Each year, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity selects 15 rising women in the ad industry to send to the year’s festival as part of a long-term effort to improve the festival’s gender balance.
Globally women make up 46 per cent of the advertising industry but account for only 11 per cent of creative directors.
The “See It Be It” initiative launched in 2014, in partnership with Spotify, aimed to redress this problem.
The program offers promising mid- to senior- level talented women an all-expenses trip to Cannes for the festival where they take part in mentoring sessions, workshops and events where they can grow their networks and advance their careers.
Earlier this week, 100 women from across the Australian creative industry got their own taste of this experience with the first “See It Be It” mini-event held locally in Sydney.
The event comprised a series of interactive roundtable discussions based on topics tailored for creative directors, art directors, copywriters, designers and coders.
Topics included resilience, value and being a visible leader.
The event was attended by two “See It Be It” local alumni who helped facilitate proceedings along with BMF ECD Jen Speir and DDB ECD Tara Ford.
Karen Ferry, senior copywriter at Leo Burnett was selected to attend Cannes earlier this year and shared some of her experiences from the festival to kick off the event in Sydney.
She was later joined by Shannon Crowe, copywriter/creative freelance (formerly Clemenger BBDO Melbourne) who attended Cannes on the programme the previous year.
Following an hour of roundtable discussions, facilitators summarised the key findings on stage in a panel moderated by Bec Brideson, founder and ECD of Venus Communications and gender intelligence agency Bec Brideson.
One concern about being the “token” women and only getting the job as part of a quota was addressed by panelists.
DDB’s Tara Ford commented, “No one will ever give you the job if you’re not capable.”
Quoting an Audi ad, one panellist added, “Drive it like you stole it. If there is a quota, take it and run with it until it’s no longer needed.”
One of the key discussions from the evening was around resilience and preventing women from leaving the advertising industry. Ford advised attendees to look after themselves.
“This business takes it out of you. I say yes 9 times and then say no once you can’t take anything more. Find out what recharges you and refuel yourself.”
BMF’s Jen Speirs said it was also about the industry changing and adapting, “If it doesn’t, the industry will die a withering death.”
All panellists advised attendees to find visibility. 2017 “See It Be It” participant Shannon Crowe who now freelances offered some wise words,
“Make sure your agency knows you exist and your client knows. Clients read B&T and AdNews so find visibility. Whatever your role is, be the CEO of that role.”
As the Australian representative for Cannes Lion, APN Outdoor put on the event.
APN Outdoor head of marketing Charlotte Valente closed proceedings commenting, “Tonight marks the start of a new sisterhood in the Australian creative industry” encouraging attendees to share, overshare and support each other.
B&T is continually trying to improve the state of diversity within the Australian communications industry.
We are currently planning our 2019 Changing the Ratio conference and would welcome speaker suggestions and other initiatives that we can support.