Cindy Gallop's 6 takeaways from this year's 3% Conference

The event is the "future of our industry, today."

MakeLoveNotPorn Founder Cindy Gallop attended and spoke at The 3% Conference in Chicago last week. Find out what stood out to the fierce diversity and inclusion advocate the most at the annual event.

1)    The 3% Conference is the most representational event in our industry

And quite frankly, any other industry. What Kat Gordon and her team have achieved is remarkable. This year the conference showcased and celebrated the creativity of not just women generally, but specifically, black women and men, Latinx, Asians, LGBTQ, the non-binary, the visibly and invisibly disabled, veterans, the convicted, people with mental health challenges, people of size, and teenage boys. Listening to talks from the likes of Chris Bergeron praising Cossette on how they embraced her transition; Vincent Braggs on starting his agency Concreates staffed by the formerly incarcerated ("I see someone who’s robbed a bank 27 times and I think, there’s a strategist"); Joanna Pena-Bickley of Amazon on how her Mexican Jewish roots drove her to ask ‘What if?’, to invent, to help other women dream big and make those dreams reality; Makeda Loney of FCB Chicago challenging sizeism; I was forcefully reminded how much we don’t see this anywhere else. Least of all with the message resounding from the various stages loud and clear: "See how brilliant all these people are, and HIRE THEM."

2)    The 3% Conference is the future of our industry, today

The atmosphere at the 3% Conference is unlike any other event in our industry. I said in my closing keynote at the 3% Conference 2014, "You do not fully realize how much our industry does not welcome, celebrate, champion, value, compensate and reward female talent, skills and creativity – until you’re somewhere that does." When I recommend the conference (which I do to every single person in advertising, especially men), I say, separate to the fantastic speakers and content, you will be blown away by the inspirational ambience and the people all around you, because this is what our industry will be like, every single day.

3)    Every session at The 3% Conference is practical and actionable

Every session was action template after action template on how to run your business better, manage your people better, be more creative, delight clients more, and make a ton more money. Derek Robson’s searingly honest presentation where he exposed how badly Goodby Silverstein & Partners was doing before they made their leadership gender-equal, exactly how they did that, and the spectacularly quantified better business results following, is your leadership strategy for 2020 laid out for you, white male leaders with white male-dominated agency leadership. Vita Harris’s talk on how you ensure diverse and inclusive advertising is every Chief Creative Officer/ECD/creative’s must-watch that makes it really, really easy to take action.  And the mother/daughter exchange between Desiree Adaway and Jordan Dinwiddie was just the most fantastic action template for life.

4)    The fact that brands, agencies and holding companies that state they are ‘committed to diversity’ are not all over The 3% Conference recruiting the hell out of the audience and the speakers is simply astounding

The agencies and clients that get it were there, hiring (including tech companies). The agencies and clients that don’t, weren’t. There is no ‘talent drain’ when you hire the shit out of everyone at the 3% Conference and everyone they recommend from their networks. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, as the old saying goes.

5)    The fact that brands, agencies and holding companies that state they are ‘committed to diversity’ are not sponsoring the hell out of the 3% Conference to fund it, is simply appalling

Nancy Hill and I were delighted to chat over breakfast with the young creatives that Gina Grillo and Krisi Earley of the Ad Club of New York brought to the conference. One of them asked us, "What’s the biggest obstacle to the 3PercentMovement achieving its aims?" My answer was, "Money." Our industry continues to fail to put its money where its mouth is. The more brands, agencies and holding companies fund the 3PercentMovement, the quicker change happens.

6)    The men at The 3% Conference found the experience transformative

I was delighted to speak to a number of the men at the conference who made male attendance this year 23 percent - short of the target of 29 percent (the current percentage of creative directors who are female – from 3 percent to 29 percent in 8 years), but still excellent at nearly a quarter of the audience. Without exception, they told me they found the conference ‘enlightening’ and ‘transformative’. One man told me it made him feel ‘uncomfortable – but in a good way’. Wade Davis, in his terrific opening keynote, said, "Why aren’t more men at this conference? One word. Fear." Well, there was nothing to be afraid of, as the men who attended found out, and everything to gain. Make sure you watch my closing keynote, ‘The Future For White Men In Advertising’, when it’s posted online, to find out how white men have everything to gain when they work in the future of our industry – the one that the 3PercentMovement is making happen now, and the one that is as inclusive of and rewarding for white men as everyone else.

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