Are we there yet? What happened when tbd led all-female pitch

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.

Sara Uhelski
Lead copywriter

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

Last year, our agency was working on a pitch and my partner and I were leading the creative side of it, so it made sense that we were the ones to present it to the client. During the final presentation, the two of us and another creative (all of us women) were the ones voicing over the ideas and selling the work in front of the client. At the end of the presentation, the main client approached one of our bosses and said: "That was different!"

She meant it in a positive way, of course, acknowledging that that’s not usually how the script goes. First, it wasn’t an ECD presenting to her. Second, it wasn’t a bunch of men presenting the work.

Although it is great to be recognized for doing something "different," it shows us that there’s still a problem when it comes to gender equality and diversity in our industry. And that problem will still exist until no one sees anything different or odd with women leading meetings and workplaces, speaking up and owning their work.

How about something that proves we’re making progress?

The fact that we’re all addressing the issue and talking about it shows that there’s progress in the making. Movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up brought the issues to the surface and gave voice to women everywhere to talk about the issues they face themselves.

It’s also great to see brands taking a stand, like what Gillette did with "We Believe." The backlash that came after the ad was released shows that there’s still a lot of progress to be made, but it’s important that topics such as harassment, gender equality and sexism become part of our daily conversations and also part of the conversations that brands have with their consumers.

What else needs to be done to get there?

It sounds basic, but women need to support other women. Seriously. Before we ask for men and our employers to support us, let’s all support each other. Not just post lofty essays on our socials channels or take the stage to talk about it, but really support the other women in our agencies, in our industry.

Let’s hire other women, mentor other women, give other women a voice, promote them, lead by example. We all know that our industry lack women in leadership roles but, most of all, it lacks role models. Women that help each other, that inspire each other.

Before we take the stage to talk about gender equality, let’s all look around and see how we’re approaching that same issue inside our own offices. I'm fortunate to work at a place that not only embraces equality, but actually pushes for women to have greater visibility, but I know it's not always like that. So let's all do our part and, little by little, get to a better place all together.

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