No more birdies, no more boys clubs
There’s a reason women tend not to see advertising as a lifelong career, says Victoria Curro, Managing Director, RG/A. Enough’s enough, and golf needs to go too.
I’ve been in meetings where male colleagues have expected female colleagues to fill the water jugs, lay out the biscuits and tidy the room before the client walks in. While they offer instructions.
I had a boss who was fond of telling me that I should be in porn films.
That he could imagine after sex my cheeks would flush pink and that my long dark brown hair would look amazing cascading over a pillow next to him in bed.
These were things he would describe to me in meetings with other people, or just casually in the hallway as we were waiting for the lift. I was 23 and of course felt extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed by these remarks. In those days sexist behaviour was overt, but accepted.
Nowadays things are different. Nowadays sexism is more subtle and covert. Whilst overt behaviour like that is far less tolerated, the subservient cues for women are still there.
I have, for example, been in many meetings where male colleagues have expected female colleagues to fill the water jugs, lay out the biscuits and tidy the room before the client walks in.
All whilst they watch on and offer instructions. I have been in exec meetings and watched as my fellow male execs walk out of a meeting, ignoring a table messy with breakfast plates and disposable coffee cups, carrying on conversations whilst myself and other female colleagues clean up around them.
Or I’ve seen PAs rush out to get male creatives lunch or dinner whilst working on a pitch, completely ignoring the women in the room and not offering them the same luxury.
Whilst more ‘subtle’, these types of behaviours leave an imprint on women and men in the workplace. They make women feel their time is less respected, their role less important and their standing less equal.
It also adds to the imposter syndrome that many women experience - ‘do I have a right to sit at this table, or is my role just to clean up after the men that do?’
In recent weeks, we have seen terrible cultures of sexual assault and cover-up exposed in our parliament and school communities. These cultures are underpinned by power imbalances, covert and overt, between men and women.
What the young women behind these movements are telling us though, it that enough is fucking enough! They won’t be quiet any more, they are going to create a whole lot more fucking noise.
And when I look around my agency I see many young women who are just as smart and fierce. They are not going to tolerate the shit that we did, they are not going to take the stairs to avoid an uncomfortable encounter in a lift.
Their elbows are out, their voices are strong and their opinions are clear. Hopefully, in some part they’ve been empowered by my generation and the change we started.
With these young women at the heart of it, our creative industry does look a lot brighter and real change seems more possible than ever. Which is good because there’s still more to do.
As a 47 year old female agency executive, my peer group is small and thinning. So we must ask ourselves why women don’t see a career in our industry as life long.
Are there the right mentors and pathways for women to move up and get promoted – particularly in creative departments? Is more education needed in the work place to create constructive environments for men and women to succeed….and do we still need golf? One of the last male bastions for clients and agencies to bond, isn’t there something more inclusive we could do?
Whilst this is my 25th year in the industry I’m more passionate than ever about creating change and leaving a legacy. There’s a fire in my belly and it’s inspired by the women around me who are making this industry better than it’s ever been, a place where both men and women can thrive.
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‘The great Aussie SMB reset’: The opportunity for marketers in a massive boom for small and medium businesses
Val Morgan is working with Karen Nelson-Field’s team at Amplified Intelligence to study the effect of attention metrics on cinema audiences. As James Bond’s latest film storms the global box office, it’s time for more meaningful metrics – and cinema is in a class of its own on the attention scale, Val Morgan’s Guy Burbidge writes.
The advertising industry deserves a collective round of applause. In the face of a global pandemic, near constant – and ongoing – privacy questions and scrutiny, advertisers innovated and experimented like never before, and the whole market is better for it. Success in the next (hopefully disruption-free) year will require collaboration and partnerships.