Tamara Ingram: How to get more women in creative departments

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JWT's chief executive, will debate how we can recruit, retain and develop female talent with a panel of creative women at the IPA and 4A's 'World Wise Women' session in Cannes. To set the scene, she shares her top tips on how to get more women in creative departments

1. Executive commitment, planned actions and measurement are more important than good intentions. Change doesn’t happen without these three things. Real change requires determination, consistency over time… and a lot of leadership impatience with the status quo. That’s true inside our individual agencies and across our industry. We need to work together to push this agenda.

Talking about it and showing intent generates momentum, creates conversation, and continually forces this topic to the top of the agenda.

2. Insist on a diverse candidate roster for every opening. That’s for external hires, internal promotions and even internships. If you tell recruiters, hiring managers and key decision makers that there must be a female candidate for every opportunity, believe me, it will happen.

Then make sure a woman is part of the interview panel. And finally, hire on potential, not credentials. The latter can be used to screen someone out. The former is inclusive and can energise your entire team. 

3. Create true flexibility in the ways someone can do their job. Of course that’s not just for women, but they often have greater constraints on their time. And personal stress rarely breeds great ideas. We need to offer a range of programs that accommodate different demands at different stages of our lives. 

4. Provide mentors, sponsors and female role models. They are going to know where the unconscious bias lurks in your culture. They "get it" and can advocate for the women they are supporting. And we need to raise the visibility of female leaders in the industry (not just the creative department). Show it can be achieved. Make sure female creative leaders are seen on jury panels and in the trade press.

5. Visibly change the conversation. We’ve released groundbreaking work on "Female Tribes." It’s estimated that women control up to two-thirds of the $18 trillion global consumer spend. If we want to truly engage this audience, we need to understand women’s value as consumers and wealth creators, leaders and influencers: the idea of Female Capital.

How can we develop the brand ideas that come out of these insights without creative talent that represents the communities we live in? And by the way, this is not a tip only to be wheeled out for "special" briefs/special occasions.

We all need to challenge creative briefs where we see "housewife with kids" on the audience section. Because if over 70% of mothers work in the UK and the US, the "housewife" doesn’t exist, and we’re creating work for a mythical audience. Creative departments — male and female — need to be alive to this idea.

Additional speakers at the ‘World Wise Women’ lunchtime Cannes event will include: Kate Stanners, global chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi; Lauren Connolly, executive vice-president and executive creative director, BBDO New York; Nancy Hill, president and chief executive at the 4As; and Becky McOwen-Banks, creative director at FCB Inferno and co-founder of Creative Equals.

The event will be chaired by IPA President Tom Knox.


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