this week marked 100 years since women got the right to vote. And in the same week, new research showed that, in the creative industry, less than 20 per cent of award winners were women in 2017. gender equality has come a long way since 1918, but not far enough.
And the first place to start is within our own organisations. Because equality, inclusion and diversity are all issues that frankly, the whole of Australia could improve on.
In 2016, there were 187,100 more women than men living in Australia – yet the percentage of women in Parliament was, and remains, just 32 per cent – up by only one per cent after the 2016 election. And this underrepresentation of women is something that is echoed not only throughout the marketing, media and advertising industries, but throughout the whole world.
Recent figures released through The Drum Big Won Rankings found that less than one fifth of the creative industry’s top award winners were female. Out of the 20 most awarded chief creative awards, only three went to women. In the top 20 executive creative director list it was the same story. And how many women were listed within the top 20 creative directors? Just one.
This research isn’t only talking about the Aussie industry, either. The Drum research examined top performing creative businesses and those working in advertising all around the world.
The majority believes that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities – but this research only cements the fact that more action is needed.
Believing that women and men should have equal rights is in fact the definition of feminism – but only a staggering nine per cent of women self-identify as feminists, according to Kate Waters, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Now.
“There is clearly a major image problem with the “F-word”. It’s a word that is loaded with a legacy of militancy, politics and – distressingly – over a quarter of people associate the term with “bitchiness”,” she wrote on Campaignlive.co.uk.
“But does it matter that people are supportive of the equality movement but reject the idea of personally identifying with it? I’d argue yes.
“Movements of any kind only make progress when people join them – not just in spirit, but in action.”
Waters goes on to argue that feminism needs to become a mainstream brand to help gender equality, and that those working in our industry can, and should, do something about it.
“We are privileged to work in an industry that can shape culture as much as reflect it, and this gives us a unique opportunity,” she wrote.
Enter B&T’s Change the Ratio. It’s a bold, home-grown initiative designed to drive diversity, inclusion and the promotion of women in Australia’s advertising, marketing and media landscape, and it’s what we’re doing about equality in the industry.
This completely Aussie event will strive to provide attendees with practical tools and case studies, not to mention game-changing ideas take back to their own organisation to drive diversity and inclusion.
Changing the Ratio’s speakers and industry panel discussions are our way of making sure more women end up in the top 20 creative directors list. More than one.
Creative Equals founder Ali Hanan told The Drum that for this to happen, equality has to start from the very beginning of a woman’s career – just like it would for a man.
“Looking at the macro data from a number of different companies, we see this; women’s careers simply aren’t progressed in the same way as their male colleagues.
“They are less likely to be given key assignments. With male bosses who are comfortable giving career-building comments to those who look and sound like they do, women don’t get the same quality of feedback on their work.
“They feel less valued in their roles. They are unclear what they need to do to get promoted. They are half as likely to have training or gain access to the training budgets. And this plays out in who makes it to senior positions and who wins the awards,” she said.
If women are half as likely to have proper training, that makes it much, much less likely for their career to soar, or for them to be promoted.
That’s why B&T has created B&T Bootcamp, an event where all sorts of up-and-comers can get the skills and training they need through mentoring and leadership masterclasses – and is particularly useful for women who aren’t getting the training and support their careers desperately need.