off while on their maternity leave or the moment they return. This is something that needs to change as study after study showcases that companies with females in leadership roles are more successful. And yet, our industry, our creative industry, continues to follow the days of Mad Men.
While Canada has come very far in terms of women’s rights, we aren’t even close to being finished. It is up to us (and our male colleagues) to create opportunities that keep women in the workforce, to give them the opportunity to attain leadership positions and to work closely with each other to ensure that we continue to make progress.
The 3% Annual Fall Conference (the big show) will be held Nov 3-4, 2016 at The Manhattan Centre in NYC. You can find information about the conference and tickets here.