[Today, we can celebrate some great progress that has been made for and by women. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter to highlight the need for greater professional and social equity among the genders. Balance in boardrooms, balance in government, balance in media coverage, balance in employees, gender-balance in wealth, balance in pay – an overall gender balanced world.
The recent midterm elections are a great example of achieving better balance – with historic leaps for women candidates. The elections yielded over 100 female candidates who won seats in Congress, including unprecedented diversity (first Native American woman; first Muslim woman; first Hispanic woman from TX), and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY, 29). These recent milestones – and the commemoration of today being International Women’s Day – sparked reflection on the advertising world and the trend we are seeing in our own agency.
According to secondary data, women make up almost 50% of those working in advertising. It appears that in certain departments – account management, media and strategy – there is even a higher percent of women. Given that 85% of all purchasing decisions are made by women, it is important we increase female presence in creative jobs. Only 14% of creative directors are women.
An area of positive growth, although statistics are scarce, is female senior agency leadership. We know that 180 female leaders launched the Times Up Advertising movement and there’s an Instagram account and site “Where are the boss ladies?” with a database of agencies led by females. My own experience is also encouraging. Sitting around a recent leadership meeting, I looked out at 3 men and, for the first time ever, 4 women – one of whom owns the agency. Within our agency, 59% of employees are women of whom 30% are of different ethnic backgrounds. This is progress for sure and will surely inspire and encourage early-career women to continue their path.
While I am fortunate to see female and diverse employee growth in my company, I am hoping the advertising industry can take some positive cues from the recent midterm elections and other women who are paving the way and continue the progress with women and diversity. As the population gets more and more diverse, and our job is to focus on the consumer, being a better reflection of this consumer can only lead to improved, more relevant work. Let’s celebrate women’s achievements and the progress so far.
Let’s aim for balance. Then, it can only get better. #BalanceForBetter