I do not believe in gender ratios. I believe in quality.

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The chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide says it will take more than awards to change misapprehensions about women in the industry

Before I share my thoughts on gender equality, you might be curious why I am interested in this topic. As chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide and president of the Art Directors Club Europe, I am surrounded by a male-driven industry. And as a father of three girls, we frequently discuss the important topics surrounding gender equality.

I believe the new category, "Glass Lions," introduced by the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, is a good first step. That said, the issue of gender equality and the distorted picture of women in our society is much more important than another awards category. It would have been a better idea to look at all of the entries in Cannes and award and honor the one single idea with the momentum really to change the conversation for the better. For example, our team at DDB Sydney introduced the initiative for Young Glory to develop the Lioness Award.

I also believe that Cannes, as an awards organization, does not have the power and the mandate really to fight and change misconceptions about the role of women. It has to be done by agencies and marketers around the world. That is our responsibility, as an advertising industry, not only to raise awareness on this topic but actually walk the talk.

I’m proud to part of a company that has been taking the issue of gender seriously since 1949. Back then, DDB Worldwide’s Bill Bernbach installed Phyllis Robinson as the first-ever head of copy, and she partnered with Bob Gage, head of art, for what would leave behind a great legacy of gender balance in leadership positions. 

Today at DDB, we’re working towards gender equality through our sponsorship of The 3% Conference — a champion of female creative talent with founder Kat Gordon at the helm. Just last week, Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) and Working Mother magazine honored Jean Batthany, SVP/group creative director of DDB Chicago as a recipient of its Advertising Working Mothers of the Year awards for 2015. 

But for sure, we can do more.

As an Industry, we have the responsibility not only to change bias against women through the production of our work, but to do everything in our power to respect, develop and empower women to be role models in our Industry.

I do not believe in gender ratios. I believe in quality. We need to respect life circumstances and individual perspectives, and we must give women the platforms and the opportunities to excel in leadership roles. We need to be more mindful and open to different points of view.

And I hope that one day in the near future, there will be a woman who will become my successor as the chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide. You better believe it’s happening.

Amir Kassaei is chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide.

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