Are we there yet? A&G's Jennifer Putnam calls out DDB's 'unfathomable move'

Every week, we ask industry insiders across all job levels and titles to share personal stories about equality, diversity and inclusion in adland. We know we're not there yet, but we want to document the highs and lows as the industry slowly transforms for the better.

Jennifer Putnam
Chief creative officer
Allen & Gerritsen

Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

The immediate thing that comes to mind is the unfathomable move on behalf of Omnicom and Wendy Clark to bring in the former CCO of Droga5 to help on a global pitch.

As a member of the Time’s Up Advertising leadership team, Clark was representing literally thousands of women who have spoken out on behalf of themselves and others about the inequality and misconduct issues that still persist in this industry. To say that move was gutting to women in this industry would be an understatement. Putting business before progress resulted in losing the respect of a very vocal and passionate contingent that is growing every day.


How about something that proves we’re making progress?

That very contingent I mentioned above. Through social groups, networking and movements like the 3%, #FreetheBid and #SeeHer, women in our industry are shaping change and having great impact.

We’re seeing more women in creative leadership roles (like myself) making it a priority to advocate for and mentor other women. We’re seeing these same women expand their attention to diversity initiatives across the board and set the example within their own agency structure. We’re confronting issues like pay inequality, unconscious biases and showing up as positive examples for the next generation. But make no mistake, there’s a lot of work to still do.


What else needs to be done to get there?

Our clients have to demand diversity in their agency partners and leadership to reflect the broad tapestry of modern day consumers they seek. Many clients come from agency side where the norm was a white-male-dominated creative discipline, so it’s easy to default to that as an expectation.

I hope as agencies continue to course correct their talent streams, we’ll start to see more enlightened, progressive clients that recognize the value and urgency of a more diverse team structure and mindset to achieve business goals. This includes representing women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, people with disabilities and different socioeconomic backgrounds to name a few.

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