Change, not talk, is what diversity needs

‘Manterruption’: includes an app that tracks when women are interrupted by men
‘Manterruption’: includes an app that tracks when women are interrupted by men

Brands, ad agencies and media owners need to start creating meaningful change in gender diversity instead of just talking about it, industry leaders have said.

This year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March brought with it a flurry of activities and events from brands, agencies and media owners, including Facebook, Omnicom and Puma. 

The IWD "#BeBoldForChange" theme has also inspired campaigns including BETC São Paulo’s "Manterruption", which includes an app that tracks the number of times women are routinely interrupted by men.

However, gender diversity activist Cindy Gallop said "we are seeing virtually zero change" in gender inequality in advertising. She argued that, even though gender inequality is in the limelight this week, it is still not enough.

Gallop added: "Stop talking about it – start doing it. I want every agency and client company to implement highly strategic, highly creative work to make itself gender-equal and diverse. 

"After all, we’re meant to be highly strategic and highly creative about driving better client business results, so why not the same effort and impact for gender equality?"

Currently, only 12% of creative directors are women. Ali Hanan, founder and chief executive of Creative Equals, said the pressure is on adland to shape up. 

She said: "Intermediaries like AAR and Oystercatchers now recognise Creative Equals’ kitemark as a gender-equality benchmark, which means those who are certified will stand out over competitors. 

"With the kitemark comes a plan for an agency to go 50/50 [gender split across creative departments] over a set time. This is about long-term structural change. And that’s what really moves the story on."

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