Theresa Miller was front-row and centre at last week’s 3% Conference. Here’s her report on the choicest quotes and amazing talks from the day…
“I like blowing shit up,” is the war cry of Cindy Gallop, who gave the electrifying keynote at the end of The inaugural 3% Conference Australasia in Sydney.
Striding onto the stage in a zippered, black leather cat suit and swinging her trademark blonde bob, she delivered her empowering manifesto in a British accent that could cut glass, including a few ceilings.
It was the grand finale in a day that began with the desultory facts that despite women making 80 per cent of all household purchasing decisions, only a fraction of them hold positions of power in the advertising industry.
Thanks to the work of The 3% Movement, which began revolutionising the American ad world six years ago, that ratio has crept up to around 15 per cent.
There’s still plenty of room for improvement, especially in Australian workplaces, which are amongst the world’s most gender segregated, according to Jade Collins, co-founder of Femeconomy.
The inaugural Australian 3% conference showcased an impressive line-up of dynamic women striking out on their own, and thriving, not only in advertising, but also in recruitment, sport and business.
Among them is Georgie McEnroe, stand up comic and radio presenter turned business owner. Shebah is Australia’s first all female ride share service for women and children. Launched on International Women’s Day in March 2017, Shebah almost broke the app store in its first 24 hours with a record number of downloads.
Georgie said the idea came to her after one of the worst days of her life.
“I was driving along Punt Road in Melbourne thinking about what a punt my husband was for leaving me with four little kids and wondering how I could make a living.” This is when the idea came to her. Then the name came to her in a dream. “Queen Shebah challenged the traditional wisdom of King Solomon.”
Another kick-in-the-guts moment spurred Jane Evans to start her own content marketing company. Despite a stellar advertising career, including creating Australia’s iconic craft beer, James Squire and helping Sydney win the Olympics, when Jane returned to the UK she couldn’t get a job.
“I applied for around a hundred jobs and couldn’t get a look in. Being over 50, I realised I was invisible. So I started The Invizibles.”
These days, corporate clients are pushing back by demanding advertising agencies’ put women on their creative teams.
According to Anna Green from the Boston Consulting Group, companies with more female leaders are 15 per cent more profitable and report greater staff satisfaction and less fraud. In Nordic countries, which celebrate higher ratios of female leadership, there’s less violence against women.
During the conference coffee and lunch breaks the talk among delegates was mostly upbeat. Along with the war stories of surviving workplace discrimination, women and men exchanged tactics on how to level the playing field.
“It’s exciting to hear there is an appetite for change in the industry,” said Jo Gobbo from iknowho Recruitment Agency.
Dene Gambotto, also from iknowho, said every ad agency should look at ‘blind c.v.s’ when assessing candidates, to rule out gender bias.
“Men need to also ask for more flexibility at work to fit in with their families,” one male advertising executive told B&T.
Kath (no surname given), an events manager, said she was inspired to set up speed mentoring at her company to give younger women the career support they needed.
Jordyana McDowell from FCB New Zealand said the conference had ignited her growing passion to do something creative to capture people’s stories.
“I want to launch a project to record and write people’s memoirs,” Jordayna said.
Her colleague Jane loved the story about the women in President Obama’s communications team ‘amplifying’ each other. “They supported each other’s ideas out loud in meetings so that they couldn’t be ignored or let men take the credit for them.”
A member of the Buzzfeed sales team said he was heartened to hear some HR departments were pro-actively pushing women into leadership roles they were equipped for, even if they didn’t feel quite ready. The results have been positive.
“Women need to ask for what they want, and be confident,” said mentor and coach Kylee Fitzpatrick.
Many delegates were impressed with the start up success stories. “It’s great to hear that women who were told they couldn’t be executive creative directors have left to start their own agencies,” said Ashling Withers from Landor Branding.
That’s exactly what happened to award-winning advertising creative, Kimmie Neidhardt who returned to work after having her first child only to realise she would never get the job of ECD.
“So I quit and started BURD with Simone Brandse and we called ourselves creative directors. We don’t even have an office. We do great work and stop in time to pick up the kids from day care,” Neidhardt said.
Aoife Brennan from Landor Branding is cautious about the changes in big business. “Many companies talk about diversity and inclusion and offer work flexibility. But what do their businesses actually look like when you walk in the door? If the blokes still have the big offices with views and the women are bunched into a corner, then it’s just symbolism. We need real policies to prove everyone gets the benefits.”
Diana Leach, a D.O.P with her own company, Street Life Films agrees.
“Looking back at my time in a Melbourne ad agency, I realise I was side-lined to commercials about fashion, babies and food,” she said. “That’s why I set up my own agency and now I collaborate with smart, creative women.”
And the last word must go to the foremother of disruption, Cindy Gallop who says: “Homogeneity is the enemy of creativity. Diversity drives creativity, which drives profitability.”
Levi Slavin, former CCO of Colenso BBDO, has been appointed Howatson+Company’s new chief creative officer following the sudden departure of Ant White in August. Slavin will join the Sydney-based agency in January. Chris Howatson (pictured below) commented: “Levi is a wonderful human being first, brilliant creative second. He is renowned for his empathy, his commitment […]
Spikes Asia has announced the appointment of Jenny Lau as events director. Based in Singapore, Lau will take overall responsibility for Spikes Asia. Lau (pictured) has worked within the Asia-Pacific advertising industry for more than 20 years and brings a deep understanding of the trends and issues affecting the regional advertising and marketing industry. Lau […]
Global ecommerce and marketplace specialist Pattern has ranked a group of 50 brands selling on Amazon.com.au based on a set of best practice criteria it has developed. Pet brand Zenify topped the ranking in Pattern’s Amazon Australia Benchmarking Report, scoring 82 per cent of the possible marks against a set of criteria designed to measure […]
Fifth Dimension Consulting has announced the expansion of its executive leadership team in response to the organisation’s significant growth over the last 18 months. Lyndall Spooner has moved from the position of managing director to the role of chief executive officer (CEO). As CEO, she will lead Fifth Dimensions’ innovation arm, as well as the […]
GoDaddy Inc. has today announced the Australian launch of GoDaddy Studio, a new content creation tool designed for small and medium businesses to create beautiful visual content for their business for all platforms. Compatible on both iOS and Android mobile apps and desktop, GoDaddy Studio includes thousands of customisable templates and easy-to-use tools, providing small […]
Seismic has announced an expanded New Zealand (NZ) presence to support the transformation of sales and marketing teams, and enable the nation’s employers to focus on upskilling their workforces to overcome a digital skills shortage. The company has also signed NZ-based specialist consultancies, Fresh Perspective Sales (FPS) and Jumping Fox Interactive, as its first two […]
Alex Huntley, Booktopia’s head of customer experience, recently appeared at software company Freshworks’ recent digital CX summit RE:SOLVE. During the summit, Huntley shared his thoughts on future-proofing customer service architecture.Huntley sat down with B&T to discuss Booktopia’s partnership with Freshworks and how it has helped their platform develop. B&T: Why did Booktopia first decide to partner […]
The Edison Agency has made four new appointments in its Sydney office to service the continued growth across key account The Arnott’s Group and the recent appointment to Nestlé Oceania’s strategic packaging design roster. Over the past 12 months, the culmination of strategic and creative work across the Uncle Toby’s brand and continued growth of […]