In ‘Blow It Up’, a webinar hosted by Verizon Media In the first of its Media Academy Masterclass series, Make Love Not Porn CEO Cindy Gallop spoke on deconstructing the advertising industry.
Gallop began by explaining how the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter both ensured that the “world will never be the same again.”
She said that there were two dynamics at play currently: the first was the breakdown of the old world order, and the second was how individuals seized that opportunity to “create the world we want to live and work in going forwards.”
At the crux of this was the idea of destruction. Rather than talking about the future as something we build, Gallop posited that “the future that we all want to live and work in is as much about subtracting things from our industry” as it is about adding things.
This requires three steps: ending sexual harassment, ending racism, and ending fear.
Sexual harassment, she said, was the single biggest business issue in the advertising and marketing industry.
“Sexual harassment keeps out of power and influence the female leaders who would make diversity and inclusion happen.”
That harassment includes everything from misogynistic jokes to sexual assault and rape.
Sexist jokes “instantly dehumanise [women]” and by making them, men “destroy our career path.”
The answer to this was simple: hire more women.
“Sexual harassment magically disappears,” Gallop explained, “when every single working environment…is gender equal or more female than male.”
In these environments, men no longer have an implicit endorsement of sexist behaviour and “cease to see women in one of only two roles: girlfriend or secretary.”
Ending sexual harassment is not about ending sex, either. Gallop was in favour of bringing good sexual values and behaviour into the office environment by making it an “open expectation” of company culture, included in their corporate values.
Gallop’s second position was ending racism, where she particularly focused on the undervaluing of black women in the industry.
“How you end racism is very simple: hire, pay rise and promote black talent.”
By doing that, “you channel wealth to black households and black families…that is how you begin ending the racism pay gap, and the wealth gap.”
By promoting talent of colour, you create leaders in the industry that encourage junior talent to view themselves as future leaders too. This has immeasurable benefits – one of which is that you “change your creative output for the better.”
One of Gallop’s most powerful points was the idea that the advertising industry talks as though its glory days are over. In fact, she said, they hadn’t begun, because we haven’t seen what we can do when we leverage women’s talent, black talent, and talent of colour.
Her final piece of advice was to end fear. The best moment of her life, she reflected, “was the day I realised that I don’t give a damn about what anybody thinks.”
There was a simple solution for eradicating fear: getting angry.
“There are many things about our old-world industry to get angry about…it’s the things you get really angry about that have the most potential.”
The industry, she reflected, was a closed loop of “white guys talking to other white guys…why on earth would they ever want to rock the boat?”
Creating this better future, therefore, requires looking internally to ask what you can bring to the industry that doesn’t exist yet.
“For a long time, I talked about how you [make] change [within] the system,” Gallop reflected.
“Now I say, change the system.”
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