Equality means men stepping up and women letting them

Obvious. But it needs repeating. So, men: show up. And women: let the right men be your allies.

The lead up to New York Advertising Week came with the normal deluge of requests to moderate panels.

Great. Being part of -- and driving -- important conversations is what Campaign US strives to do every day. 

A number of these requests, however, called for a female moderator to lead all-female panels. When I (a very, very white male) threw my hat in the ring, I was routinely shut down.

"After much back and forth, [brand] did decide to move forward with an all-female panel," PR wrote back after days of discussing the pros and cons of a man hosting a talk about women in advertising. 

Let me tell you why it’s absolutely crucial men be part of these dialogues: because the conversation does not move on without them. In fact, it will remain as just that -- a conversation. True equality can only be tangible when everyone is at the table. 

Men created the glass ceiling for women. Now, the right men can help shatter that same ceiling. But women have to let them listen, learn, share. And men in power have a responsibility to turn this into change. 

The right men are already doing it. You’ll find them at The 3% Conference this November -- all 17 percent of the 1,400 attendees. 

A few 3% mythbusters: It’s a business conference, not a women's conference; gender equality benefits everyone and involves everyone and; men are visibly transformed by the experience of attending 3%.

This year, the organizers have set a goal of having 29 percent of it audience be men. The number is such because that's the representation of women creative directors, according to the company’s most recent research.

Kat Gordon, founder of The 3% Movement, told Campaign US: "3% is not a women's conference. It's a business conference about the incredible upside of having diverse groups working on creative solutions together. Which is why we need a truly diverse group of attendees and speakers. 

"The men who come to 3% are among the most galvanized -- they see their role as 21st Century Leaders and take their rightful place in the community. 3% is for everyone and it benefits everyone.

So, as The 3% Movement stresses, if you're a man who has benched yourself from attending 3% in the past -- thinking you were showing allyship by freeing up a spot for a woman to attend -- consider this: there is no single action of advocacy more powerful than immersing yourself in a deeper understanding of gender equality and 21st Century leadership.

Because men still hold a disproportionate amount of power in the workplace, it's imperative they understand the many ways that diversity equals creativity equals profitability.

Show up. Earnestly. Learn. Then help implement change.

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