Here we are, another year in marketing. Another International Women’s Day is almost upon us and I’m being asked what the plan is for this year. There is one, but it’s not a simple one to explain. Just as our journey hasn’t been linear either.
Fck The Cupcakes has evolved significantly since its genesis in March 2021. Realistically, we didn’t really know where this would lead us. We struck a chord with women in our industry and beyond when we said two years ago that International Women’s Day was meaningless if women continued just to talk to other women. We were angry but instead of shouting, we turned our rage into creativity against our new common enemy. The ultimate symbol of performative HR theatrics: the cupcake.
We started creating comms and campaigns with the hope that we could drive change, starting with our very own industry. Whilst we received oh so much love from oh so many awesome people (mostly women but also some genuine male legends), we’ve also had to realise what we’re up against. Internalised misogyny is a thing, men believing that women mostly make up sexual assault stories is also a thing, and the biggest thing of all is of course: young men getting groomed into believing that sex trafficking women is okay. You know who I’m talking about.
Along the way we’ve had our “it’s all too hard” moments, where it’s felt easier to do nothing. But we reminded ourselves that doing nothing is the only option we haven’t got. I keep repeating to myself that it’s our responsibility to redefine aspirational culture through our work as comms specialists. In particular, those of us who are at the top of companies and have the ability to steer things. And I truly believe this. So we continue.
So here we are, not long away from IWD 2024. But what do we do, to make it meaningful, I hear you ask. Well, for starters – I applaud you, for considering doing more than the unimaginative and inconsiderate annual corporate cupcake order, and wanting to add value to the women in your workforce.
But let me give you a couple of home truths. Don’t host an IWD event, if:
- Your business is not actively promoting gender equality 365 days a year. It will just look like performative HR trickery.
- You don’t have any meaningful investment in women’s career developments, or policies/culture that allow women to flourish. Window dressing on IWD won’t fix that.
- You think IWD is about women celebrating women with some inspirational morning tea. Don’t do it. We don’t need another female cheer squad. We need the men to pave the way for us.
- You think that it’s on women to organise the D&I initiatives. Equality starts with men being part of the equation, otherwise it’s just more unpaid labour for women.
In any case, any form of IWD festivity where the highlight is some branded cupcakes should probably be cancelled.
Instead maybe be truthful and start acknowledging where you’re at as a business and start making a genuine effort to do better, 365 days of the year.
At FTC we’ll be focussing on another great starting point: Engaging men in conversations around equality.
The male movable middle is a group of men that we can reach, they understand that equality is good for everyone, they understand that the patriarchy hurts them just as much as it hurts women, they just don’t know what their role is or should be in the push for equality. The past two years have been a crash course in learning how to engage these men and what messaging lands. We have learned and listened. We have a lot of empathy for men, their feelings and their inclusion needs. And we will put these learnings to good use.
In our research work, the content we create, the keynotes, partnerships and events will all be focused on reaching and engaging this crucial audience.
So stay tuned, and in the meantime, get in contact, get involved and help make our industry a better place.
Just follow the smell of burning cupcakes….
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