For more creative women in creative roles, look no further than your own agency
Happy International Women’s Day! The day when we stop and reflect on the gaps that still exist in our industries and trouble shoot how to fix them.
Creative directors in PR in the UK are still overwhelmingly men. But rather than bang the drum for men stepping down and women stepping up to replace them, my radical proposal is this: let’s make more creative director positions and support women into them.
Not 'down' with men, but 'up' with creativity—and 'up' with women.
In PR, the vast majority of agencies don’t yet have dedicated creatives, but this is changing rapidly. There’s a macro trend towards specialisms, with big agencies across the board hiring specialists and starting to realise the power of having experts in the room. It makes the work better, it inspires people, it unlocks bigger budgets. But while hardcore press office shops are dipping a toe in, the big creative agencies are doubling down and hiring (whisper it) more than one creative director.
More than one of this traditionally lone wolf position used to be exotic to me, but working at Halpern which is part of the ad agency The&Partnership, I work with anywhere between four to ten creative directors on a brief. It’s fast-paced, non-hierarchical, and collaborative – a free-for-all that gets to the best work quickly. What if PR agencies adopted the model of more is more and invested in more specialist creatives without worrying about (and believe me, this is a consideration) putting their creative’s nose out of joint by hiring… another one?
It’s killing three birds with one stone – you neutralise the egocentric, territorial lone creatives, you embed creativity into the agency’s output, and you make more roles for women to step into.
What about the P&L sheet and the non-billable hours, I hear you cry?
Let me just remind you of the four to ten creative directors I regularly work with. Bigger creative firepower allows us to charge more for our thinking, and suddenly we aren’t the quick and dirty cheap marketing option but taken seriously for our counsel, and commanding a bigger slice of the pie.
Next issue, where are we finding this elusive creative talent to step into a rash of newly created roles? They exist already— in your agencies.
Smart, lateral thinkers who suspect they might be quite good at this stuff, but who don’t want to put their head above the parapet to compete with the ivory-towered creative director at the top.
Encourage them, put them in training, get them to sign up to our Creative Women’s group, sign them up for creative mentoring, push them out of the office door to go to networking drinks, and ask for their opinion on a brief.
Our industry is dominated by women, while creative director roles are dominated by men.
It’s intimidating to shoot for a role so clearly monopolised by people with beards. So, let’s make it more accessible at all levels by simply making more of them.
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