Just after posting on this topic, the very next week more focus was brought to the issue of gender diversity in the advertising industry. Data clearly shows that women don’t have equal representation in the industry, so why would a person in power dismiss the need to make progress? That’s exactly what Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts did, causing an outcry and leading to his being forced out of his job. Read more at Advertising Age >
Roberts’ position was that women have different ambitions and are seeking life happiness beyond status in their career. Read more at Business Insider >
Some women agreed and disagreed with his point-of-view. Read more at The Telegraph >
Yet, this point-of-view minimizes the issues, which go beyond equal opportunity for women in the workplace. There is a societal benefit to having women in power, especially in the advertising industry which has tremendous power to influence societal opinions and norms around gender. It minimizes the work that needs to be done to change both societal and company practices that aren’t aligned to how many families need to operate today, often with both parents working. Finally, it also abdicates responsibility for the point Roberts himself was making—that job roles, responsibilities, and success may need to be redefined to better align with female leaders’ career and life ambitions. Why is it that there is so much talk about falling all over Millennials and catering to there needs, but women’s motivations and demands are not viewed as worthy of serious consideration, focus, and change management?
I re-watched the 1980 movie 9 to 5 last year. For those not familiar with it, 9 to 5 was produced by and featured Jane Fonda, along with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The plot was about how these women took charge and made their egotistical, sexist boss pay for his actions. The women kidnapped the boss and held him hostage, during which time they put in place workplace practices such as equal pay, job shares, and onsite daycare, leading to increased productivity. Over 35 years later, it’s hard to believe that we haven’t made much progress around these types of workplace practices that could better support women and their ambitions. While I recognize that this is just a movie, note that it took women in power to make progress on these issues.
To make change, we have to keep the focus on this topic, not dismiss it or minimize its role, to make people recognize that there are multiple societal benefits to giving women equal representation.
Categories: Marketing to Women